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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Cricket Columns

Bone-dry Motera track could afford sharp turn
Sourav Ganguly
November 15, 2012
First Published: 00:58 IST(15/11/2012)
Last Updated: 10:41 IST(15/11/2012)

Ahmedabad had a terrific name in terms of development, now it must be up with the best in terms of cleanliness and facilities.

As I walked through the hotel gate I bumped into the match referee, Roshan Mahanama, and got to know that the wicket had not been watered for three days.

India are playing at home and using home conditions to their advantage is important. It is warm here so by the time Day Four and Five arrive, the surface would have been without water for eight days.

So, expecting turn, sharp turn, will not be a surprise.

Also, India's recent record at the Motera has not been good, so a dryish wicket will not be a bad option to start this four-Test series.

Modest record
India have lost to South Africa twice and just managed to save the Test against New Zealand. These thoughts never go away from the captains or players' minds.

In all these games, the new ball hurt India on Day 1 and the dry conditions will take away the minimum moisture which remains on the first day.

In all probability, both sides will go in with two spinners and this is the first time that both the touring and home teams will be equal in strength in the spin department.

Play Monty!
India will look to go in with R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha. MS Dhoni's record shows that he has preferred two seamers and two spinners and with Yuvraj Singh in the squad I don't see him changing that in this game.

England will be in a dilemma on whether to use Samit Patel as the second spinner with Graeme Swann or play Monty Panesar. I can bet they will make a mistake if they leave Monty out.

Teams have looked to bowl pace at India batsman even in India but when one has two high quality spinners in the ranks it will be not be right to bank on Patel as the second spinning option.

The toss again will be crucial as it has been in the sub-continent. India are better players of spin than England, so batting fourth on turning pitches will not be a Herculean task for them.

Yuvraj Singh has got one more opportunity to resurrect his Test career and what better than playing at home. He will accept that as a Test player he has not done enough and would want to change that.

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The writer is a former India skipper


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