No tweak in plan for India at Sydney Cricket Ground?
India will be tempted to play two spinners, but given the recent history, it makes sense to persist with the speedsters
Everytime a Sydney Test draws near, there is talk of playing two spinners. A lot of that theory is based on the Sydney pitch that used to turn square in the mid 80s and in the 90s. Move forward a couple of decades and the green tinge that appears on the pitch still seems like a mirage for both teams as they contemplate the option of playing two spinners.
There are three spinners in the 13 man squad that India named on the eve of the match - Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin. Reality is that India will only play one of them, but Australia too have taken history in their stride by including Marnus Labuschagne as a back-up spinner to Nathan Lyon.
However, it is worth noting that the Sydney Cricket Ground has been a somewhat of graveyard for spinners in recent times. In the last decade, spinners have averaged 51.63, the highest for any ground in Australia. It is also a place that Lyon has generally struggled. Lyon has taken 22 wickets here at 48.13 with a strike rate of 92.9. He is yet to take a five-wicket haul at his home venue and in his two Tests against India, he has only managed five wickets at 64.40. The last time an international spinner took a five-wicket haul at the SCG was in 2010 when Danish Kaneria claimed 5-151. Based on all the recent statistics it seems peculiar if both teams believe you need to, 'spin it to win it' at SCG.
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India will also know the nature of the pitch having played a practice match at this venue five weeks ago. During that match, Ashwin struggled to have a significant impact as the slow nature of the pitch allowed the batsmen to play him almost effortlessly. The pitch may not deviate too much and spinners will only get assistance from the footmarks created by the fast bowlers.
It is also worth noting that despite temperature soaring into the 40s for five consecutive days during last year's Test against England, the pitch failed to break up and it was the fast bowlers that scripted victory for the Australians. India will be tempted to play two spinners, but given the recent history it makes more sense to persist with the quicks that have produced the goods throughout the series.
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