Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday virtually ruled out the possibility of his side playing with three front-line spinners in the first Test against England on a dry Sardar Patel Stadium wicket here on Thursday.
This would mean that senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, recalled to the side after more than one year in the wilderness, will be left out of the playing eleven with R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha getting the nod.
“Maybe, if we get a wicket like the one at Kanpur against South Africa (in 2008), we will go in with four spinners. What we need to see is that if we get a wicket like that the fast bowlers also get a bit of reverse swing. It’s always advisable to have a bowling attack to have people (available) for different scenarios,” said Dhoni at the customary pre-match media conference.
Dhoni also informed that speedster Ishant Sharma will not play in first Test as he is yet to recover while all others, including Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav who did not practice today with the rest of the team, were available for selection.
“Ishant has got viral and not recovered fully. All others are available,” said Dhoni.
On Ashok Dinda, called up as back-up for Sharma, Dhoni said it was just an extra precaution that the team has taken.
“He is just a back up. If someone breaks down in the night or tomorrow morning then he comes into the picture,” said the India wicketkeeper.
Explaining the absence of Zaheer and Yadav from practice today, Dhoni said it was as per the team’s plans as they wanted to give the two pace bowlers some rest after the long practice sessions over the last few days in Mumbai and here.
“That’s our plan. We had longish sessions in Mumbai when we were there (from November 9—11) and over the last two days here. (These were) long sessions for them. We said it would be good to give them rest (today),” he said.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was all praise for his spin trump card Ravichandra Ashwin for the variations in his bowling and said that the youngster should use his off-breaks as his stock delivery.
“Ashwin has got variations. He can bowl almost each and every delivery, googly, off-spin, leg-spin, carrom ball. The majority of his deliveries are still off-spin. I think it’s important for him to concentrate on his stock delivery. I think he has done that really well,” said Dhoni when asked to compare Ashwin with unorthodox Pakistan bowler Saeed Ajmal.
“They are different bowlers. It’s unfair to compare them.
Ajmal has got a brilliant ‘doosra’ and generates a lot of pace when it goes away from a right hander.
While 26-year-old Ashwin has grabbed 49 wickets in eight Tests, including 40 at home in five games, 35-year-old Ajmal has impressive figures of 122 wickets in 23 Tests, including 24 in three Tests in the United Arab Emirates nine months ago.