It is always a gamble when a captain asks for a specified wicket. Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it boomerangs. If the Ahmedabad wicket, to an extent, was to India’s liking, the Mumbai wicket turned to be a nightmare for the home side.
The Mumbai defeat has raised a few eyebrows on the capability of the Indian spinners — Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh — because they failed to take advantage. There was bounce and turn. However, it helped England’s Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, who captured 19 wickets, to destroy the Indian batting.
The question is whether the pressure or over-anxiety to take wickets on turning tracks cost India dear. To some extent, it may be true. If the ball turns more, a spinner gets excited. It is important for the spinner to be patient. A spinner has to read the wicket and bowl accordingly.
Former India left-arm spinner SL Venkatapathy Raju said in their eagerness to take wickets, the spinners attacked more and as a result they could not get the right length. “A spinner always gets excited when he sees the ball turn. Therefore, the spinner has to be patient and not try too much variations till he gets the right length,’’ said Raju, adding, most of the visiting batsmen try to spoil the Indian spinners’ rhythm with sweep shots. “The best way is to bowl a little more from behind the stumps which may do the trick.’’ Raju said it was unfair to criticise the Indian spinners for Mumbai loss. “Of course, they were upstaged by Panesar and Swann. But it was one bad match for the Indian spinners. I’m sure they will come back strongly in the third Test.
Ashwin was perhaps experimenting too much with his variation. He is an intelligent bowler and should concentrate on his stock ball before trying his variations. But in Mumbai, he bowed little bit short. He should give the ball a little more air. For Harbhajan, it was a huge pressure game. He is making a comeback and there is always pressure to take wickets. He should regain his confidence in the third Test,’’ added Raju.
Raju said Ojha, under the circumstances, bowled well. “It is a question of confidence. He bowled some excellent deliveries but he should bowl little more tight,’’ he said. The former India spinner said Panesar bowled beautifully. “He has a high-arm action and his much quicker through the air than Ojha. He gave the ball at lot more air and bowled a perfect length. That was the key to his success. Swann has always been a world-class bowler. He is all guile and imparts good spin on the ball. Remember, the English spinners have loads of experience,’’ he said.
It is back to basics, according to Sunil Joshi, the former Indian left-arm spinner. “We could not take advantage of the pitch but it happens some times. The best way to regain confidence is to go back to the basics. That will always helps any cricketer,’’ he said.
In fact, after the Mumbai Test, Ojha flew back to Hyderabad and bowled for long hours at the nets. “Ojha is a good learner. That has helped him to take wickets in Test matches,’’ he said. Joshi said with lessons learnt, Ashwin will be a different bowler at Kolkata. “He reads the game well. He was the leading wicket-taker against West Indies and New Zealand. Of course, England are a much stronger team and Ashwin has to make adjustments to his line and length,’’ he said.