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India ready with spin trap for England

November 03, 2016 10:37 IST

India's spinners have been unstoppable at home in recent series.
In the three Test series against New Zealand, the Indian spinners took 41/60 wickets that fell.
Before that, against South Africa, the spinners claimed 61/70 wickets.
Harish Kotian believes it will need a miracle from Alastair Cook's England side to stop India's home run.

Team India

IMAGE: Captain Virat Kohli with his team. Photograph: BCCI

Having picked four spinners in its 15-member squad, India has made its intentions clear for the coming Test series against England.

Spin will no doubt be the flavour of the five Test series, and India have given all indications it could pick three spinners in the playing 11.

The final team selection will no doubt depend on the pitches, but England's recent capitulation against spin in Bangladesh will be a big factor in determining the playing side.

England could take some confidence from its series victory in India in 2012, but its batting collapse in the second Test in Bangladesh will leave the Englishmen nervous as they take on the best spin bowling attack in the world at the moment.

World No 1 Ravichandran Ashwin is going through a dream run, picking up wickets at will on helpful home pitches.

Ravindra Jadeja has been the perfect foil at the other end. Not only does the left-arm spinner build up the pressure, he also picks up wickets at a good rate.

And it will be difficult to ignore leg-spinner Amit Mishra's fine performance during the ODI series against New Zealand, in which he took 15 wickets in 5 games.

Although young off-spinner Jayant Yadav will find it difficult to get a game unless injury intervenes, he will learn a lot just by being around his experienced spin colleagues and Indian Coach Anil Kumble, the legendary leg-spinner.

Yadav will be quite handy in the nets for the Indian batsmen, giving them ample practice to prepare for English off-spinner Moeen Ali who took 19 wickets in the five Tests against India in England in 2014.

For England to triumph in India, they will have to find a way to escape India's spin trap. Four years ago, the Englishmen got the better of the Indian spinners to win the four Test series 2-1.

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin, right, celebrates a wicket with Virat Kohli. Photograph: BCCI

Led by Ashwin, India's spinners have been a handful at home in recent series.

In the three Test series against New Zealand, Indian spinners took 41 of the 60 Kiwi wickets. Ashwin and Jadeja taking 27 and 14 wickets respectively.

Before that, South Africa failed the spin Test as the Indian spinners claimed 61/70 South African wickets in the four Test series.

India will be aware that in such tough conditions, it will be tough for its batsmen as well.

The experienced Gautam Gambhir was given the nod with K L Rahul being asked to play a domestic game to prove his fitness before he is considered for selection.

Injuries to Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan during the New Zealand series meant India had to back to Gambhir who responded with a half-century during the Indore Test.

Gambhir kept himself firmly in the fray scoring 147 for Delhi in a Ranji Trophy game against Odisha.

To give the Kolkata Knight Riders skipper a vote of confidence, the selectors have not named any other opener in the team which means Gambhir -- who has played 57 Tests and scored 4,125 runs at an average of 42.52 -- will play the first two Tests for sure, no matter how he fares in the first game.

'Even if the regular openers would have come we would have still given preference to Gautam Gambhir because we have considered him and he should be given a fair chance,' M S K Prasad, the chairman of the selectors, said.

Hardik Pandya's good performance with the ball in the ODI series against New Zealand saw him getting the nod ahead of Stuart Binny for the all-rounder's role.

Pandya's batting abilities lower down the order will come in handy if India goes in with five bowlers, including three spinners.

IMAGE: Ben Duckett bowled by Mehedi Hasan during the second Test in Dhaka. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Someone's loss is someone's gain!

Rohit Sharma being ruled out of the series because of injury paves the way for young Karnataka batsman Karun Nair to make his Test debut.

India boasts a formidable batting line-up with Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, all capable of holding fort against the spinners.

The pacers may once again not have much to do, but Mohammed Shami still poses a threat with his ability to get the ball to reverse on dry pitches.

Virat Kohli's team has been on a roll having won the last four series it has played (against Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies and New Zealand) including two away from home.

It would need a miracle from Alastair Cook's England side to stop India's home run.

Harish Kotian /