India v Australia: Will India Go With 3 Spinners At Pune In The First Test?
The first couple of question that cropped up in the mind of Aussie fans when their team departed for the Tour of India was pretty much an obvious one. Can Australia’s batsmen turn their fortunes on spinning pitches? How will Australia’s batsmen combat the dual threats of Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja?
Consider this fact, the men coming here to play have a highly improved record against team teams like South Africa, England and New Zealand but they still continue to struggle against nations that are typically spin bowling powers.
Consider some more facts. India is currently in middle of a wonderful streak – having not lost a single Test since August 2015 which combines to 19 consecutive Tests wins with the last defeat coming at the hands of by Sri Lanka in Galle.
Australia, on the other hand, has lost their past nine Tests in Asia including humiliating beating at the hands of Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera. Australia clearly was made to look like an uncomfortable pack of cricketer when Herath spun them out of the contest single-handedly.
The batting order brings smile and uneasiness in equal amount. The top order has David Warner, Steve Smith along with Shaun Marsh and Matt Renshaw. Warner and Smith have a reputation of being good players of spin while Marsh and Renshaw clearly look like an experiment who seem like hit or miss bet. The middle order isn’t that promising and is fragile.
The major threat which the Aussies would face needs no introduction. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are quite remarkable in India. Quite needless to say that they have been, at times, unplayable. Last time India hosted Australia in 2013, Ashwin and Jadeja ended up combined for a remarkable tally of 53 wickets.
If Australia learnt from the notes that were made after their Sri Lanka tour, they might perhaps spring a surprise.
It is quite understandable that they will have to encounter spin on turnings wicket or say ‘diabolical’ wickets when they begin their sojourn. The shirts will get dirty and they will be left to survive days of Test cricket just stretching out at the crease, trying to reach to the pitch of the ball and defend the loopy deliveries without popping a catch at the hands of the short leg or silly point.
Ashwin is having a joy ride and recently as he became the fastest to reach 250 wickets in Test history. Jadeja has been equally lethal with his left-arm spin. The pair will top the wicket tally one more time. The MCA Ground at Pune, which is set to become the 25th Test venue in India, has clearly appeared spinner friendly making many believe the inclusion of third spinner Jayant Yadav. This selection is obviously automatic given his antics against England in India’s last Test series.
There seems no reason why India shouldn’t pick three spinners in the opening Test. The conditions are completely favourable to this decision.
But, everything cannot be in the home’s side’s favour, right?
While Ashwin and Jadeja look invincible both have struggled on a handful of occasion during the series against New Zealand and England. When the opposition rose from the grave and their tail enders began showing up a fight. Take Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow’s case from the freshest memory. The duo simply looked helpless and bowled through their overs like mere formalities. The ball really had to get old before either one of them found a breakthrough.
Jayant Yadav, the Haryanavi off-spinner, was extraordinary in the shadows of Ashwin. But, Australians are meaner than Englishmen and would certainly target the rookie and milk him for as many runs as possible if the opportunity arises. While a number are good and past performances have been highly impressive. Rising chinaman Kuldeep Yadav is another spinner who brings a lot to the table. But inexperience might ruin his start if he commits the blunders of getting carried away by the grip and spin the Nagpur Track promises to offer.
Australia brings in their own set of challenges for Indian spinners. Smith and Warner would be highly determined to bring in a turnaround. Shaun Marsh has been brought in for his reputation against spin. Solid knocks from these men would push the Indians to the corner.
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