MSD rules out inclusion of third spinner
Mumbai, Nov 22: When talking about India’s recent Test wins at home, the mention of their spinners is mandatory. R Ashwin and Pragyan have forged what looks like a potentially long match-winning partnership on home soil, their latest exploit together being 13 wickets in the first Test against England, in Ahmedabad.
Given the spinners’ success against the England batsmen, there are calls of going into the second Test with three of them. But on the eve of the Mumbai game, MS Dhoni made it clear that India will stick with the bowling attack of two pacers and two spinners.
“We’re looking for the 2-2 combination as it gives a better balance to the side,” he said. “Also, you don’t know whether you’re going to bowl or bat first. Generally the first day wicket is pretty good. In such case, when there’s no turn for the spinners and the ball is not stopping, it gets difficult for them to stop the batsmen from scoring freely,” he said.
Explaining further his strategy of going in with two quicker bowlers, Dhoni said the conditions in Mumbai suit the pacers more than most of the venues in India.
“The fast bowlers will definitely get some swing here and as the game progresses the wicket may dry down. If the ball is maintained properly the pacers will come back into action with reverse swing.
“Also, this wicket generally has a bit more bounce than some of the other wickets in the country. I think the fast bowlers’ role will be crucial,” he said.
Although the combination will remain the same, India’s bowling attack might change for the second Test. Umesh Yadav, who bowled his heart out in Ahmedabad, is down with a sore back. “Umesh is doubtful for this Test. Since we play with two pacers and two spinners, I don’t think we can take a risk with him. So, he will, most likely, miss this Test,” the Indian captain revealed.
Known for keeping his playing XI a secret until the toss, Dhoni slightly hinted that Ishant Sharma might be preferred over Ashoke Dinda for the Test. While India will have to make a forced change in the fast bowling department, Dhoni confirmed he will not break the Ashwin-Ojha pair.
“Bhajji pa (Harbhajan Singh) will have to wait for his Test,” Dhoni said. “Everyone gets a chance. Ashwin and Ojha are doing really well right now. We’re looking forward to this Test to see how they fair in conditions that will be slightly different. There will be some extra bounce for them which I’m sure the spinners love.”
Of late Dhoni has been extremely critical of the wickets that are dished out for Test matches in India. He has, time and again, advocated for pitches that assist the spinners from day-one. When asked about the track to be used for the second Test, Dhoni said in jest, “It looks good. But I will delay my decision for five days. If it doesn’t turn and assist the spinners, I can come back here and criticise it.”
There are many who believe that it will be an uphill task for England to get back into the series after the heavy defeat in the first game. But Dhoni refused to buy into the theory that first Test has a major impact on the ultimate result of the series.
“Very often people talk of how difficult it is to make a comeback in the series after losing the first Test,” he said. “But the fact is that the start of the second Test is a fresh one. You have to begin from the scratch. I don’t think these days it is really difficult to get out of a loss.
“I think the Twenty20 format has taught us how to be in the same state of mind irrespective of the result of the match,” said the Indian skipper.
To draw level with India in this Test, England will be highly dependent on their skipper to score the runs, especially after his gritty 176 in the first Test. Dhoni, however, said India will not channel all their focus on getting one batsman out.
“Cook’s wicket is valuable but I won’t say that he’s the most valuable wicket. England have other batsmen who can really score big runs at a good pace. I believe the last four wickets shouldn’t be allowed to stick around for long. They are the most valuable ones.”