India coach Gary Kirsten on Tuesday sprang to the defence of his spinners after both Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra went wicketless on the second day of the first cricket Test against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad.
"I thought Harbhajan bowled really well with as good a rhythm as I have seen him bowl for a while. I think he was happy with his performance," Kirsten said after the second day's play.
In reply to India's first innings total of 426, Sri Lanka ended the day at a strong 275 for three and neither Harbhajan nor leg-spinner Amit Mishra could manage a single wicket.
Kirsten blamed it on the docile nature of the pitch and the rustiness of Mishra, who has not bowled for nearly a month in a competitive match despite being part of the one-day team against Australia.
"It's a good wicket for batting. Amit has not bowled for a while. It's his first one (game) for a while. He had not had many games to play. He would have liked his rhythm too to be better," he said.
He, however, was confident that both the spinners would play key roles in the remainder of the match.
"I am pretty confident both of them are going to be a factor in this Test," Kirsten said.
The India coach felt that the match stood even at the end of second day's play and was happy that the team had scored 400-plus after being precariously placed at 32 for four on Monday.
"We would have loved to have got a few more runs. But it's a tremendous effort from 32 for four to get to 426. We will be happy with that," Kirsten said.
"Sri Lanka also batted well. To me the game is pretty even. At the moment it's a good wicket to bat on. Hopefully it will start taking more and more turn. Bowling last on that wicket is going to suit us," he said.
Dwelling on pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, Kirsten praised the left-arm seamer who came back after a long injury lay-off to claim two quick wickets.
"It's good to have him back. He's an experience and clever bowler. He bowled exceptionally well. Hopefully we can continue to use his skills throughout this match for the rest of the match and into the next one," Kirsten said.
The South African said the team had expected more reverse swing than what was evident today and hoped it would become more pronounced from Wednesday.
"We are hoping for a bit more. It did reverse a bit. In conditions like this it helps to get the ball to reverse. We will hopefully get a bit more in the second innings and tomorrow as well.
"It's not an abrasive surface. The outfield is good and the table around the pitch too is good. Ball has not been hit consistently on to rough patches," he explained.
The coach also said that Virender Sehwag was fine after picking up an injury while fielding on Tuesday.
"He picked up an injury in his finger during fielding but he's fine," Kirsten said about Sehwag's absence during the first session of play.
Also praising Tillakaratne Dilshan's stroke-filled 112 while opening the innings, the India coach said his wards would have to sort him out fast.
"Dilshan is a fantastic player, very talented and aggressive. He has had an incredible couple of years. He's a dangerous player we need to continually work out how to get him out," he said.
Kirsten defended the decision to go in with four frontline bowlers and said that has been the way the Indian team has gone about it since he had taken over as coach.
"It's too early to say whether we should have gone in with four bowlers (only). This has been the case since I have been with the team as that gives us the balance. The biggest issue (with us) is whether to have an extra spinner or seamer.
In New Zealand we played with an extra seamer and in India it's an extra spinner," he elaborated.
"It's been the belief generally that six batsmen in your Test line up can get a big hundred for you. If you can have a bowling all-rounder who can get a big 100, that's (five bowlers) an option. Lots of teams have played very successful cricket for a lot of years with four frontline bowlers. Yuvraj and Viru can do the job for us (as fifth bowler)," he added.
Kirsten's view was sought on the Referral system, which is not being used in this series, and he said there was pros and cons to it.