Skipper MS Dhoni’s public outburst against the Motera pitch after the first Test against England may be of no use if he is not keen on playing three spinners. Dhoni on Thursday ruled out having three spinners in the second Test starting at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, today, citing ‘team balance’ as the reason. “We are looking at a 2-2 combination. Also, you don’t know whether you would bat or bowl first,” he said.
His explanation defies logic especially since fast bowler Umesh Yadav who is nursing a sore back has been ruled out of the Test. In such a scenario, one would expect India to go for the kill by playing three spinners, all different in style, who would provide variety and capitalise on England’s weakness against spin. Besides, Dhoni himself showed great faith in his spinners by asking R Ashwin to open the bowling in the first innings of the first Test and Pragyan Ojha in the second. Zaheer Khan and Yadav between them bowled just 22 of the 74.2 overs in the first innings.
“Harbhajan Singh will have to wait for his chance as Ashwin and Ojha are bowling well,” Dhoni said. Ashwin picked up just one wicket (No 10 Graeme Swann) in 43 overs and conceded over 100 runs in the second innings of the Ahmedabad Test. Ojha had a great Test match picking up nine wickets, but should he or Ashwin have a poor match at Wankhede, India could be in trouble. The Wankhede wicket is expected to turn and have a lot of bounce and therefore, provides the perfect opportunity for India to have the English dancing to their tune.
India’s batting looks good with Virender Sehwag, who is playing his 100th Test, coming back to form with a century in Ahmedabad. Cheteshwar Pujara has been solid at No 3 with a double century in the last Test. The focus though is on Sachin Tendulkar who in all likelihood could be playing his last Test on his home ground. He has been short of runs at the international level for a long time. This could be the time to make amends. The ticket sales have been robust primarily due to him. The stage is set. Can he deliver? Over to Wankhede!