| Virender Sehwag watches Sachin Tendulkar perform a juggling act during practice in Mohali on Tuesday. (PTI)
Mohali: Blaming the flat track in Ahmedabad for India’s failure to force a result in their favour, coach John Wright Tuesday said officials responsible for preparing the wickets should keep the home advantage factor in mind.
Wright said the Ahmedabad track had nothing to offer to the bowlers even on the fourth and fifth day and the “world class” spinners in both the teams struggled to get any purchase. “It is the responsibility of people preparing the wickets to keep these things in mind. Sometimes, you probably need to raise these points with people responsible,” Wright told reporters here.
“It’s unusual in India that the team batting first scores 500 runs in the first innings and there is no assistance to the bowlers in the later stages of the match,” he said. “We have to play on wickets that are given to us. Sometimes you hope for a little bit of home advantage. It is the case in all the countries. In Australia, they make sure that their wickets never turn.”
Like captain Sourav Ganguly, Wright also came out in support of the Indian bowlers and said it would be unfair to expect them to win the match on such a flat track. “There were three world class spinners — Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Daniel Vettori — playing in the match. They all struggled on the track. But the long spells will help them in the subsequent match,” he said. “We played good cricket but we could not finish the match in the way we desired”, he said.
The coach said he was particularly pleased with the way the batsmen performed in the first Test. “It was a good performance and I am pleased with the batting. In bowling, I think Zaheer (Khan) did a good job, particularly in the first innings.”
On New Zealand treating the Ahmedabad outcome as a morale victory, Wright said: “It is not an unusual kind of reaction from opposition teams.”
Asked whether four specialist bowlers were sufficient to do the job in Test matches, Wright said: “Four bowlers can do a fine job, unless conditions demand otherwise.”
Wright also gave a vote of confidence to young Delhi opener Akash Chopra, who made his Test debut in Ahmedabad, saying he was quite happy the way he played. “It is important to give some space to the newcomers. You have to have faith on them and show it. You have to allow these players to settle down.”
The Indians had a strenuous practice session at the PCA stadium in the afternoon under the watchful eyes of the coach. Many of the senior players, including captain Sourav Ganguly, Sachin, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag, who held discussions with cricket board president Jagmohan Dalmiya on graded payment in New Delhi yesterday, flew into Chandigarh this afternoon amid tight security.
Ross issues warning
Meanwhile, New Zealand coach Ashley Ross sent a warning, saying his team has the ability succeed on any condition: “I am pleased with the players and their ability to settle down in different conditions. We are fully prepared for the challenge ahead,” Ross said. Ross said his team managed to negotiate the Indian spinners quite well in Ahmedabad which should serve as a confidence-booster when they take the field in the series decider beginning Thursday.
“It is great for New Zealand players to face such great spinners in Indian conditions. Facing them is a great challenge.” Ross, however, also said: “There are still a lot of areas where we can improve. With every match you have to improve. What is important is to adapt to a given set of conditions.”
For Mohali, Ross indicated the team management could opt for a different XI, considering the conditions here. “There is every chance that we may choose a different XI for this Test match” he said.
On the Mohali track Ross said: “We played here four years back and are aware of its reputation. We are excited by the challenge. It’s an interesting wicket. We plan well in advance. It helps us enormously.”
Ross also had a bit of advice for India’s pitch authorities saying that slow tracks would not help the Indian team when they play abroad.