Former captain Sourav Ganguly feels that India’s pace trio of Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami have to lift their game as one can’t expect Ravichandran Ashwin or a Ravindra Jadeja to pick fifers consistently on good pitches against quality opposition. “On a Day 1 pitch like this (Rajkot), the fast bowlers need to come into play. That’s why I keep harping that play on good pitches in India, so that you learn how to play overseas,” Ganguly told ESPN Cricinfo.
Not one to hold back, the straight talking former skipper said that pitches that they played against South Africa (2015) and Australia (2013) were absolute “minefields” (common terminology for underprepared tracks).
He also pointed out that it will be impossible for Ashwin to get five-wicket hauls consistently.
“We played South Africa. Four Tests on minefields and it doesn’t help anyone. If India play 5 Test matches on good pitches and Anil Kumble gets Shami, Yadav and Ishant to pick three wickets on the first day, India will become a better side. Because you don’t expect Ravichandran Ashwin or a Ravindra Jadeja on a flat pitch against a good batting side to pick five wickets. They might do it once or twice but it is impossible for them to do it consistently,” he stated.
Ganguly feels that India won’t grow if the skipper tosses up the ball to a spinner on rank turner and match finishes in three days.
“No point just tossing the ball upto the spinners and pitches which turn square from Day 1. You win and go home. It doesn’t help anyone and it doesn’t help this young side. I am happy that they are going through this grind. It’s a young side. You don’t need to win Test match in 3 days, you need to win Test matches in five days, you still won a Test match,” he was categorical in his assessment.
Senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had been critical of the pitches that India have played in the last few years and Ganguly also spoke in same vein.
“It’s still early days in this match but I completely agree that pitches against Australia and South Africa were absolute minefields. I remember the Test match in Delhi (vs Australia) where it ended in 3 days. You can’t produce Test pitches like these. I believe what’s happening is good for Indian cricket.”
As a president of CAB, Ganguly said that he was impressed that Virat Kohli not for once asked for a turner when India played against New Zealand at Kolkata.
“They played against New Zealand, I got no request from anyone. When Kohli met me, he asked me about the pitch, I said, “There’s a bit of grass on it. I kept watching him, what he did, first hand, three days that they were training. These are signs that will help them get better.”