All eyes on Chepauk

India may go into the first Test against Australia with three spinners.

Spin Twins: Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha.BANGALORE: The third and final day of training at the National Cricket Academy here marked the end of India’s preparatory phase ahead of the four-Test series against Australia. The 15-member squad had a last tilt at gearing up for the crucial contest on Monday by going through routine practice, but the identity of India’s attack going into the first Test remained a topic for deliberation.

Captain MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher were seen deep in conversation as seamers Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashok Dinda had a bowl. With the Chepauk wicket – where the first Test begins on February 22 – having a history of facilitating spin, India’s bowling composition for the opening game is under scrutiny.

The home team can go with their leading spinners Pragyan Ojha and Ravi Ashwin and two fast bowlers, aided by all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm fare at No.6. Another option would be to throw comeback man Harbhajan Singh in the mix, in which case it will be three tweakers plus a solitary fast bowler – Ishant or Bhuvneshwar – to take the shine off.

Harbhajan’s inclusion may also be influenced by the southpaw-heavy nature of the Aussie batting line up. India’s decision to play three spinners had backfired against England in the second Test at Mumbai last year as Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann ran circles around the home batsmen.

Australia, however, are a greener team. Their vulnerability to the turning ball surfaced alarmingly in the practice match against India ‘A’ at Chennai recently. The Shane Watson-led eleven lost nine first innings wickets to the combination of off-spinner Jalaj Saxena and left-armer Rakesh Dhruv.

In their earlier practice match, the Australians had succumbed to Board President's XI's off-spinning all-rounder Parvez Rasool, who finished with figures of 7/45. Ojha, Ashwin and Harbhajan bowled continously for a couple of hours on Sunday while the fast bowlers, who had on Sunday hurled around an ‘Aggot’ ball (a flat-sided sphere that fosters swing and movement), reverted to a regular orb on the last day of practice.

The first session was spent on indoor facilities and only after lunch did nets witness the turmoil that accompanies an international outfit: cameras, the odd cute fan and regular hangers on. The three-hour long session saw almost everyone taking turns to hone their respective skills, except Dhoni who didn’t bat outdoors. The Indian squad leaves  for Chennai on February 19.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

As much as Pietersen's availability is a boost, the loss of a potent death bowler might sting Delhi badly. More »

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Mumbai have explosive hitters down the order in the form of Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard, but the lack of contributions from them has compounded their… More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan, who has been replaced by the court as board president, was named the BCCI's representative to the ICC last September. However, that position… More »

Atapattu tipped to coach Sri Lanka in England

Atapattu tipped to coach Sri Lanka in England

Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya issued the strongest indication yet that Marvan Atapattu would be appointed coach for the tour of Ireland… More »

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

England's new assistant coach Paul Farbrace admitted that it was impossible turn down the job even though he will have mixed feelings when he faces… More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »