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India batsmen no longer in a spin

Murali and Mendis, in particular, caught Indians on the wrong foot in 2008, but the visitors seem better prepared against the spin duo this time around, reports Nilankur Das.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2009 00:20 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times

Sri Lanka know that if they are to come back in this series, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis will have to be among wickets. The other bowlers too have looked to the spin duo for breakthroughs, but that hasn't happened. In the two matches, the duo has got just three scalps.

So, have India found a way of countering the threat?

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni smiled, "There are three more games to go. I won't say that. They are not getting wickets but at the same time they are not giving too many runs. We are cautious against them and targetting the other bowlers. We are happy that we are not giving wickets to the spinners so far."

While Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir have used the sweep to good effect against Muralitharan, the slowness of the wicket has given batsmen, who haven't started to pick Mendis off the hand, time to go on to the backfoot, watch what the ball is doing and then play the shot.

The visitors haven't looked to score quickly off the duo and Mahela Jayawardene lives in hope. "The spinners are not getting wickets but they are not conceding too many runs either. It would be interesting to see what the Indians do when they need to score quickly off them," he said after training on Monday.

Jayawardene was not keen to put pressure on the young Mendis. "We can't ask a 23-year-old to take four wickets in every game. A lot of great bowlers did not pick so many wickets in 50 matches. Once the batsmen start to pick a bowler, he has to change and that's how he will learn. I am sure Ajantha will bounce back. It's not a huge concern for me honestly. He is still bowling well, creating opportunities, he is probably not picking up wickets because people are not taking too many risks."

Muralitharan too backed Mendis. "Now that the batsmen are picking him, his magic is not there anymore. He has to try different things in the nets and keep developing himself. I did not get off to a great start initially in my career. I worked in the nets and improved on my bowling. A lot of thinking and hard work is involved."

First Published: Feb 03, 2009 00:15 IST