It’s interesting how quickly equations change. Before Sunday, India were struggling to put the name of four bowlers on their team list. Now, they don't know whom to drop.
Ahead of their Super Eights battles, skipper MS Dhoni’s dilemma is to fit in his men, especially in the spin department. Till now, the team had been happy with a combination of three pacers and one specialist spinner, but after the showing against England, spin has emerged as his main weapon.
The duo of Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla roared into contention by claiming with six wickets between them while R Ashwin was rested.
The big call now is whether to revert to a double off-spin attack like they successfully did in a few games at the 2011 World Cup at home?
The roles will be reversed, though. Then, Harbhajan was the spearhead and Ashwin was in and out of the side, depending on the opposition. Now, Harbhajan, on a comeback, will have to adjust to playing some and missing some as Ashwin, in the middle of a dream run, remains the first choice.
Sri Lanka’s spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan dubbed it ‘advantage India’. “All the bowlers are doing well for India, at the right time, making it a balanced attack. The advantage is with India,” he told HT on Tuesday.
The man with 800 Test wickets said: “The combination will depend on the team you are playing but in Sri Lanka, spin will always play a big role. We have wickets which have something in it for the pacers too but are always loaded in favour of spinners. Here, they’ll get drier and I will say it will be 60-40 for spinners.
“Ashwin is bowling well for one-and-half years now. And I’ve always been impressed with Harbhajan, he’s a proven performer and has the experience of doing well on the big stage. He showed that against England. They can form a good pair.”
Harbhajan has been the talk of the town since his match-winning spell against England in his first international game for more than a year. “For me, Harbhajan didn't do anything differently. It is a confidence thing, and after getting wickets against England, the confidence will be back in him. The team will believe in him more and that can make you a different bowler,” said Murali.
The wickets in Sri Lanka are playing truer than in the past, raising hopes of pace-heavy teams like England, South Africa and Australia, but Muralitharan picked the subcontinent teams as favourites. “In T20 format anything can happen but my money will be on subcontinent teams because of their spin strength.”