India captain Virat Kohli has been accused of hypocrisy after taking aim at critics of the Ahmedabad pitch during the third Test against England.
Kohli's troops crushed England by 10 wickets in the pink-ball match that spanned just 842 balls, making it the shortest completed Test since 1934.
The cricket world has been left well and truly divided over the extraordinary match that saw India claim a 10-wicket victory inside two days at the Narendra Modi Stadium - the scene of the fourth and final Test match, starting at the same venue on Thursday.
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England were savaged after an abysmal batting effort, which saw spinners claiming 28 of the 30 wickets that fell in just five sessions.
It prompted a fierce debate in the cricketing world about the standard of the pitch, with Kohli insisting poor batting from both sides was to blame for the length of the match.
On the eve of the fourth Test, the India skipper has lit the fuse further by declaring that his team's success is built around a culture of not complaining about pitches, and owning their own shortcomings.
“There is always too much noise and too much conversation about spinning tracks,” Kohli said.
“The reason for our success has been that we haven’t cribbed about pitches that we played on and we would continue to play like that as a team.”
Kohli referenced a Test loss to New Zealand inside three days last year and claimed “none of our people wrote about the pitch, it was all about how India played badly in New Zealand and none of the pitches were criticised”.
However, the India skipper has been been reminded of previous comments he made after the side's first Test defeat to England in February.
“The reality of the situation is that the pitch was very flat and slow,” Kohli said at the time.
“I’m not saying that as an excuse and that we will hold onto as a team. But you have to understand the reality of what went on.
“Quality of the (SG) ball was also not what we were very pleased to see as that was also the case in the past. Just the ball completely being destroyed in 60 overs is not something that you experience as a Test side and any side could be prepared for.”
India skipper accused of hypocrisy
Kohli's comments have been pounced on by the English media and former players who have accused the India captain of hypocrisy.
“Kohli says India are successful ‘because we don’t crib about pitches’. Here are his thoughts after England won the first Test. Pitch was ‘flat and slow’, and the ball was not good quality," English cricket writer Lawrence Booth tweeted.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also weighed in: “Pretty sure the groundsman was sacked after the 1st Test because the pitch was too flat!!!!! Isn’t that cribbing about a pitch??” he tweeted.
“Pretty sure I heard a few complaints about the ball after the 1st Test.”
Journalist Chris Stocks says Kohli has left himself "open to ridicule when claiming neither conditions nor the ball have a bearing on the outcome of Test matches," particularly when teammates Ravi Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane and Axar Patel all spoke about how much quicker the pink ball skidded off the pitch during the third Test.
Despite both sides struggling with the bat in Ahmedabad, Kohli maintains his stance that "bizarre batting" and not the quality of the pitch, was to blame.
“If you make a cricket ball helping the bowlers a focus, or the pitch helping the bowlers a focus, you are not really reading the game properly,” said Kohli.
“It’s just the case of the wicket having more pace and bounce and I don’t think the red ball is going to change that whatsoever.
“I still maintain the result in the last game was purely down to bizarre batting.”
Kohli says the increasing amount of white-ball cricket being played around the world is to the detriment of Test cricket, particularly when it comes to producing batsmen that can bay for extended periods.
“I think because of the influence of white-ball cricket, more results are coming (in Test cricket). But I believe one by-product is that it has also compromised a batsman’s defensive technique,” Kohli said.
“The grind of playing through four or five sessions is missing. People are not focusing on so much defence as they have to switch between formats.”
India can seal a spot in the inaugural World Test Championship final against New Zealand with a win or a draw against England in the fourth Test.
If the tourists are victorious, however, Australia will instead take their place in the final.
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