‘Want the ball to turn from Day 1’: Ravi Shastri wants turning tracks in Border-Gavaskar Trophy

With the Border-Gavaskar Trophy just days away from starting, there has been a lot of focus on the pitches that will be prepared for the four Tests. Former Australia wicketkeeper Ian Healy even went on to say that Australia will have an advantage if pitches for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy are not “unfair” ones — ones that are rank turners from the start. However, former Australian cricketer Ian Chappell has shot down his compatriot’s comments.

“What Ian Healy said that Australia will have the advantage… a lot of that is based on what Australia has done at home. They’re not playing at home. They’re playing in India. Why anyone would think that India don’t start with an advantage, I don’t know,” he said in a virtual press conference facilitated by Star Sports. “There’s a lot of crap spoken about pitches. I believe no one other than the curator should have a say on what wickets are produced. I don’t think it should be up to the players, the manager, the coach, anybody! You just produce a good pitch. Surely a curator has been a player and wants to produce a good pitch.”

He added whenever he had asked curators what kind of pitch they thought was a good one, they said that one which saw a team winning on the fifth day after tea. “That should be the aim of all curators,” he added.

Former India coach Ravi Shastri, meanwhile, said he wants to see the ball turning from the first day. “I want the ball to turn from Day 1! If you lose the toss, so be it. You want to see the ball turning a bit. Or something there for the bowlers on offer from Day 1. It’s your strength. You’re playing at home. Capitalise on it,” he said.

Advantage India

Despite the fact that Australia have not won a Test series in India since 2004, some former players Down Under have backed the world’s top-ranked test team to return victorious from India.

However, Chappell firmly believes the India will have the advantage. “Those comments coming from Australia are based on how they have performed at home. Playing well in Australia is a hell of a lot different than playing well in India. They have some players who are talented enough to do well in India. But the thing is you can go to India with a lot of confidence, but if they suddenly get you out cheaply, how long can you maintain that confidence in India. That’s crucial. Anyone giving Australia the advantage is talking through their hat! India have got to start as the favourites. But that shouldn’t bother the Australians. They should be going to India thinking they can win the series,” he said.

Shastri, meanwhile, lauded the Indian team for the resolve they have shown over the last few series against Australia.

“Just what Australia does to sides who tour there, India does to sides who tour here. Australia will really have to be on top of their game to really threaten India,” he said before adding that India should back themselves to win the series by a two-game margin.

Asked whether India versus Australia was the greatest rivalry in modern-day sport, Shastri replied: “No question. It’s not just the cricket on the field. The buzz that an India-Australia series creates is second to none in world cricket. India is one of the teams that has really competed against Australia. That’s what has got everybody to watch the series. More than anything else, credit must be given to the Indian players for making that happen. Australia always had a reputation: of playing in a certain fashion and dismantling sides. For India to step up and play them at their own game speaks volumes for the way the Indian players have performed over the last few years.”

Shastri was also asked what had changed for the Indians to make the step up. “We went to Australia to beat them. That’s what changed. You went there with no excuses whatsoever when it came to the conditions, the pitches we played on. Very early in that series I had said we’re going to take the pitch out of the equation. This thing about playing at home and playing overseas… to hell with that. You’re playing cricket on a 22-yard strip which is the same for both sides. Our endeavor was to take 20 wickets before they could take 20 wickets. And we did that.”

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