Kris Srikkanth

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India should play on sporting home pitches

Test matches in the subcontinent tend to go to one extreme or the
other. Either you get a square turner on which the visiting batsmen
generally don't stand a chance or you get a wicket that is so placid
that the bowlers of both sides have no chance. When wickets swing to
the extreme like the one at Chepauk for the first Test, what you get is
a onesided contest in which the bowlers of both sides stand very little
chance of dominating the proceedings.

The runs batsmen score may
always be attractive but when you know they are getting them without
even having to try too hard, spectators tend to get bored with the
action.

I know the Chennai weather may have to take the blame for much of the way the wicket is playing.

The groundsmen have not had the opportunity to prepare the pitch by constant rolling and watering as they would have liked to.

I don't blame the bowlers for failing as they did in South Africa's first innings of 540.

The point everyone has to accept is Indian cricket does not have to switch to spinning pitches to win Tests.

Today,
the attack has a balanced look to the extent of the Indian team winning
a match in Perth, said to be the fastest pitch in the world.

If
you look at India's record over the last couple of seasons, you will
realise that there is no need at all to play on docile pitches or on
deliberately prepared turners.

If India can win Tests at
Wanderers, Trent Bridge and Perth why should any captain fear to play
on sporting pitches at home? My opinion is if you start preparing
sporting pitches for home series, the crowds will start patronising
Test matches too. If there is a nice tussle for runs between bat and
ball and at the end of five days there is a result, the fans will go
home happy.

Indian cricket has matured to a point where it can
take on the world, even aim for the top spot that Australia has been
occupying for so long. We can do so by being positive rather than try
to sneak a win on a turning pitch and preserve our number two position
on the ranking.

Had we been in South Africa's strong position if
Kumble won the toss and the batsmen had piled on the runs, everyone
would have gone home happy with the feeling that our bowlers would win
the game on a wearing pitch. The fact is Indian team can win on any
surface.

Having said that, I must compliment the South African
openers and Hashim Amla for making the best possible use of fine
batting conditions.

They were not overwhelmed by the thought of
playing India on alien soil. Having played recently in Bangladesh, they
showed they have the patience to work the bowling in such pitches and
put up a big total on the board with which their bowlers can try to
exert pressure.

It may not be easy for any team to squeeze out a
result in such conditions although I have the sneaking feeling that
South Africa is not altogether safe despite scoring 540 runs.

If
they don't rein in the free scorers like Sehwag they would have to bat
nervously a second time on the final day to save this one.

Republished with permission from The Asian Age

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