Pacers to play crucial role at Eden: Dhoni
Kolkata, Dec 4: India’s last-minute ploy of fielding three spinners for the Mumbai Test could not save the hosts from a 10-wicket drubbing at the hands of a resurgent England side. As Team India gears up for the third Test, at the Eden Gardens, MS Dhoni hinted that they will include a second fast bowler in place of a spinner.
"I don't think there will be much help for the spinners initially. At this time of the year, fast bowlers get some swing at the start of the play and towards the end. Fast bowlers will be really crucial,” he said.
The decision as to which of the three spinners – R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh – should be left out, might get easier for the Indian captain as Harbhajan has been advised rest after recovering from flu. The veteran off-spinner, who has played 99 Test matches for India, missed the team’s practice session on the eve of the Test.
With Umesh Yadav ruled out due to a sore back, in all likelihood Bengal pacer, Ashok Dinda, will get a game on his home ground.
Despite the heavy loss on the turning and bouncing Wankhede wicket in the second Test, the Indian captain maintained his stance on the type of pitches he wants to play Tests on in India.
"We will stick to tracks that offer turn,” Dhoni said. “Irrespective of the results – we lost the last game – we want to play on a wicket that suits the subcontinent conditions. That's what it is. Australia and England might not win some games in their conditions but they stick to the speciality there. It's the same for subcontinental teams.
"When it comes to the subcontinent, it's the spinners who play a crucial role. Whatever the result maybe we should stick to those kind of wickets, which is our speciality,” Dhoni said.
"It's a big part, or else, the concept of playing around the world and the challenge attached with it goes down the drain. Sometimes we see that even five days are not enough to get a result. I feel the challenges are when you play on tracks that assist spin. It does not matter if you lose a few games or win the series."
According to Dhoni, the key to India taking a 2-1 lead in the series in Kolkata will be a first innings lead. "It's important to take a first innings lead. It sets up the game. It's very important to be at par in the first two or three days as we have seen that the games change in the last two days. Then we see what kind of wear and tear is there."
Of late Dhoni has also been fielding questions over his senior batsmen’s indifferent form. Openers, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, have not been scoring the runs required to match their own and the team’s high expectations of them. Dhoni continued to stand by his players.
"We have a side that relies a lot on the openers. But we don't want to put any extra pressure on them, we want them to enjoy the game. Viru is someone who loves to express himself. It takes a matter of time."
Runs in Test cricket have also deserted Dhoni for a while now. And with the team losing a match, that got highlighted again. However, the Indian skipper took the criticism in his stride.
"In India, you get a lot of support when you do well and the people will try to pull you down when the team is not doing well. I am not really bothered. I am just trying to do to the best of my potential."
He also denied the notion that his wicketkeeping duty is affecting his batting. "It's very demanding but I don't really think it affects your game a lot. It's important to back what your strength is.
"Especially when you have led the side for three years, you would get into the situation. You see both the sides of the coin. The most important thing is to choose the middle path. It's the most difficult thing to do as emotions get in. The bottom line is to stay in the middle."