Apart from keeping things open in Group 'B', England also had a lesson for India with the win over the West Indies here on Thursday. The home favourites have so far been rigid in their preference of spinners, choosing leg-spinner Piyush Chawla over R Ashwin as company for off-spinner Harbhajan
In a bold statement of intent and strategy, England veered from the beaten path by using James Tredwell with fellow off-spinner Graeme Swann against the mercurial West Indians, who lost seven of their 10 wickets to the spin duo. The off-spinners conceded 84 runs in the 20 overs they shared.
This strengthens Ashwin's case, who has been warming the bench so far, despite possessing more variety and control than the erratic Chawla. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has backed the leggie in the last few weeks but the time has come to let Ashwin have a go.
India's immediate goal, which is to beat the West Indies on Sunday and secure a high-enough spot in the group standings, Ashwin's inclusion in the XI looks logical.
Batting on a surface, which is not ideal for batsmen, the Caribbeans played the spinners from the crease, which was inviting peril and predictably, they succumbed.
The England spinners didn't lose heart after being hit for the odd six and bowled straight and full to exploit the technical inadequacies of their opponents.
Precedent for Dhoni
Another reason why India must consider pairing Ashwin with Harbhajan is the number of left-handers in the West Indian side. The two off-spinners will move the ball away from the left-handers and minimise the possibility of the batsmen hitting them with the turn. Unless a Chris Gayle gets going, the West Indians appear to be easy meat for the India spinners.
Then comes the question of fielding two of a kind in the match. Why have another off-spinner when Yusuf Pathan is there to deliver the stuff for a few overs, Dhoni had argued in the past.
What he overlooked was it's not a question of having two off-spinners, but using two of the better spinners even if they ply the same trade.
If the India captain wants evidence of such a combination coming good, especially against a team like the West Indies, Swann and Tredwell have provided him with that. It’s time the skipper took the hint.
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