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Indian opener defends Pune pitch

Indian opener defends Pune pitch

BANGALORE: Opener Murali Vijay on Wednesday rejected the idea that the Pune pitch was to blame for India’s drubbing in the first Test against Australia despite it being classified as ‘poor’ by the match referee.

Virat Kohli’s team crumbled twice for totals of 105 and 107 in the two innings at Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, going down to less fancied Australia by 333 runs.

The nature of the Pune track, which turned sharply from day one, prompted the ICC match referee Chris Broad to express concern over the quality of the pitch.




But speaking ahead of the second Test, which begins in Bangalore on Saturday, Vijay resisted the temptation to blame the pitch for India’s meek showing in Pune which brought an end to a 19-match unbeaten run.

“I don’t say the Pune wicket was a poor wicket. It was a challenging wicket from ball one,” he told reporters. “As cricketers we need to play on such wickets to test your ability rather than playing on flat tracks.”

Vijay, who registered scores of 10 and 2 in his two outings in Pune, expected a sporting track at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium but insisted that he is not too bothered about the character of the wicket.

“Personally I don’t go into a match seeing the wicket. I go into the middle with an open mind and look to adapt according to the pitch conditions,” said Vijay.

Vijay said the team was keen on addressing key issues like dropped catches which allowed Australian skipper Steve Smith four lives during the batsman’s gritty century in the second innings.

Smith’s 109 helped the tourists set India a daunting target of 441 and duly take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series between the two top sides.

“We had a chat about it [improving fielding] and we are working on few of the areas where we could have done much better in the last Test match,” said Vijay, who was among those who spilled a catch. “We are looking forward to this game and hopefully we can pull off those catches.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s defeat in the home series against South Africa helped them galvanise, opening batsman David Warner said on Wednesday.

Australian cricket plunged into a crisis after a 3-0 whitewash in Sri Lanka was followed by successive home defeats to South Africa.

After a national outcry forced wholesale changes, Smith’s side recovered by winning the final Test against South Africa in Adelaide before beating Pakistan 3-0.

In Pune, they took just two-and-a-half days to secure a first Test triumph in India since 2004.

“It was obviously quite painful, that loss at home. South Africa outplayed us, but we’ve moved on from that and Smudge [Smith] got us all together and we galvanised well,” Warner told reporters.

“I think it takes a loss like that at home sometimes to really get guys going. It’s not that we needed that, it’s just the fact it’s a bit of a reality check that you can have one bad session, and it can be taken away from you even on home soil.”

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2017

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