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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014
Haggard bunch now turns up very smartly
Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times
Hyderabad, March 05, 2013
First Published: 23:00 IST(5/3/2013)
Last Updated: 23:03 IST(5/3/2013)
Ravindra Jadeja appeals against Maxwel of Australia on the fourth day of 2nd Test Match at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad. HT Photo

The last time Cheteshwar Pujara hit a century, India should have won too. It came in the second Test against England at the Wankhede Stadium.

He helped the team reach 327 in the first innings, and on that square turner, it should have been a winning total.

But Kevin Pietersen came out and smashed the Indian attack to pulp and Alastair Cook eased to a classy hundred. The duo turned the series on its head and the visitors went home victorious. All blame lay on the Indian bowlers, especially spinners.

Off-break bowlers, R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh, came under heavy fire. Come the new series, and at the end of the second Test, the bowlers have salvaged some pride.

Ashwin is back among wickets and Harbhajan is providing decent support while the new addition, Ravindra Jadeja, has increasingly looked the part.

India's spin attack is functioning like a well-oiled machine and it can be said they have exorcised their ghosts of the England series.

Fitting well
The Australian batsmen's vulnerability against off-spin is well documented and Ashwin claimed his third five-wicket haul in four innings on Tuesday to condemn Michael Clarke's team to another embarrassing defeat.

The Tamil Nadu player now has 18 wickets in two games. There was a big debate before this game whether left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha should be recalled in place of Jadeja or Harbhajan.

Jadeja, however, has settled the debate for now with a fine showing in both innings for a match haul of six.

He extracted sharp spin on the first day and was almost unplayable on the fourth morning.

While Ashwin bagged five, it was the diminutive bowler who delivered the psychological blow by claiming the big wicket of Michael Clarke, bowled in both innings.

Jadeja is the kind of bowler who fits in perfectly with Dhoni's style of captaincy, which is to keep things tight and build pressure.

He gave nothing away and showed he has the knack of exploiting helpful pitch conditions.

Getting better
Harbhajan's wicket column has only the two scalps he took in the first innings. However, he is forming a good partnership with Ashwin and Jadeja, helping to build pressure.

Dhoni said: “What's important is to realise how he has been performing since his comeback. Let's not forget, once the big players are left out and come back trying to cement their place, the pressure on them is much more compared to a new guy who has come in and is trying to cement his place. In the last three Tests he has played, he has shown improvement.”

“He played against England and people weren't happy. I could also not give him the amount of overs I would have liked to. That's the case with three spinners.

"Often one of them will be slightly under-utilised. And then the 100th Test match came and that pressure was always there on him. What's important is how he has overcome that.

"I felt he bowled well in the second innings in Chennai and over here he has shown improvement. He is bowling in one area which is very important. Of course, you will have one lead spinner, but when it comes to the second spinner you may have to choose something like horses for courses.

"The idea is with Australia having lots of left-handers, having two off-spinners helps.”


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