Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Wednesday spinners would play a key role in India’s four-match Test series in the West Indies despite the Caribbean’s reputation as a paceman’s paradise.
Though Dhoni remains limited-overs skipper, the Test side will be led by star batsman Virat Kohli, who will be able to call on the services of two of the world’s leading spinners -- Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Speaking to reporters in New Delhi on the eve of the first Test in Antigua, Dhoni said the same pitches where fast bowlers such as Curtly Ambrose and Michael Holding once wreaked havoc were now much conducive to slow bowling.
“What we have seen over the years is that the West Indian wickets have slowed down... which means the spinners will have a major role in the series,” Dhoni told reporters.
The likes of Ashwin have thrived in recent Test cricket but India has struggled to produce a top fast bowler for some years. Their current attack spearhead Mohammed Shami is only just returning after a lengthy injury lay-off.
But Dhoni insisted India had a fine pool of talent to call on in the Caribbean, where Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are also likely to play a key role.
“Good thing about Indian bowling right now is that they have a good pool of eight to 10 quick bowlers who were all pushing for selection for the West Indies tour squad.”
“So that gives management the liberty of picking the best bowlers and whatever is needed in that scenario,” the 35-year-old said.
India had bowlers with all areas covered. “If you want pace we have that. If you want swing, we have that. Of course, we have to be careful about injury management,” the former Test skipper said.
Indian batting stars like Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay have also shown glimpses of what they are capable of in the two practice games -- with Dhoni certainly impressed.
“And not to forget the Indian line-up. They have a set of six batters who have played Test cricket for quite some time now,” said the wicketkeeper-batsman, who led India to a 1-0 win when the team last toured the Caribbean in 2011.
“If you see the middle part of the batting, it looks very good and they have good experience of playing outside India, so I think it will be a very good series for the Indian set up,” he added.
Dhoni admitted he missed the most challenging format of the game but didn’t regret his decision to quit Tests.
“As far as missing Test cricket is concerned, of course I miss it… I think it was the right decision taken at the right time. It gives me time to think about everything, spend some time with the family and may be get a bit perfect,” Dhoni said.
He stepped down as Test skipper in December 2014 after leading the side to a record 27 victories. He was succeeded by Kohli, who led the team in the New Year’s Test against Australia in Sydney.