Since India captain M.S. Dhoni asked for a spinner-friendly wicket, the controversy surrounding the pitch has been raging like a wild fire. It was the hot topic even when former cricketers — Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly, Navjot Sidhu, Rameez Raja and Arun Lal — were presented to the media here on Tuesday.

The five preferred to douse the fire with logical arguments. “India needs good pitches rather than an under-prepared one,” said Ganguly at a media interaction where the ESPN-STAR Sports presented five of its six Hindi commentators.

Captain of the 1983 World Cup-winning team Kapil Dev pitched for a surface where players could play good cricket. “One should not give much importance to issues like pitches and conditions. We should appreciate good play and whichever team plays well should be applauded,” he said.

Sidhu pointed out that the Indian spinners were upstaged by the English slow bowlers in the Mumbai Test. While questioning the reason for preparing turning tracks, he said the England team, by virtue of the victory, had managed to put pressure back on India going into the third Test.

Match-winner

When asked about Ricky Ponting’s comments that Brian Lara had more match-winning innings for his country than Tendulkar, Ganguly said, “Sachin has also won matches for India. Yes, Lara’s record against other teams is better than Sachin’s.”

Ganguly said Sachin was nearing 40 and one day he had to go. “But whatever he has done for India no one else has done.”

Kapil was shocked to see Harbhajan Singh’s body language during the second Test at Mumbai. “It is not easy to take 400 wickets in Test cricket. Harbhajan has so many wickets to his credit. No spinner in India is greater than Anil Kumble and Harbhajan,” he said.

Sidhu termed Tendulkar an institution and felt an institution needed to be respected. “He is like a tall mountain. All the criticism about him cannot move the mountain,” he said in his inimitable style.

Ganguly said the Eden Gardens pitch would help Tendulkar. “I know he is out of form. He only needs to cross 30-run mark; he will get a big one.”

The five players were unanimous on India winning the series provided it played on good pitches. They felt India needed to play to its strength than worry too much about the opponent’s weakness.

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