Despite the home Test series loss against England, India are expected to welcome the young Australia batsmen with turning tracks. The Australia team, arriving in batches for the series starting in Chennai on February 22, must brace themselves for a spin-oriented bowling attack.
After the victory over England in the first Test at Ahmedabad, India skipper MS Dhoni had demanded rank turners. The captain's wish was fulfilled but the plan backfired as the visitors won the four-match series 2-1.
However, what is apparent is the wickets will not be fresh, and with an entire Ranji season having been played out, they are bound to afford turn. "Indian wickets always offer turn. After so many domestic games, there is obviously going to be turn," Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Sanjay Jagdale told HT when asked if tracks similar to the ones given to England will be prepared for Australia. "We will play on the wickets the curators give us."
While England had quality spinners in Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, Australia have only the inexperienced Nathan Lyon and Xavier Doherty to fall back on.
India have a stronger spin attack compared to the depleted pace attack. With Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav injured, the hosts have included Ashok Dinda and Bhuvneshwar Kumar - both yet to play Tests - to partner Ishant Sharma for the first two Tests. There are even doubts surrounding Ishant's fitness while R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja are the spin options.
These factors could provide a further thrust to turners being laid out for the Tests to be played at Chennai, Hyderabad, Mohali and Delhi. HT has also learnt that when the BCCI's curators met in Chennai for a meeting, instructions to prepare turners were passed on to the associations staging the Tests.
"After the meeting in Chennai, the BCCI's top officials asked the four venues to prepare turners as Dhoni once again demanded them," said a source. "It is unlikely any of the venues will go against that."
However, Jagdale denied any such move. "The meeting was mainly to discuss pitches during the IPL. There is no directive."