India's last league game against the West Indies in Chennai on Sunday, their most important match so far, would be the perfect place to pull something different and open with a spinner.
Given the nature of the Chennai wicket, low and slow and with something in it for the bowlers, it would
be a good ploy to open against someone like Chris Gayle with an offie like Yusuf or Ashwin, with Zaheer at the other end.
In fact, I think Ashwin should definitely play, both given how the pitch has behaved and, given his advantage of being a local. India should ideally go with a 2-2 combine here and my pick would be Zaheer, Munaf, Harbhajan and Ashwin.
This whole event is really going to come down to how the bowlers do and it's high time they started winning matches. It's not enough to expect the batsmen to put enough on board to put it beyond the opposition.
As things stand, given the efficacy (or lack of) of the Indian bowling, and the perennial problems in fielding, which now seem to have just been accepted as being below par, a "beyond the opposition" score is always dicey. And then you might have days like against South Africa, where even the best of starts doesn't necessarily guarantee even a half decent finish. The West Indies, with players like Gayle and Pollard, can never be underestimated. So the bowlers have to raise the bar.
Although there has been a lot of talk about the need for changes in the batting department, I'm not for it at all. Look at South Africa, JP Duminy's, not really been among the runs, but he got them out of a spot of bother and took them to a respectable score. Yusuf Pathan's much like that and has won games for India in the recent past. We have a problem of short memories here in India.
India have had a decent enough break to iron out any issues, probably more mental than physical.
From here on though, there aren't too many rest days, so they just have to be completely focused on winning well. While they, unfortunately, have lost the opportunity to control who they will play in the quarterfinals, India can make a statement with this game. Irrespective of whether they need to win or not to qualify, it's always nice to go into the quarters with a victory behind you and if it's a sublime win, so much the better.