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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

India vs Australia: To make or not to make a turner at Chinnaswamy Stadium

India cricket team lost the first Test against Australia cricket team by 333 runs, inside three days. The second Test starts in Bangalore on March 4

cricket Updated: Feb 27, 2017 23:57 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
In the first Test in Pune, where the ball was turning from Day 1, it was not India cricket team spinners Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja who took control. Steve O’Keefe (right), who took 12 wickets in the match, and Nathan Lyon tore through the Indian batting led by Virat Kohli.
In the first Test in Pune, where the ball was turning from Day 1, it was not India cricket team spinners Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja who took control. Steve O’Keefe (right), who took 12 wickets in the match, and Nathan Lyon tore through the Indian batting led by Virat Kohli.(Reuters)

“For Bangalore, we are caught between the devil and the deep sea,” India spin legend Erapalli Prasanna declared on Monday, observing that the Indian team management will be in a dilemma over the wicket for the second Test after their ploy to go for a rank turner in the first game spectacularly backfired.

“I don’t expect a turner at Bangalore,” the former off-spinner predicted ahead of the match to be staged in his hometown from Saturday.

Read more | Virat Kohli & Co go trekking to take mind off heavy Pune defeat against Australia

The debate about the rank turner dished out for the Pune Test has raged on after Australia cricket team turned the tables on India, handed them a 333-run defeat inside three days.


Australia left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefecaptured 12 for 70, the finest haul by a visiting spinner. He just missed out on the record for a visiting bowler in India, England all-rounder Ian Botham’s 13-wicket Test haul in 1979-80.

Read more | Is Indian cricket team management to be blamed for poor Pune wicket in 1st Test?

The 32-year-old O’Keefe took identical hauls of 6/35 in either innings, after sending India tumbling to 105 all in the first innings, the hosts losing an astonishing seven wickets for 11 runs. India were routed for 107 in the second innings.


India lasted a mere 444 deliveries across the two innings, the fewest faced by them in two completed innings. The combined total of 212 was India’s lowest in a home Test where they had lost all 20 wickets.

Prasanna, who was a member of India’s famed spin quartet in the 1960s and 1970s and considered an astute mind in the game, said: “If I was the curator, I will prepare a good wicket, which will turn from fourth and fifth day.”

Read more | Steve O’Keefe scored in adapting on the go, says Australia spin consultant

India were on a roll in the long home season till they were jolted by Australia last week. Prasanna, who was famous for mesmerising batsmen with his flight and a bag of tricks, observed that India still didn’t have the right template for wickets which suited their strengths.


For him, the Test series wins against South Africa, New Zealand and England were not exactly a pointer to whether India had got their pitch preparations right. The South Africa batting had simply crumbled, offering no challenge on turning wickets similar to Pune laid out during the series in late 2015.

“Against New Zealand, we succeeded because they crumbled in a heap. We batted well versus England, but it was bad captaincy by them despite getting scores of 400 plus.

Read more | India slayer Steve O’Keefe fails to impress Harbhajan Singh, Ravi Shastri

But, the Australians will kill you if you allow them to get 400, (they are) not like England. The England captaincy was really poor.”


Things have changed in Indian cricket in the sense that local curators have limited say in the preparation of the wicket. According to the new BCCI diktat, the local expert works under the supervision of the zonal and chief curators, who fly down a few days ahead of the Test.

The surprise factor in the Pune was the Indian spin trio of R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav being outperformed by the Australian duo of Steve O’Keefe and off-spinner Nathan Lyon.


So far, the Indian spinners had been outstanding, getting their plans spot on. But at Pune, Prasanna was put off by Ashwin & Co’s line of attack.

Read more | Mohammed Shami targets last two Vijay Hazare games with eye on Test series

Since the Decision Review System (DRS) was introduced, leg before has come more into play, but Prasanna said the bowlers cannot change their line of attack because of that. For him, a genuine wicket is bowled or caught behind while leg before is incidental.

“The Indian spinners were trying to take leg before wickets all the while (at Pune). In recent times, a lot of lbw decisions have been given on the front foot, (hence) they were looking to attack the pads, more than going for the edge of the bat and caught behind.”

Read more | Mahendra Singh Dhoni dines with Kharagpur friends during Vijay Hazare Trophy

Giving a basic example, he said the lbw was just like in batting where “reverse sweep is just an incidental shot, it’s not a proper stroke like the cover drive.”

Ashwin and Jadeja shared 12 wickets, but India also paid the penalty for repeatedly dropping catches off Australia skipper Steve Smith during his second innings century (109), which put the match out of reach for the hosts.


“Jadeja was unable to control his spin, and was depending a lot on his arm ball, while Ashwin was attempting leg before only. The Australian spinners were trying to take genuine wickets. That was the difference between our bowlers and theirs,” Prasanna said.

Read more | Supreme Court agrees to hear Amitabh Chaudhary’s plea against CoA

The former off-spinner, who had a lot of success against Australia, both at home and away, said Indian spinners should have looked to flight the ball.

Saying that even experts were off the mark with their analysis, Prasanna said: “They were not tempting the batsmen to come out and drive. On that wicket they should be flighting the ball more, I saw it happen only once in 75 overs, when Ashwin drew out Steve Smith in the first innings.

“Flighting the ball is not tossing up the ball. It is deceptive flight, where the ball dips.”