There is no reason to cry over the nature of the Motera track, India Head coach Ravi Shastri asserted on Saturday, saying the curator prepared pitches that produced “fantastic entertainment” in the last two matches here. The pitch for the third Test came in for sharp criticism from a few former England players after the visitors were bowled out for 112 and 81 in the day/night match.
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While England struggled on the spin-friendly track, India claimed victories in the third and fourth Test here to qualify for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand in June. “Why should I hold back? I attribute it to the groundsman,” Shastri said after India dismissed England for 135 to register an innings and 25 run win in the final Test here.
“I think Ashish Bhowmick is an outstanding groundsman, he knows his job. He has learnt it the hard way. He worked with Daljit Singh, who was a master curator. “Who will complain against a track like this? It is fantastic entertainment, for both teams and the game and the result 3-1 doesn’t really suggest how close the series was.”
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Shastri lauded the team for making it to the WTC final despite the ICC changing the qualification criteria last year. “For us to be on the top of the table in World Test championship is two-and-a-half years of work and for those years to be successful, it’s been six years prior to that,” he said.
“The boys took one series at a time, they were not really bothered about the World Test Championship because the goal post gets shifted every time. “We were heading the table and some rule change came of percentage system when we were not even playing but never mind all that, we have got 520 points, we deserve to be on top of the table and playing that final.”
With several bilateral series hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICC had made percentage of points earned as the criteria to determine the World Test Championship’s standings. Shastri blamed fatigue for the team’s loss in the first Test in Chennai. “It could have been different if we had a few more days off but no excuse. Boys were like zombies, they were tired and there was no crowd to cheer them on. Because everything was flat and so was the performance,” he said.
“But then a kick on the back side to reignite the pride in the system can make a lot of difference and that showed in the last three Tests.” The 58-year-old said it is very satisfying to see the youngsters perform. “… when you see youngsters coming through the ranks and performing in such situation which are really tough. Not one individual calling the shots. We’ve given opportunities for youngsters and they have grabbed those and delivered,” he said.
“They have been in a corner but they have fought from there. This side refuses to give up. We were irrepressible in Australia and we are the same here too. “What Pant and Sundar pulled off yesterday was unreal because the pressure was on us and we were trailing by 50 and from there to get 360 was an outstanding achievement.”
The Indian players have been in the bio-bubble since the pre-IPL days in August last year and Shastri said they are desperate to get out of it soon.”Six months in the bubble, seeing the same faces day in day out, it is time for the bubble to burst (smiles). I know it’s still three weeks to go but the bubble will burst,” he said.