The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘We ought to have taken 3 spinners’

Calcutta: The Indian thinktank opts for two spinners Down Under, a former master turner says three would have been the right choice. Erapalli Prasanna feels the team will suffer further if they field four specialist bowlers in the Test matches Down Under, while adding that there is no chance of saving the series.

“You have to play to your strength, no matter where you are playing. We could have sacrificed a spinner if we had a formidable set of medium-pacers. I don’t think our quick bowlers can be rated so highly,” the off-spin legend told The Telegraph on Tuesday, during the tri-series final between India and Australia.

“It’s true the ball will bounce and come on to the bat on most pitches in Australia. But that doesn’t mean you have to pack the squad with seamers who are not the better bowlers in our case. You have to have the better bowlers and if that means carrying another spinner, let it be. They should have included four seamers and three spinners in the squad.”

The Bangalore-based veteran, who is set to shift to the city shortly, said India’s chances of avoiding a battering against the world champions will hinge on the length they bowl.

“They can’t afford to bowl short. The Australians thrive on cuts and pulls. If the Indian seamers get tempted by the hard tracks and go for the batsman’s head, they will be punished. The Australians are far too well versed with the technique of handling that stuff and are used to the pace at which our quicker bowlers operate.

“All our bowlers, especially the spinners, will have to make the Australians play on the frontfoot and make them drive. That is their only chance of succeeding against some of the better batsmen in the world today,” Prasanna noted.

Explaining why India must include five specialist bowlers in the playing XI, he said: “See, the time between the 20th and 80th over is crucial. This is the period when the new ball loses shine and the second new ball can’t be obtained. You need the fifth bowler so that the batsmen can’t break free in this phase.

“If they go in with four specialists, India will not be able to control the Australian batsmen. If they have to fight, they must keep the Australian total between 300-330. Something in the range of 450 will mean that India will have to bat to survive. They won’t have any chance of going for a win.

“We do have a good set of batsmen. That is clearly our strength. Fielding an extra bowler should not make any difference. It all depends on how many runs you concede and to keep that to minimum, five bowlers are essential,” said Prasanna.

He felt 2-0 or 2-1 in Australia’s favour in the four-Test series will be a fair result as far as India is concerned. “I don’t see them winning the series. They should at least save one Test and if possible, try and go for a win in Sydney.”

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