A familiar-looking face splashed on the giant screen for a moment and caught everyone by surprise. It was Monty Pansear, the left-arm English spinner, watching the Indian batsmen clobber his teammates. Why would England want to leave the only genuine spinner out of the side, especially on their tour of India?
"The Indian batsmen anyway show little respect to spinners," said the England skipper Kevin Pietersen the other day, bringing forth the dilemma the visiting teams face while picking spinners for India, and, in a way, the irony of the situation.
India, given the conditions and wickets, is perhaps the place where every spinner would like to bowl, but then the Indian batsmen, brought up on the staple diet of spin, aren't at all daunted by the craft.
But is that a reason good enough to visit India without a quality spinner? Or more directly, can any visiting team expect to win in India without quality spinners in their side?
"Absolutely not, how can one even think of surviving without a spinner in the sub-continent. If a visiting team wants to give itself a realistic chance of succeeding here, it needs a top line spinner, capable of bowling wicket-taking spell, not someone who can just restrict the flow of runs," said Bishen Bedi, a master of the craft.
But what of the deep-rooted opinion that spinners, as Pietersen pointed out, would in any case be butchered in India?
"I don't subscribe to that view. Yes, Indian batsmen are better players of spin, but then a good spinner remains good everywhere, irrespective of the conditions. Haven't we seen Jason Krejza bowling the daylights out of the Indian batsmen in Nagpur Test. How do we explain that," Bedi asked.
Moreover, even if the touring teams fail to use their spinners as an out and out attacking option, their presence would at least act as a deterrent for the hosts to roll out a square turner. For instance, had South Africa got a better spinner than Paul Harris in their ranks, the wicket for the Kanpur Test earlier this year — a match that India needed to win to level the series — wouldn't have been as spin-friendly. In case the pitch was, a quality spinner in the visiting side could have taken as much advantage of it as did the Indian spinners, and the result could have been different. So the sides would be better off with a quality spinner rather than without it, even if Indian batsmen are the best players of spin.