As India takes on Australia, Virat Kohli should rely on wrist spinners

The captain believes wrist spinners provide a great deal of surprise element and are very reliable.

 |  Gloves Off  |  4-minute read |   17-09-2017
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The other day, Ravi Shastri was talking about taxing schedules for the Indian cricketers. He had made a request to the Indian cricket board (BCCI) that tour schedules be better planned.

Given the current state of anarchy in cricket administration at home, player fatigue is something officials are not bothered about. Agreed, the gap between the recently-concluded Test and ODI series in Sri Lanka and the start of the ODI series against Australia in Chennai on Sunday is not enough.

But then, when Indian cricketers earn megabucks and are paid handsomely, one cannot complain about fatigue or too much cricket. In fact, even Kapil Dev’s suggestion that the Board of Control for Cricket in India buys its own airplane will have no meaning as jetlag will still be there.

It seems like yesterday, Steve Smith and his boys were in India for the Test series and did well. After the row over wages with their own cricket board, the Aussies have come to the sub-continent hoping to perform well against plenty of spin bowling.

Perhaps, it was the spin factor which saw the Aussies hire former Tamil Nadu first-class cricketer S Sriram as a spin consultant to face the Indians.

On Saturday, at the bald Chepauk track in Chennai, where even a barber would have been proud of the job done by the curator, Sriram had long nets for the Aussies with spinners in operation. Apparently, Sriram had even flown in Kerala left arm chinaman bowler KK Jiyas so that the Aussies could be ready to face Kuldeep Yadav.

This is not the first time the Aussie will face Kuldeep, who had flummoxed the visitors in the Dharmashala Test earlier this year. For his part, Sriram’s brief as spin consultant will include pepping up the Aussie spin attack, which has left Nathan Lyon back home. Given his rich experience of first-class cricket, he can only talk about what the Indian spinners can throw at them in the ODIs.

In recent times, there has been talk of the Indian think-tank preparing for the ICC World Cup in 2019. Ravi Shastri has mentioned with two years to go, there will be a good chance to look at the options available and how MS Dhoni remains an integral part of the plans.

It’s in the area of spin bowling, Virat Kohli has shown a penchant for wrist spinners. If you had heard him speak at the press conference after India demolished Sri Lanka, he reposed huge faith in wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

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Kohli believes wrist spinners provide a great deal of surprise element and are very reliable. You can read this statement on face value and also interpret it as lack of faith in off-spin. Perhaps, that’s why R Ashwin, who turned 31 recently, does not seem to find favour with the selectors for the ODI format.

The initial line from selection committee chairman MSK Prasad was that Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had been rested. If that be the case, Ashwin should not have been playing county cricket and Jadeja would not have been called in as a replacement for injured Axar Patel at the 11th hour!

To be sure, the focus will be on spin from India’s point of view and how the two wrist spinners, Chahal and Kuldeep fire will be seen with interest. The two are young, extremely motivated and have the backing of the Indian think-tank.

Steve Smith has talked about wanting to win the series and former Australian skipper Michael Clarke has predicted a 3-2 verdict for his side. All this sounds good to the ears but what transpires on pitches at home – bald and beautiful – will be fascinating to watch. To think that flat tracks don’t assist bowlers is not necessarily true as the Indian wrist spinners have plenty of guile.

At the top, with Shikhar Dhawan opting for a three match break due to family reasons, it has given Ajinkya Rahane another chance. Despite having been the stand-in captain for a few away tours two years ago, nobody seems to have faith in Rahane in the ODI format.

He is certainly not a batsman who lights up proceedings with flashy strokeplay or executes shots which in modern day ODI cricket are accepted as good to watch. Rohit Sharma is expected to be assigned the aggressive role at the top and in the middle could be playing in a mould similar to that of good old Rahul Dravid.

The Aussies have been coming often to the sub-continent. They have experience of playing in the Indian Premier League, so David Warner, Smith and Glenn Maxwell will be expected to bat well on these kind of tracks.

Not having done well in Bangladesh, the Aussies will be eager to show they have the heart to fight it in India. Certainly, they need to be at their best to compete against inspirational skipper Virat Kohli’s boys.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read: Why India must treat the Rohingyas with magnanimity

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S Kannan S Kannan @kannandelhi

Sports columnist.

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