Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has joined the list of former cricketers who believe the pitch used in the third Test between India and England was not an ideal advert for Test cricket. Akhtar feels India is a team good enough to beat England even without banking on terms such as 'home advantage' and explained how matches finishing inside two days is not good for the health and longevity of Test cricket.
"Should Test matches be played on such wickets? Not at all. A pitch where there is so much unreasonable turn, that a match gets finished in two days, is not good for Test cricket," Akhtar said on his YouTube channel.
"I understand the concept of home advantage but this sort of advantage I believe is a little too much. If India had scored 400 runs and England got out for 200, then one could say that England played poorly. But here, even India was shot out for 145."
Akhtar went on to say that if India can beat Australia on their soil while playing on pitches suited for the Aussies, there should be no need to prepare spin-friendly surfaces. 28 of the 30 wickets to fall in the Ahmedabad Test belonged to spinners. Axar Patel and R Ashwin combined to pick up 18 wickets in the match bowling England out for 112 and 81 in the two innings. Skipper Joe Root himself ended up grabbing a maiden First-Class five-wicket-haul bowling India out for 145 in the first innings.
"I thought India is a bigger, better team than this. There should be fair play and fair pitches where I think India can still beat England. They don't need to be scared. There is no need for India to prepare such wickets. Did we make the wicket in favor of India in Adelaide? Was the wicket in Melbourne made in favor of India? How did they win the series there? You play on fairground, fair conditions and say 'Look, we can play well at home and abroad," Akhtar added.
"So I think India must look at this thing. They are a much better team than this. You are a much better, far better side than this… playing on these kinds of pitches. I guarantee it. Take home advantage, on Day 3, 4, it's understandable. But unfortunately, over here, if Joe Root is getting wickets."
In the end, Akhtar pointed out that he expects a better pitch for the fourth and final Test of the series, once again reiterating that India are not the kind of team that would bank on pitches to work to their advantage.
"I am expecting a fair pitch for the fourth Test. India should go out there and make sure they prepare one of the best pitches for the next Test match and I am sure that you have the capacity on any pitch. You don't need to take home advantage. Just go out there and play and I'm sure they will win the series. If India can beat Australia on their soil, they can easily win at home," Akhtar said.