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Kevin Pietersen has doubled down on his brutal assessment of the third Test, slamming the batting from India and England as “absolutely dreadful” while also taking a swipe at the latter’s selectors.
The match in Ahmedabad was the shortest completed Test since 1935, with just 842 balls bowled and 338 runs scored in the first three innings.
The pitch came heavily under fire for producing a two-day Test — Michael Vaughan and David Lloyd said it was a reduced to a “lottery” — but Pietersen argued in the aftermath that the wicket “wasn’t horrendous” and the batting was mainly to blame for the brief spectacle.
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Writing in his blog for Betway ahead of Thursday’s fourth Test, the England great again roasted both teams’ batsmen for failing to adjust to a series of straight, skidding deliveries.
“Yes, the surface at Ahmedabad ensured that the ball was always likely to dominate in the third Test. But I’m just not having this nonsense about the pitch being unplayable. I’m not having it,” Pietersen wrote.
“The batting from both teams was absolutely dreadful.
“As a batsman, you guard against the straight deliveries. That should be your No.1 priority. If it beats you on the outside edge, that’s no problem.”
England captain Joe Root said after the Test that playing on the pitch was “very challenging, very difficult”, and that fans were “robbed” of a better contest.
But Pietersen said that there was no excuse, and took aim at his former team.
“The technique and skill levels on show were horrendous,” he wrote. “I’ve heard Kohli and Rohit Sharma concede this in the aftermath, but I’m yet to hear an England player say it.
“England players and fans can talk about the pitch, but I’ve played on pitches in England that have had so much grass on that batting is virtually impossible. You have to play the conditions.”
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Pietersen wrote that Ollie Pope was the only English player who used his feet properly — on occasion — and that it was “frustrating” to hear debate about the pitch when simple batting techniques were being bungled.
But the 40-year-old didn’t place blame for the defeat solely on England’s players, writing that he’s still “baffled” by the team’s selection policy.
With England rotating players throughout the series, Pietersen wrote: “I would like to hold the ECB’s selection panel to account for this defeat, because it’s an absolute disgrace that they haven’t sent their full-strength team to play against India in India.
“A series like this can define you as a player and define your career … Your career is all about taking these opportunities, so for England to have been rotating throughout this series is utterly disgraceful.”
Nonetheless, Pietersen still believes England can bounce back having learnt from its experiences in Chennai and Ahmedabad.
Root believes so too, urging his team to be “braver” and to free themselves from fear in the series finale.
Ever since Root’s double century in the series opener paved the way for a score of 578 and a landmark win, England have struggled against spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel.
Root’s side have been bowled out for 134, 164, 112 and 81 but he wants his team to stop being paralysed by worry and try to land a few more blows of their own.
“We’ve got all the ingredients, all the pieces and all the skills to exploit and succeed in these conditions,” he said.
“It is important we harness that, have it in the front of our mind and be a bit braver actually, play with a little bit more freedom.
“That doesn’t mean going out there and trying to slog it, or be ultra-aggressive — we need to play our game a certain way but it is about not being scared of the conditions.”
— With AFP