Did India fail the trial by spin ?

Tags: India tour of Sri Lanka, 2021, India, Sri Lanka

Published on: Jul 31, 2021

The recent series against Sri Lanka for the so called “second string Indian team” was meant to be an audition for the few spots that are still up for grabs in the lead up to the marquee T20 event scheduled later this year. The series, which consisted of three ODIs and as many T20Is, could be actually be divided into 2 phases - with one being the three one dayers and the first T20, where every Indian player from the touring party was available for selection, and the second being the post Krunal Pandya testing positive phase, where the number of available Indian batsmen was comparable to the number of spinners that Sri Lanka were fielding in their eleven.

When India were at full strength, they simply looked invincible. Shaw was ruthlessly smashing boundaries from the word go, Suryakumar Yadav was at his elegant best. Shikhar could play the anchor role around these dashers, and a few cameos here and there from Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson meant that India were covered in the batting department.

Not to forget the once in a year kind of heist from Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the second ODI. In the bowling department, Chahal-Kuldeep reunited after two years and troubled the Lankan batters. Hardik was able to slip in a few overs and barring a few expensive last overs from Bhuvi, the bowlers did a fine job.

However, the situation changed drastically ever since the senior Pandya brother tested positive for Covid. With as many as nine players out of contention for the remainder of the series, India had to field five debutants in two matches. The likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devdutt Padikkal are without a doubt impressive youngsters who did well in the IPL, but they struggled big time against spin in trying conditions.

The stocks of Wanindu Hasaranga have gone up exponentially, and he had the number of Sanju Samson, who by the way is a veteran of 114 IPL games. Nitish Rana had a disappointing start to his international career as he failed to contribute significantly.But the question arises, with most of the players being seasoned IPL performers, why are they still struggling against spinners, especially after playing all of their cricket in India? The answer is a little complicated. The conditions on offer there in Sri Lanka aren’t really the replica of the conditions they get here in India, either in IPL matches, or even in the domestic matches. There has been a conscious effort to make pitches more helpful for the fast bowlers in the domestic arena, which has already paid rich dividends as we see the success of Indian fast bowlers around the globe.

But somehow, that has meant that the quality of batsmen playing spin has gone down just a tad. Another reason could be that the better spin playing batsmen are part of the test team in the UK awaiting the English challenge. All in all, it definitely felt weird to see a team coached by Rahul Dravid struggle against spin. But given the unavailability of several batsmen and the extremity of the conditions, this shouldn’t be a problem for the long haul.

- Jatin Shad

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