It’s unusual to see an off-spinner bowling around the wicket to a right-handed batsman, pitching it outside leg and still forcing him to pad the ball away because otherwise he will be bowled. By some gift of nature and his own hard work, R Ashwin can do that.
That Ashwin is far from being a certainty in the 11 is an indicator of the kind of bowling strength India have. True it’s a batsman’s game and the Indian team is loaded with some of the best in the game, but bowlers are needed to keep the opponent’s total within manageable limits. On that front, MS Dhoni’s team appears to have a healthy mix of pace and spin.
“If Zaheer Khan is fit and Ashish Nehra manages to play most of the games, then India will have one of their best attacks going into any World Cup,” former fast bowler Javagal Srinath told HT.
“And in spin, it’s not just about the specialists or variety. There are quite a few batsmen who can chip in with three or four overs,” said the spearhead of India’s 2003 World Cup attack.
Variety in pace and spin makes the attack look so potent. In Zaheer, India have a bowler who can make the ball move in the air, off the surface and of late, he has also bowled the yorker with good effect.
Nehra and Sreesanth, on their days, can make the new ball talk too. To back them, there is Munaf Patel, whose wicket-to-wicket line makes him an utility man.
The real sting, however, is expected from the spinners.
Harbhajan Singh leads this department and he understands these conditions probably more than anyone in this World Cup.
And going by what was seen in the warm-up games, Harbhajan has more than good support in Ashwin and Piyush Chawla. Yuvraj Singh’s role has already been widely talked about.
Dhoni has a problem of choosing the bowlers. But he shouldn’t mind that because it is a problem of plenty.