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Downward spiral for India spinners in South Africa

india Updated: Dec 15, 2013 00:07 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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The man who got the Man-of-the-Match award in the last Test India played, in Mumbai last month, may not even make it to the playing XI. That is what playing abroad on fast and bouncy tracks does to the spinners.

However, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha is still optimistic. He says, "I've played a lot of cricket in the subcontinent. One of my aims is to play outside the subcontinent and win games for my team."

It is, however, unlikely that India will risk picking him on a pacy track at the Wanderers.

While a lot of focus has been on India's pace attack, spin will also have to play a role in support. With the fast bowlers and medium pacers not inspiring confidence, they have to be prepared to perform different roles, be it doing a containing job or taking wickets.

If you believe the experts, Indian spinners will not do well on these surfaces.

"The Indian spin attack will struggle because they don't have a wrist spinner. Only wrist spinners can succeed on South African tracks," says Manoj Prabhakar, who witnessed leggie Anil Kumble become the most successful India bowler on the 1992 tour.

Rare success
South Africans too remember Kumble, who took 20 wickets on India's first tour here in 1992 while Shane Warne has troubled their top-order enough.

When leggie Amit Mishra boarded the flight back to Delhi, it showed that either India lacks horses for courses or that Mishra doesn't have the captain's confidence in the longer format. Mishra has any way been a silent passenger even in ODIs, travelling but not getting any match.

That makes R Ashwin the leading spinner, and thanks to his batting exploits, a certainty in the line-up.

Ghost of Australia
Ashwin, who had a torrid time when India toured Australia in 2011/12 as he struggled with his line, says he has learnt his lessons and has become more experienced.

The ODIs he says have set him up even though he managed just one wicket in the three games; the performance showed the kind of tracks South Africa are likely to dish out in Tests too.

It also means the spinners' role could be one-dimensional and restrictive. Ashwin guesses that when he says, "We need to be really accurate on these wickets as the margin for error is less."

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