Shoaib Akhtar has joined the bandwagon of pitch critics who believe the surface used for the India-England Ahmedabad pink-ball Test wasn’t of Test-cricket level. The former Pakistan fast bowler believes that Team India are good enough to beat England even without banking on home advantage.
The newly reconstructed Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad hosted the second-ever day-night Test in India last week. The Test lasted less than two days, with 28 of the 30 wickets falling to spinners. England could only manage a match aggregate of 193 runs as India registered a 10-wicket win.
Speaking in a video posted on his YouTube channel, Shoaib Akhtar criticized India’s ploy and stated that the hosts are good enough to beat England on "fair" pitches. He also referred to India’s wins in unfavorable conditions in Australia earlier this season.
“I thought India are a bigger, better team than this. There should be fair play and fair pitches where I think India can still beat England. They don’t need to be scared. There is no need for India to prepare such wickets.
“Did we make the wicket in favour of India in Adelaide? Was the wicket in Melbourne made in favour of India? How did they win the series there? You play on fair ground, fair conditions and say ‘Look, we can play well at home and abroad’,” said Shoaib Akhtar.
Shoaib Akhtar mentioned Joe Root’s five-wicket haul to further elaborate on the nature of the surface. The England captain, a part-time off-spinner, claimed the first five-for in his first-class career in the pink-ball Test last week.
Shoaib Akhtar urged India to take home advantage from the third or fourth day onwards:
“So I think India must look at this thing. They are a much better team than this. You are a much better, far better side than this… playing on these kinds of pitches. I guarantee it. Take home advantage on Day 3, 4; it’s understandable. But unfortunately, over here, if Joe Root is getting wickets.”
A pitch with unreasonable turn isn’t good for Test cricket: Shoaib Akhtar
Shoaib Akhtar explained how matches finishing inside two days is not suitable for the health and longevity of Test cricket.
Criticizing the unreasonable turn, the Rawalpindi Express cited that even Indian batters struggled on the surface and folded for 145 in their first innings.
“Should Test matches be played on such wickets? Not at all. A pitch where there is so much unreasonable turn that a match gets finished in two days is not good for Test cricket.
“I understand the concept of home advantage, but this sort of advantage, I believe, is a little too much. If India had scored 400 runs and England got out for 200, then one could say that England played poorly. But here, even India was shot out for 145,” added Shoaib Akhtar, who played 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is for Pakistan between 1997 and 2011.
Shoaib Akhtar hopes India will dish out a sporting wicket in the fourth and final Test at the same venue in Ahmedabad.
A defeat in the third Test has shut the door for England to qualify for the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final at Lord’s. A draw or a win for India in the final Test will guarantee them qualification for the mega event in June.