If you can’t keep the opposition under control with pace, get the spinners in early. If the spinners fail to turn the ball, persist with them because the lack of pace on the ball might still do the job.
Using Wednesday’s match against the Netherlands as a platform to experiment, Mahendra
Singh Dhoni came out with an evident plan of trying out his spinners at the beginning of the innings, giving them as many as 11 of the first 15 overs when the field restrictions were on.
Yusuf Pathan in the fourth over, Harbhajan Singh in the seventh and Piyush Chawla in 12th - the skipper paraded his slow bowlers early in the day. It was spin from both ends from the seventh over and this continued till the 30th, when Ashish Nehra got to bowl his second over in his comeback match.
In terms of containment, the slower bowlers were effective. They didn’t allow the Netherlands to strengthen their position from 56 without loss after 15 overs and conceded just 44 in the next 15 to strangle their progress.
In terms of damage though, they left a lot to be desired. The Dutch by no stretch of imagination are better players of spin. That the spinners together bowled 35 overs and took just four wickets is something that might bother Dhoni.
If Wednesday was an indication, India are expected to use more of spin in the initial overs against other teams as well. Just containment might not work again because the tougher teams are awaiting India now.