The Unprecedented Hype And The Disappointment

When the venue for the Third Test between India and England was scheduled to be played at the newly built and touted to be the largest stadium in the world , Motera , Ahmedabad there was lot of gung- ho about the venue . The media went overboard complimenting its grand facilities and showing all signs of naya bharat.

But when the action did get under way , the fans and critic were aghast to see the stadium named after Narendra Modi . The renaming sparked off a furore and a raging debate in the prime time. The opinion was sharply divided on the renaming of the said stadium . The bowling ends of the ground too caught the eye of many . One end was Reliance end and the other was Adani end . The names of two ends immediately drew attention . Senior Lawyer Prashant Bhushan in a scathing tweet wrote, So, Modi got the Sardar Patel stadium in Ahmedabad named after himself! And the 2 ends of the stadium after his 2 favourite cronies Ambani & Adani! Wah! What a sixer Modiji!. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi too did not shy away from taking yet another dig at the stadium with a tweet

This was the political  part. Turning to the game itself. The fans who had the opportunity to witness cricket after long time and a new venue were in for a shock .  Little did they fathom a five day match would end in two days and both teams  unable to play the the full 90 overs. The total scores said it all . England 112, 81, India ( 144, 49/0) . An astonishing 30 wickets fell in two days . The organisers worked hard to make the venue a eye catcher only spoli it with a third rate pitch.  Any other pitch or any other venue would have been ripped apart but  with Jay  Shah ( BCCI Secretary and son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, criticism is a serious offence it seems. Even if it is constructive in nature.

Axar Patel did the star turn picked up five wickets in England’s second innings after he had snapped six in the first inning to become the first bowler to claim more than 10 wickets in a day/night Test. He ended up with 11 wickets in the match. It has been dream start to his career but Indian cricket history is testimony that dream debut necessarily does not guarantee long career – remember right arm leg spinner L Sivaramakrishnan ( His second Test appearance was in the first Test against England at Bombay. His first wicket was Graeme Fowler who was caught and bowled. His 6 for 64 and 6 for 117 helped India to an eight wicket win) He played only 9 Tests after his impressive showing against England. He faded away soon. Leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani in his debut Test against West Indies,  Madras 1988 took 8 for 61 and 8 for 75 in first and second innings respectively and had match figures of 16 for 136 . Hirwani could not carry on the success and faded into oblivion after playing 17 Tests.

Coming to Motera , the pitch was surely a bad advertisement for Test cricket. Former English skippers Nasser Hussain , Kevin Pietersen were critical of the English batting. Another former skipper Michael Vaughan was hard- hitting in his tweet as he wrote, No winners this week … My reasons why the @ICC have to act fast to stop India & other teams producing very poor pitches in the future . Former India left-hander and 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh too tweeted about game

The reason why the India versus Australia Test series 2020- 21  was a riveting one because the wickets had it all . It was sporty and had role for both spinners and seam bowlers. All four Tests saw engrossing cricket with match swinging  from one another session by session.  When India won it under Ajinkya Rahane 2-1 the victory was stupendous  and one to cherish for long .  It showed the real cricket is Test cricket  .  It would have been apt if Motera too had a sporting track and fans would have enjoyed a thriller rather . That would have done wonders to the new stadium and the venue which is now under fire for its poor pitch instead  of  becoming a pride.  Hope the final Test is thriller and not a damp squib like the third.  That would be shattering for the purists of the game.

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