India's spin-trick spells trouble for Pak
Indian spinners bowling in tandem with a cluster of close-in fielders still puzzles visiting batsmen.
The great Indian rope trick may have belonged to the realm of imagination, but not the spin trick which still puzzles and bewilders visiting batsmen.
Pakistan were left nonplussed in the New Delhi Test in 1999 when India's incredible leg-spinner Anil Kumble became only the second bowler in the game's history after Englishman Jim Laker to claim 10 wickets in a Test innings.
India have four fast bowlers to choose from for the first Test against Pakistan starting on Tuesday, but cannot ignore their spin-twins — Kumble and Harbhajan Singh — for gaining an early advantage.
The old Indian trick — spinners bowling in tandem on friendly pitches with a cluster of close-in fielders — is still good enough to trap visiting batsmen and produce the desired result.
India skipper Sourav Ganguly has the luxury of leading a full-strength bowling attack, but will be forced to drop one or two of his pacemen to accommodate the spin duo on low, slow pitches.
Kumble is the fifth-highest wicket-taker in the world with 444 scalps in 92 matches and has already played match-winning roles against Pakistan. His 10-wicket haul is still the talking point of India-Pakistan contests.
Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer said his batsmen needed to apply themselves well against the Indian spin duo to sustain their chances of posting big scores.
"It will be a huge challenge to confront the likes of Kumble and Harbhajan," said Woolmer.
Kumble and Harbhajan may not allow Pakistani batsmen the luxury of playing long innings since both are capable of keeping unrelenting pressure with their subtle variations.
Kumble is a leg-spinner with a difference. He is not a big turner of the ball like Australian Shane Warne or Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, but has the skill to test batsmen with accuracy and disconcerting bounce.