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Auckland pitch also under fire

Auckland: Rival captains Stephen Fleming and Sourav Ganguly were scathing about the Eden Park “drop-in” pitch for the first one-dayer between New Zealand and India on Thursday.

New Zealand won the tense, low-scoring affair by three wickets after being set 109 to win, but neither skipper was happy with the pitch which was transplanted three weeks ago and tended to balloon the ball off the surface.

“It certainly fooled me,” Fleming said. “I thought it was going to be a good wicket and that’s why I bowled first. It was very testing and a little two-paced and difficult to bat on. We are not asking for these types of wickets. We want to see quality cricket and you get quality cricket from good pitches.”

Sourav said the type of wicket India faced in the two Tests and now Thursday’s ODI, would turn off the public.

“I expected something better from today’s wicket,” said Sourav, whose side scored just 108 from 32.5 overs. “It doesn’t help the batsmen from either side and it doesn’t help cricket. If you get too many 100 each side ODIs then people just won’t turn up. It’s not just the batsmen it’s bad for. The bowlers are getting false returns.”

Fleming said the seamer’s dream wickets for the Wellington and Hamilton Tests, both won by New Zealand, had made the batsmen nervous.

“You’ve got to look at the frame of mind of the batsmen who have been playing over the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“There probably is a fair bit of negativity and often that can be just as damaging as a wicket that is seaming and is in favour of the bowlers.

“It does seem with the nature of dismissals today that the wicket was at fault, but the negativity is becoming a trend and trends are often hard to break.”

Sourav lamented blowing the chance to win the match when India had New Zealand on the ropes at 52 for six. “We had chances. Jacob Oram was very close to getting out to Kumble,” Sourav said, referring to an over of leg-before appeals that were turned down. “There were a few decisions that could have gone our way and it would have changed the game.”

“We could have done with Srinath in the Tests and it’s good to see the lay-off he’s had has done him well,” Sourav added.

Oram-Kumble altercation

Oram and Kumble were seen to have a brief verbal spat near the end of the tie. The altercation came just after Kumble had appealed on five occasions in one over for leg-before decisions against Oram.

All were turned down by Sri Lankan umpire Asoka de Silva, much to the anguish of Kumble.

Asked about it afterwards, Oram diplomatically said: “I was just saying how close his leg before decisions were and commenting on how well he was bowling. He agreed, and he said I was going all right and I’m seeing him later,” he quipped.

While it appeared an angrier confrontation from the sidelines, Sri Lankan Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle said what was said would stay on the pitch. (Reuters)

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