HYDERABAD: Every captain likes to have a special weapon in his armoury. When it comes to limited-over cricket, it could be a pinch-hitter. When the time for longest format comes, it could be a spinner. As skipper, Virat Kohli has always shown a penchant for wrist-spinners. It became obvious when senior tweakers Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were left out of the ODI and T20 squads about a year ago to accommodate the wrist spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
Owing to consistent performances and the X factor, Yadav graduated to the five-day format. Here too, he has underlined his potential by grabbing 15 wickets in the four Tests that he has been a part of. Highlight of his rookie Test career came in the last match, during which he singlehandedly trampled the West Indies top-order in the second innings, taking 5/57.
However, Kohli hinted on the eve of the second Test that India will stick with either Ashwin or Jadeja on the Australia tour. When asked to comment on the role of spinners in conditions Down Under, the 29-year-old retorted, “Basically you look at guys who are putting revs on the ball, that’s something I always feel works in overseas conditions. Guys who get the ball to bite off the pitch are the ones to succeed, not just in Indian conditions but overseas as well.
“If you see someone like Moeen (Ali) and the way he bowls, it’s the pace that puts you in doubt. I think Ashwin did that in England, as he bowled quicker than he used to. It’s something he has added to his game. Jaddu obviously is the bowler who always has done that.” His affinity to wrist-spinners is not new. In the first Test of the last Australia tour (2014), Kohli had handed a debut to leggie Karn Sharma despite having both the aforementioned finger spinners in the squad.
Though Ashwin remains out of the limited-overs set up, Jadeja has made a strong comeback in ODIs. After a fruitful Asia Cup, the left-arm spinner has been named in the ODI squad for the West Indies series. In the context of the Australia series, the skipper said these two can do the job. “I think these two guys are equipped to do the job for us in any condition. They have identified the areas that they needed to work on and worked on them,” Kohli opined.
Though Kuldeep has been performing well in all three formats, the management might only choose between Ashwin and Jadeja, since they also bring some batting talent to the table. “I feel with our bowling attack, we don’t have any issues as such to find the right balance. We feel as team management we’re happy with how the guys are working towards the game,” Kohli signed off. With different conditions in Australia, there is no way all the three would play in the same match. Playing one spinner will most likely be the strategy. And Kohli’s words might have signalled that Kuldeep is yet to crack the tough nut.