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Spin or swing, that’s the question

Rahul Dravid announced the India twelve a day before the start of the 2nd Test against Bangladesh. Yuvraj Singh and VVS Laxman remain out, reports Akshay Sawai.

india Updated: May 25, 2007 09:01 IST

You can't see them, you can feel them. They flutter about inside you, before the big game. As you ready for battle and pray for luck, learn to handle the butterflies in the stomach.

Rahul Dravid announced the India twelve on Thursday morning, a day before the start of the second Test against Bangladesh. Yuvraj Singh and VVS Laxman remain out. Fast bowler VRV Singh will join them on the sidelines. That means either teen paceman Ishant Sharma or Rajesh Pawar, or both, will make their India debut.

So we know where the butterfly fleet is headed.

“We have the option of playing three spinners or playing the third quick,” Dravid said. “We'll take that call after one last look at the wicket tomorrow.”

“There's no grass on the track,” he said. “It might keep a bit lower as the game progresses, it might spin. If we play to potential, we'll win.”

Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar, though, felt the pitch will have some bounce. So the clues as to team composition were somewhat conflicting.

Despite the ticklish nervousness of the occasion, both Sharma and Pawar would give anything for a chance to play. They are as different as the arts they practice. Sharma is a right-arm pace bowler, Pawar a left-arm spinner. Sharma is tall — six feet four — and probably freelances as the Qutab Minar in his spare time. Pawar is short. Sharma is only 18, Pawar 27.

But they are bound by one common factor. Both have gotten a whiff of the big chance and then missed out, though the reasons were different. An administrative bungle led Sharma to pack for the South African tour and then unpack. Pawar emerged as a contender in 2000 but a combination of lack of performance and opportunities barred his way. Dhaka might end the wait.

‘Boeing 547’ Kumble back

The jolly message for India is that Anil 'Jumbo' Kumble — or Anil Boeing 547 Kumble — has recovered from the fever that clean bowled him in Chittagong. The man with 547 Test scalps participated in a full practice session with the team.

No place for VVS

Asked about Laxman having to sit out again, Dravid said there was no room for him. “He was picked as a middle-order batsman. Here we've been keen to play five bowlers. So Sachin, me, Sourav, Yuvraj and Laxman are fighting for three slots. Unfortunate, but you can't help it.”

A question on the opening combination of Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik touched a raw nerve again.

“Wasim got a 100 in Cape Town. It was agreed that he and Karthik would get a couple of games,” Dravid said about Jaffer.

Then he launched into another defence of Karthik, who, it must be said, has scored runs and been the most impressive fielder for India on this tour.

“Yes, Dinesh is a wicketkeeper but he is also playing as an opener and scoring runs. What matters is how many runs you score. In my ten years of playing for India, the guy who's got runs with some consistency at the top is a middle-order bat converted into an opener (Virender Sehwag).”

Dravid said he was disinclined to open despite having a record opening partnership to his name (he and Sehwag put on 410 in the Lahore Test last year).

“We've gone down that road,” Dravid said. “Having me at No. 3 works better for the team, especially away from home.”

Whatmore focused on match

Dav Whatmore, coaching Bangladesh for the last time in any match, said he was not letting emotion come in his way.

“For me it's just another Test match. We have to play to the best of our ability and not repeat the mistakes of the last game,” said the Australian.

Captain Habibul Bashar said the players would do everything they could to give Whatmore, who has coached Bangladesh since 2003, a nice goodbye gift.

Whatmore rang hollow when he avoided analysing the Indian team for “ethical reasons”.

“I find it difficult to talk about another side when I'm with one,” he said. If he could start seducing the Indian board as far back as the World Cup for the coaching post, he could easily have at least talked about the team in the context of the match.