Ashley Mallett, the former Australia off-spinner, who claimed 28 Test wickets on his 1969-70 tour to India, believes India will be a stronger force with Virat Kohli in charge of the Test outfit.
"Kohli is a good combatant, a terrific player and I feel the side will be better off with MS Dhoni not Test captain anymore," Mallett (69) told mid-day from Adelaide yesterday.
"I just think Dhoni seemed to forget about field placings, the field placements in Melbourne were dreadful and he seemed to just go through the motions. He didn't try to make things happen and has never really done that.
If things happened it's because the spinners were bowling well on a wicket that was doing a bit — like what happens in India. I think India is going to be a pretty good side. They have some good young players."
Mallett was astonished not to see off-spinner R Ashwin in the playing XI for the opening Test of the series at Adelaide.
"Traditionally, Australia have been worried by off-spin and Ashwin is a handy batsman too. Australia would have got only around 300 had Ashwin been in the side (they scored 517-7 decl in the first innings). Mind you, (Erapalli) Prasanna would have bowled them out for 80," said Mallett.
Virat Kohli. Pic/Getty Images
India played leg-spinner Karn Sharma instead at Adelaide and he didn't have a memorable Test debut (match figures of 4 for 238).
"The leggie bowled reasonably well although he conceded a lot of runs. You should be playing him as a second spinner — as an understudy to Ashwin.
I don't know what's the state of spin bowling in India, but they must have some better spinners back home," said Mallett, who has coached spinners in Sri Lanka a few years ago and worked with mystery spinner Ajanta Mendis.
"Karn Sharma is a good young bowler, but he is nowhere near ready to play Test cricket. I would like to see India playing two spinners and you need Ashwin's solidity in the bottom order because India's tail is hopeless."
Spin great Prasanna featured in the conversation again: "He's the best off-spinner I've seen by a mile. When he got conditions that were favourable, like Nathan Lyon got at Adelaide, he was unbelievable."