England may have been the top-ranked side till recently, but playing spin is an art they are yet to master. And if they hoped to get a grip on playing the turning ball before the Test series, India have decided to deny them the opportunity.
The newly-formed selection committee, chaired by Sandeep Patil, which met here on Wednesday, did not include a spinner in the 14-man India 'A' squad to take on the visitors at the Brabourne Stadium between October 30 and November 1.
However, the game will see the return of Yuvraj Singh against an international side in the longer version of the game.
When India toured England in the summer of 2011, green tracks and England's pace bowlers, who knew how to extract the best out of the conditions, left the visitors in shambles. India returned home without a victory in the Tests or ODIs.
The spinning options in the country may be thinning, but are far from over. The experienced Harbhajan Singh or Akshay Darekar and Rahul Sharma, both of whom have been with the 'A' side, could have been included.
But the humiliation suffered in England is still fresh. And the exclusion of a slow bowler in the ‘A’ team shows a conscious attempt of the India camp to make it tougher for the tourists to acclimatise to the kind of attack that awaits them.
The coach of the ‘A’ side, Lalchand Rajput, believes that it is a well-thought out tactic. “We are a strong team. And if we don't have spinners, it's a good idea to not let them play spinners before the Tests,” he told HT.
Former India slow left-arm spinner Venkatapathy Raju insisted that this is the right way to welcome the English. “They will have bowlers bowling at them. It is not that no one is there to bowl at them. Why expose them to our strength before the series?” he said.
The reactions in England were on expected lines. Former England player David Lloyd expressed shock at the selection on Twitter. “No spinner in India A team vs England....totally lacking in class and style decision,” he tweeted.
The game will also generate interest due to the presence of Yuvraj. The left-handed batsman had scored a double century for North Zone against Central in the Duleep Trophy semifinal, on his return to first-class cricket after overcoming a germ cell cancer.
Number six slot
A decent outing against the English could help him book the number six spot that got vacated with VVS Laxman's retirement in August.
“It is a perfect opportunity for Yuvraj to continue with his wonderful comeback. It is another step for him towards the return to Test cricket,” said Rajput.
Rohit Sharma continues to not feature in the country's plans in the longer format of the game. After not making it to the playing eleven in the Tests in Australia, he was dropped for the Tests against New Zealand.
His exclusion from the 'A' team would mean that, hard work in the upcoming Ranji season is the way forward for the Mumbai batsman.