India would do well to go for sporting tracks

Must for the team to get out of the spinner-friendly pitches mindset for home Tests

The first Test is history and India will need to regroup for the second.

Actually, India would be better off with a sporting pitch with consistent bounce and carry rather than the abrasive surface that was offered to them in the first Test. Too much hinged on the toss.

It was on sporting tracks that India exceeded expectations in Australia.

In Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah India has two potent pacemen who can exploit bounce and seam movement. R. Ashwin too is a bigger threat when the track possesses bounce.

If the pitch is not abrasive in nature, there is less chance of the SG ball going soft and losing its sting.

And India’s stroke-makers would be able to play their shots.

India has to get out of this spinner-friendly pitches mindset for home Tests since they now have a capable pace attack and batsmen who can blossom on sporting wickets.

The moment India lost the toss in the first Test, the host was up against it.

England’s strategy was to bat big and its skipper Joe Root, a complete batsman with exemplary footwork and ability to pick length, ensured that with an iridescent 218 in his 100th Test.

India could have done better with its bowling strategy. The middle-and-leg line for the spinners with a leg-side cordon worked in Australia because the pitches Down Under had bounce. It wasn’t easy for batsmen to keep the ball down.

The same line here is fodder for the English batsmen. There is little in terms of bounce and the English batsmen, led by Root, are prolific with the sweep shot.

The line of attack in the Indian conditions for off-spinners should be two stumps outside off, if the bowler wants to spin the ball in, or the off-stump, if the bowler decides to bowl one that holds its line or drifts away.

The slip and the short-leg are critical positions here. Not the leg-slip.

Issue of no balls

And this tendency of the spinners to deliver no balls has to be arrested. India sent down 20 no-balls in the first innings here and seven in the second.

Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem not just lacked control, he also was the worst offender with no balls; unpardonable for spinners.

While the left-handed Washington Sundar batted beautifully in the first innings — he lends depth to the side at the crucial No. 7 slot — the manner he was overlooked with the ball in the second innings was surprising.

With his height and flat, fastish trajectory, he could have been a handful to the England batting. But then, Washington sent down just one over at the fag end of the innings.

India should play Kuldeep Yadav for Nadeem in the second Test because the Chinaman bowler’s variation is the delivery that leaves the right-hander and the Englishmen have struggled against wrist spinners in the past.

It would be an attacking option too.

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