Mahendra Singh Dhoni's great gamble
India skipper's decision to field only one seamer comes under scrutiny
Though Test debutant Ravindra Jadeja reckoned that opting for four spinners would prove to be a good decision in the end, former India medium pacer Balvinder Singh Sandhu felt that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has taken a ‘huge risk’ in the final Test against England.
Underfire Dhoni surprised all by opting for three specialist spinners — Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin and Piyush Chawla — and a slow left-arm spinner in Jadeja, who is drafted in as a part-timer on a flat and slow wicket at the VCA Stadium, Nagpur yesterday.
Lone pacer in the team Ishant Sharma looked to be the most impressive in the bowling unit, dismissing in-form England openers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton early on Day One of fourth Test. The lanky pacer finished the day with 19-7-32-2.
Dhoni’s unusual strategy came as a shocker considering that Jamtha is India’s last chance to square the series and stop England from creating history of winning a Test series in India after nearly 30 years.
“It’s a huge risk that the Indian think-tank has taken, but I am sure it would be a well calculated one. Looking at how the pitch has behaved on Day One, it is clear that it won’t improve. In fact, it will further deteriorate as the match progresses. We could see Ishant getting some help from the track. It would have been good if India had opted for two seamers and three spinners,” Sandhu told MiD DAY yesterday.
The 1983 World Cupper believed that pacers would be more effective than spinners. “The ball is keeping low. We could see it was not easy to play Ishant as compared to the spinners. It would be dangerous to play across the line to pacers. So, the batsmen have to play in the ‘V’ (to mid on and mid off),” said Sandhu. According to Sandhu, Parvinder Awana, who was drafted in the squad for the last Test, should have been picked in the playing XI.
Former chairman of selectors, Kiran More disapproved of Dhoni’s decision of playing four spinners. “This is a do-or-die match for India. They are doing everything to win this Test. But, we should have gone in with three spinners and one pacer,” said More, who was India’s wicketkeeper when India whitewashed England 3-0 in 1992-93.
Sandhu said it is a big test for Chawla, who is making a comeback to Test cricket after the 2008 Kanpur Test against South Africa. “This match will test his character. It will test his temperament. I have seen him panic when batsmen attack him. I hope he has worked on this aspect and handles the pressure well,” said Sandhu.
(Inputs from Rohan Koli)