New Delhi: Mahendra Singh Dhoni might be asking for rank turners against England in the upcoming series, but the question uppermost in everyone’s mind is whether India have the firepower in the spin department to bowl out England twice.
Going by the present composition of the team, Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha select themselves. India have not played with three spinners for a long time and, it remains to be seen whether the hosts will accommodate a tweaker in place of a pacer.
It is the third spinner’s slot that will worry the team management.
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One would have thought that the new selection committee would try out a couple of spinners in the warm- up games and assess the form of Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra or Piyush Chawla. But the selectors, probably, want to keep their cards close to the heart.
Legendary spinner Erapalli Prasanna believes seasoned pro Harbhajan is not in a position to be picked as the obvious third spinner behind Ashwin and Ojha.
“Harbhajan isn’t the force that he used to be and on current form, he isn’t an obvious choice. If India need to play a third spinner, it has to be either Piyush Chawla or Amit Mishra. But then the selectors haven’t tried them out to check if they are ready to play at the highest level. At present, I doubt if India will play three spinners. Ideally they should go in with two spinners and two pacers,” he told MAIL TODAY. “Honestly, our bowling is at an all-time low and the condition of the pacers isn’t any better. I doubt we have the firepower in the bowling to bowl the opposition out twice.”
Former spinner Maninder Singh echoed Prasanna’s sentiments. He feels post Harbhajan’s dip in form, India no longer have match-winning spinners. “After Anil Kumble’s retirement and Harbhajan’s dip in form, I don’t think we have had genuine match-winning spinners who can rip opposition teams apart. I feel even the current duo of Ashwin and Ojha have a long way to go before they can be match-winners. The just concluded series against New Zealand can’t be a consideration."
“While Ashwin has been trying too many varieties rather than using his variety as a stock delivery, Ojha thinks too much. He should rather concentrate on bowling because he can be a match-winner, if he concentrates on bowling,” he said.
“But Harbhajan’s situation irks me. Nobody has tried to instill confidence in him and repose the faith that he is a good bowler and get him back to being an attacking bowler that he once was rather than bowling the defensive way that he now does.”
Former spinner Venkatapathy Raju feels dishing out rank turners could backfire if the Indian batsmen too falter to cope with the likes of Graeme Swann.
“During Australia’s tour of India in 2001, we lost the first Test after preparing a rank turner in Mumbai. The wickets in Kolkata and Chennai were far better and turned gradually. I think that ploy is much safer than rank turners because then the toss becomes crucial and even our batsmen could be caught on the wrong foot,” he told MAIL TODAY.
If present form is considered, preparing a spinning track, rather than a rank turner, would be ideal.