Kapil takes Shastri’s side in pitch controversy

Jaipur, Nov 3 (IANS) Supporting Ravi Shastri in the pitch controversy involving him and Wankhede stadium’s curator Sudhir Naik, former captain Kapil Dev on Tuesday said the Indian cricket team’s director was right in demanding a pitch that suited the home side.

Controversy erupted as India suffered a heavy loss against South Africa in the fifth and deciding One-Day International (ODI) thanks to three hundreds from the visiting batsmen to surrender the series 2-3.

Following the match, Shastri allegedly abused Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) curator and his former teammate Naik for preparing a flat wicket, further fuelling debates on whether the hosts should prepare pitches that suit them, not the tourists.

The country’s cricket governing body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has formed a panel to look into the matter. The panel will submit its report soon.

“I completely support Shastri. The home team should always play to their comfort and that suit them, not the opponents. When you go to South Africa or anywhere, you get to play on the pitches that are against you,” Kapil said during the launch of a tournament in Rajasthan, ‘Saath: 7, Cricket Mahotsav’ here.

“Cricket is not played to please your guests. We have every reason and right to have home advantage that comes from the pitch. Hence, we must prepare pitches that suit our team combination,” the 1983 World Cup-winning captain reiterated.

Even though India lost the Twenty20 and ODI series against the Proteas, the former star all-rounder has confidence in captain Virat Kohli, who will lead the hosts in the four-match Test series starting in three days time in Mohali.

“Sometimes you lose and sometimes you win but you must be competitive and I am hoping the same from the Test team. Hopefully, Kohli will do well as a captain and so does the team.

Kapil, however, refused to draw captaincy comparison between Dhoni and Kohli, saying the latter has miles to go. He referred to current limited overs captain Dhoni as “baap (father figure)” who has been the leader since 2008, while Kohli started his term in one of the most high pressure jobs in world cricket this year only.

“Baap baap hota hai, beta beta hota hai…,” Kapil said referring to Dhoni’s long span at the helm of the Indian team. “Kohli will take time but will ultimately reach the level.”

However, Kapil, who recently courted controversy by saying former batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar didn’t maximise his talent, declined further comment on the issue.

“It is media’s way to view my comments in whichever way they can. I don’t want to say anything on it,” he insisted.

Speaking about Virender Sehwag, who recently said he will forever regret not getting the chance to play a farewell match to mark the end of his international career, Kapil said the Delhi opening batsman has achieved a lot in his career and should be happy with his exploits.

“It is upon the selectors whether to pick someone or drop someone or to discuss about the future of a cricketer. Moreover, Sehwag has done well in his career and he should be happy with it.”

“No person gets whatever he desires. By playing one more match, Sehwag would not become any greater or a lesser player.”

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