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HindustanTimes Tue,22 Jul 2014

Cricket

No silly stunts as Oz kick off
Sahan Bidappa, Hindustan Times
Chennai, February 11, 2013
First Published: 23:51 IST(11/2/2013)
Last Updated: 10:49 IST(12/2/2013)

Once bitten twice shy goes the saying and India seem to have realised that playing mind games is not their forte.

When England arrived in India in November, the Board of Control for Cricket in India laid out an unpleasant welcome for the tourists - by not including a single frontline spinner for their practice games.

The decision to lay a 'spin trap' was seen more as a tit-for-tat than cricketing reasons, with revenge on their mind after India were drubbed 0-4 in outright seaming conditions on their disastrous tour  of 2011.

There was nothing wrong in playing to one's strengths, but in this case it was a defensive ploy, a quick patch-up job to fix a deep crater in India's recent Test record.

No wonder it backfired then, as England went back triumphant 2-1, their spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar adding insult to injury.

Nervous wait
Cut to the present and the Indians are cautious as they host another opponent who had thumped them at home.

Around this time last year, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men returned from Australia with their confidence shattered and team-unity questioned after they were subjected to another whitewash - forcing two of India's great batsmen to hang up their boots.

As they host Australia for a four-Test series starting on February 22, India are, thankfully, focussed on the job in hand rather than looking to employ silly methods.

The selectors have axed the non-performing Gautam Gambhir and started to look beyond the injury-prone Zaheer Khan.

And they have selected teams on merit for Australia's practice games in Chennai.

The visitors begin their India sojourn against a Board President's XI comprising three spinners in the 12-man squad.

Leg-spinner Sarabjit Ladda and off-spinners Parvez Rassol and Kamlesh Makwana will provide ample spin practice to Australia at the Guru Nanak College ground in the two-day affair starting on Tuesday.

While one of them is likely to sit out the match, at least India have not stooped to the level they did against England.

Dead serious
In fact, President's XI skipper, Abhinav Mukund, on the eve of the game, went on to add that no game can be taken casually and that his team will to ready to give off their best against the Aussies, who will have only 11 men available for the match as the final batch is still to arrive.

"I think it's a great incentive for us fringe players to do well in any game. There is never a dead rubber for anyone, even for a fringe player. When you are a fringe player, every game is important," the opening batsman from Chennai said.

Mukund is one of the five players with international experience in this match. An India A team is also scheduled to take on the Aussies.

England, when they played one their warm-up games against Haryana, the domestic team's lead spinner Amit Mishra, who has played 13 Tests, clearly under-bowled himself.

Mukund tried to steer clear of it saying it was a chance for many in the squad to gain international exposure.

"It's important to make an impression against any side, whether it's a weak Australia or a strong one. It's important that we do well against the visiting team. We'll give them a good game, but at the same time we'll do well for our own growth in our career," the left-handed batsman added.


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