As India pack up to leave for a week in New Zealand where they play two matches, a key factor that had worked for them in the first four matches in Australia might prove ineffective, the role of spinners. There are two reasons, the wickets there traditionally don’t offer much grip and hence don’t assist the tweakers much and short side boundaries mean even mistimed shots can clear the ropes.
Ravindra Jadeja’s batting — he made 18 runs in three innings — hasn’t reflected the confidence he has shown in his talwarbazi with bats replacing swords. With a seam bowling all-rounder in Stuart Binny, who has performed in the tri-series and warmup matches, whenever he has got an opportunity, the team management could be forced to rethink their combination.
But skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni clearly said he was in no mood to experiment. “The problem is the side looks better when we play with two spinners. Even though Jadeja is not performing really well as a batsman, he still gives you that comfort. If he is at six or seven, it looks like a slightly better side. We also have to keep in mind the overrate because someone told me that stats say whenever we have played with four fast bowlers, 90% of the time we have lost and 100% of the time the captain has been banned,” he said with a smile.
“It becomes difficult but hopefully the spinners have learnt from their last outing in New Zealand (in 2014). Yes, they may not get a lot of turn there, but they can still play with pace and vary their length to a fair extent. The short boundaries will be a bit of a concern, but overall it will be a good exposure for them, the reason being we are nicely positioned in the table right now. But we would still like to give off our best.”
Dhoni had justified Binny’s selection over Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh, saying: “Irrespective of all the debate, the best seam all-rounder in India has been picked. We are playing a few games in Perth and New Zealand, where we felt the last time there wasn’t much purchase for spinners.”
The two matches in Perth are over and Binny has continued to warm the bench. India will return to Melbourne for the business end of the Cup and with a drop-in pitch there, the combination that outplayed South Africa is likely to be back. New Zealand thus is Binny’s best hope and Jadeja’s worst fear. “We have a lot of faith in Jadeja, but at the end of the day you can’t really play with hope. You want performance on the field,” Dhoni had said on Friday.