The fine art of spin bowling teases, taunts and tricks batsmen and even some of the greatest batsmen in the history of the game known to have quickly adapted to the changing conditions — weather and pitch — have been mesmerised by India’s famous spin bowlers.
Without doubt spin has been India’s trump card and it is amply reflected in the 2,311 wickets taken by 62 spinners of all variety in home Test matches as against 1,126 wickets taken by the fast bowlers.
Against England in particular the Indian spin department has touched a landmark of 500 wickets; so far India has tried 46 spinners (part time spinners included) and 35 of them have taken it to the magic figure with leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrashekhar leading the tally with 64, followed by Anil Kumble (56), Bishen Singh Bedi (50), Salim Durrani (36), Vinoo Mankad (34), Harbhajan Singh, Erapalli Prasanna (29 each), Chandu Borde (25), Dilip Doshi and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan (23 each). India’s pace bowlers have accounted for 213 England victims at home.
Spin in the form of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha which played its part in India’s success against the West Indies (last year) and against New Zealand recently will be in the forefront again. It’s not known whether the national selection committee will bring back Harbhajan Singh into the Test team following his four-wicket spell in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup against England in Sri Lanka.
While the national selection committee will make its intentions known on November 5 when it picks the team for the first Test to be played at Ahmedabad, England’s Andy Flower made an interesting observation at the press conference here on Monday that the England team did not focus only on the ways to deal with spin during the three-day camp in Dubai.
“The seamers can take wickets on these pitches here,” he declared. Flower obviously feels that the England attack that outwitted India in the last English summer (Stuart Broad 25, James Anderson 21, Tim Bresnan 16 and Chris Tremlett 4) with the 2010 batch Dukes ball has the knowledge to manipulate the SG Test ball to succeed in Indian conditions.
Not for the first time that England will bank on the fast bowlers’ ilk in India, though Alastair Cook’s team boasts of three spinners in Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and Samit Patel.
England in the previous 13 visits has seen its seam attack pick up 382 wickets at 33.52 as against 334 at 34.4 by its spinners. In fact its the likes of left-arm seamer John Lever (37 wickets in eight Tests at 19.76), all-rounders Ian Botham (30 in seven Tests at 25.53), Andrew Flintoff (24 in eight at 30.46) and Bob Willis (32 in 10 Tests at 22.38), Chris Old (25 in eight Tests at 22.88), Mathew Hoggard (22 in six at 23.32) and Tony Grieg (21 in 10 at 27.76) who have made an impact in Indian conditions.
Neil Foster’s superb spells of six for 104 and five for 59 won a Test for England by nine wickets at Chennai in the 1984-85 series under David Gower. More recently it was Flintoff who fashioned a dramatic change of fortunes for England with a three-wicket burst and won the Wankhede Test in the 2005-06 series.
But England has been well served by its spinners in India; 334 wickets is a very impressive number it has to be proud of with left-arm Derek Underwood causing much of the damage with 54 wickets.
Quality spinners like Pat Pocock (27), Fred Titmus (27), Tony Lock (22), David Allen (21), Hedley Verity (23) and Roy Tattersall (21) extracted the maximum of Indian wickets. England’s main spinner Graeme Swann has a fantastic record of 192 wickets in 46 Tests at 29.59 and he must be looking forward to improve his record in India which is eight wickets in two Tests at 39.50.
Keywords: England's tour of India