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MS Dhoni critical of Asia Cup pitches, carefully dodges criticising umpire

Dhoni talks about umpiring decisions, Yuvraj Singh, and the nature of Bangladeshi pitches

MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh after leading India across the line against Pakistan

At the post-match press conference after India’s 5-wicket victory over Pakistan, captain MS Dhoni held forth on the nature of pitches that have been provided for the Asia Cup matches till now. He said that while the grass-covered pitches pose a challenge to his team, it is probably not good for preparing for the World T20, or for the crowd.

There has been a lot of seam movement and bounce possible on the pitches, and India, despite winning both their matches, have often found their batsmen looking uncomfortable. They have overcome the conditions to post comfortable victories over their neighbours, but their captain thinks the matches have been too low-scoring.

On being asked his opinion about the pitches seen so far in the tournament, Dhoni said, “We scored 166 in one match but frankly we were going to score 140. Other than that there have been low-scoring games, which I feel is not that good. We thought it would be good practice ahead of the World T20, so it's not a good practice in terms of hitting but yes in terms of respecting the conditions.

"The reason why people love T20 is the sixes and fours. At the same time you don't want (teams scoring) 80s and 100s. Low scoring should be 130-140 and high-scoring can be 200 or 240.”

Mirpur is the most frequented cricket venue in Bangladesh, and it is possible that the grass cover on the pitch – which has been added cut grass rather than live grass – has been put so that the pitches remain in good shape towards the end of the Asia Cup. For short tournaments such as these, adding cut grass is an often followed procedure.

Umpires officiating with only one ear: Dhoni

Dhoni also sounded displeased with the umpiring decisions in the India-Pakistan match, though his team claimed some benefits of umpiring mistakes in the match as well. Virat Kohli missed out on his half-century after a heroic knock because umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge gave him out lbw, not being able to spot a distinct inside edge off the bat.

Kohli smiled at the umpire and stood his ground for a while after the finger had been raised. He even pointed to his bat to indicate that he had got a touch, but he had to make his way back – with one run remaining for his individual half century and eight runs for victory.

Dhoni said, “I don't want to get banned before the World T20. The umpiring, you've all seen it yourself. The umpires have an ear piece and Walkie-talkie. Effectively they are umpiring with just one ear.”

He also said that there was a strategic reason for bowling Yuvraj Singh ahead of his other spinners, a move which paid off as Yuvraj cleaned up Umar Akmal with his very first ball. Dhoni also praised Yuvraj’s application while batting, reiterating that his approach had been good, considering the conditions.

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