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Anil Kumble - Insight Edge

Is Anil Kumble’s suggestion to MS Dhoni if tracks help spin bowling

Sunday, October 25, 2021
‘Play two spinners’

Cricket does not stop for anyone, at least in India it doesn’t. We are barely through the Champions League T20 and the ODI series against the Australians is upon us. These schedules though are something the modern cricketer is used to. What shouldn’t be thrust on them is a seven-match bilateral series.

I am of the firm belief that a series between two teams should be restricted to five matches. A 5-match series is good enough to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of either side and for a winner to emerge thereof, so I don’t see the point of stretching matters.

The Australians, for their part, are coming off just that, a 7-match series against England, as also a successful Champions Trophy campaign. They are thus the team to beat if your own team’s superiority is to be proved.

The return of Brett Lee – what a show he put in on the CL T20 final in Hyderabad – only adds to their firepower. Many of their players are well used to Indian conditions now and the presence of people like Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh, both of whom thrived in the first season of the IPL, should make up for the initial absence of Michael Clarke. Watson, we must remember, is coming off back-to-back tons in the business end of the Champions Trophy. Of course, there is always their skipper Ricky Ponting, who has been their key for a while now and continues to be so.

As far as the Indian team is concerned, the return of Virender Sehwag is the best news possible. But the concern here is that he’s back from a shoulder injury, where the order of recovery is always batting first, bowling next and finally being able to throw the ball while fielding.

Sehwag showed in the CL T20 that he had no problems while batting but since he hardly bowled in the tournament, I am not sure if he is bowling fit as yet, which also means questions about his throwing arm.

The thing is that ODIs in India are usually played on totally batting friendly tracks, which makes it imperative for someone like Sehwag to be able to contribute with the ball too. Just the normal four-five bowlers won’t do as the need is to mix things up on these tracks. Hopefully, Sehwag, as also Yuvaj Singh, as and when he is fit to play, will be able to do his bit with the ball.

The return of Munaf Patel should lend stability to the Indian pace attack but much will depend on the spinners Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra. How their 15-20 overs go, can well decide the fate of the match. I know captains, thanks to the bowling and batting powerplays, prefer to go in with just one spinner, but should the pitch at any venue look like offering any sort of assistance to the spinners, I would advocate playing with two frontline ones.

While their own spinners are the key, the Indians must also capitalize on Australia’s one weakness, their spinners. Their young left-arm spinner Jon Holland did look good in the CL T20 while Nathan Hauritz has gained in experience by bowling a lot of overs in the Champions Trophy as also for New South Wales in the CL T20. Still these are the two that should be targeted.

Who knows maybe the Virat Kohlis and Suresh Rainas will be the ones to take the attack to the Australians. Young Kohli has been in great touch and this is a great chance for him to perform and seal his spot in the team.

Come to think of it, given that the batting strengths of either team is a given, success will probably go to whoever bowls and fields better. Here the Aussies hold an edge but if the Indians can match them there, the fight will be on, as it usually is in Indo-Aus clashes.