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England in India: MS Dhoni in a dilemma over pace combination

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 - 10:00am IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: dna

The India captain will have to choose between a new ball partner for Zaheer Khan and a third spinner.

When all eyes are on the Indian spinners who are expected to wreak havoc on the English batting line-up in the upcoming Test series, it will be interesting to see the pace combination the home team adopts.

Like his English counterpart Alastair Cook, Indian skipper MS Dhoni will also be on the drawing board working out his combination. With India’s spearhead Zaheer Khan not at his best in terms of fitness and form, it will be a Herculean task for Dhoni to select Khan’s new ball partner.

Even though Vidarbha’s Umesh Yadav has delivered, he has been inconsistent while Ishant Sharma will be making a comeback after a knee injury.

In the series against New Zealand, the 34-year-old Khan struggled to be his usual self with the yorkers and deadly inswingers missing from his arsenal.

In fact, the Mumbai speedster was able to grab only three wickets in the two-match series in August-September.

Naturally, Dhoni’s hands are full. Like Sharma, Yadav burst on the scene with lot of promise. His ability to bowl in excess of 140kph was his main weapon. The Vidarbha bowler also had an effective bouncer in his arsenal.

However, Yadav hasn’t exactly been able to deliver the goods. He has been far from being consistent. Dhoni will be hoping Yadav comes up with something special as he did for his state team Vidarbha against Haryana recently. At Rohtak, Yadav scalped seven wickets, including a fifer, and was instrumental in his team’s win.

On the other hand, Sharma too is making a comeback. It won’t be easy for the Delhi seamer. Sharma did have a good outing in the Challenger Trophy at Rajkot last month, but it has been ten months since he last played for the country when he appeared against Australia in January 2012.

If the quickies don’t fire, it will add extra burden on the spinners, already facing tremendous pressure. In such a scenario, Harbhajan, Ashwin and Ojha who are expected to make life difficult for England batsmen, will not only have to take 20 wickets, they will also be expected to contain the run flow.

Harbhajan is also making a comeback. Rest assured though, if Motera looks red, Dhoni won’t hesitate in giving a green signal to playing three spinners to torment the Englishmen.

For the record, the first thing Dhoni did after entering the ground for a light practice on Monday was to inspect pitch. He and coach Duncan Fletcher spent a good 15 minutes before heading for practice.

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