Ben Stokes defends spin-friendly pitches in India


Brushing aside claims of India dishing out spin-friendly pitches on purpose, England all-rounder Ben Stokes stated a Test player should be equipped to tackle any situation. He added both India and England, like other cricket-playing nations, come with their own set of challenges.

Ben Stokes’ comments came after former England captain Michael Vaughan raised a red flag about spinning tracks hampering Test cricket. While England negated the spin threat of both the pitch and India’s bowlers in their 227-run first Test win, the hosts romped to a 317-run victory in the second match on a surface which aided relatively more spin.

“The thing about being a Test batsman is that you need to be able to handle all types of conditions. India is one of the places where it is a lot tougher for overseas batsmen to come and be successful, but then so too is England. And that is part of the game, the challenges and why we love it,” Ben Stokes wrote in his column for the Daily Mirror.

While the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai had the spinners licking their lips, the pink ball Test at the refurbished Motera is likely to bring the faster bowlers into play. Ben Stokes also echoed similar sentiments while adding no one knows how the new surface will play.

“Generally around the world whenever these pink ball games are played, there is always a period when the ball starts doing a bit under lights and it brings the seamers right into the game. For us out here, that will be massive,” Ben Stokes mentioned.

“And at a brand new ground that looks pretty impressive, no one will know just how it will react. We’ve got a good spin department, but hopefully with conditions that suit, we’ve certainly got a seam department to back them up strongly,” Ben Stokes further added.

Notably, England are the last overseas side to have won a Test series in India. Sir Alastair Cook’s boys trumped the hosts 2-1 on the 2012/13 tour.

“Good thing is we know what it takes to win out here” – Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes’ only wicket in this series is that of Virat Kohli in the first Test [Credits: England Cricket]

The four-Test series is deadlocked at 1-1. Both matches have been dictated by the team winning the toss and opting to bat first, and then exploiting the glaring roughs and cracks that open up on the last 2-3 days.

Ben Stokes attributed the trend to “scoreboard pressure”, as the first innings of both Tests saw a lot of runs put on the board.

“Scoreboard pressure in Test cricket is probably at its most prominent in the subcontinent, and plays a massive part in trying to win the game. The good thing is we know what it takes to win out here, so it is about putting that into practice once more, learning what we can from the second Test and delivering this week,” Ben Stokes reasoned.

Wickets came at a premium for speedsters in the second Test, with star all-rounder Ben Stokes bowling just two overs in the first innings and none in the second. He hinted at sending down a few more deliveries with the pink ball.

“Don’t read too much into the fact that I didn’t bowl a huge amount in the second game, I’m sure if it was a green seamer, I would have bowled a lot more overs. I think there may be more reason for me to bowl under lights in the next game if it will help the team,” Ben Stokes added.

The third Test begins on Wednesday (February 24). While England need to win the remaining two matches to play New Zealand in the World Test Championship final, India need to win the series by at least a one-Test margin to qualify for the summit clash.

Published 22 Feb 2021, 12:13 IST


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