Giving the game an odd spin

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 23, 2013 23:39 IST

The last time India played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, they scored 387 for four on the final day to beat England. After watching the first two days in the first Test against Australia, all thoughts of witnessing such a memorable chase have evaporated.

The reason: The Test against England was played on a typical Chennai wicket, perfect for batting on the first three days and then the spinners come into play. It is learnt, the groundsmen were directed to prepare a low, slow wicket to help the India spinners and negate Australia's pace arsenal. And the instructions seem to have been carried out well. R Ashwin wreaked havoc on Friday.

It's a kind of surface where the batsman never feels he's in as seen in the dismissal of Cheteshwar Pujara. He hardly played a false stroke before getting bowled off Pattinson.

"The ball that bowled Pujara kept low. If you bang the wicket and put some pace behind it, you can get some variable bounce."

"There's a little bit of reverse swing as well. The ball's quite soft which doesn't help. We're still 200 in front, so two wickets early tomorrow will be the key," the pacer said.

That Australia managed to reach 380 is a tribute to Michael Clarke and Moises Henriques.

Local boy Ashwin said: "The pitch looked very dirty, to be very honest. After the first 5-10 overs, it looked dirty and we thought it was going to spin like a top. But it actually didn't spin at all. There were a few balls when you tossed it up and they jumped a little bit. It's been slow," said Ashwin.

The Test is delicately balanced and could go either way. The first session on the third day will be crucial.

If Australia can prise out two quick wickets, the fear is that the Indian cricket board's spin plan may backfire again.


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