I have been reading a lot of reports in Australian newspapers that Stuart MacGill’s injury is a big set back to Australia when they play India this summer. IMHO, it is the exact opposite.
No disrespect to MacGill – he is a great wrist spinner, probably the best in Australia since Warney retired. But the fact is that India have always played spin well. Even the greatest spinner of all time – Shane Warne has struggled against India. His average of 47.18 is in stark contrast to his career average of 25.41. Clearly the Indians play spin well. If you look at MacGill’s stats against India, it is a modest 14 wickets @ 50.78 in 4 tests. Even if McGill played he wouldn’t have been a big threat. Now that he is out of the equation, the other spinners in the scheme of things appear to be an even lesser threat –
- Brad Hogg, who has bowled reasonably well against India in ODI matches but Test cricket is an altogether different game
- Dan Cullen, who bowls off break and has played one test against Bangladesh
- Bryce McGain, the Victorian leggie who is the leading wicket taker among spinners in the domestic tournament this season.
Spin bowling appears to be the weakest link in the Australian bowling attack. The best strategy for Australia would be to play all four fast bowlers – Lee, Tait, Johnson and Clark. Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke can act as relief slow bowlers. Fast bowling is Australia’s strength and they should use it. They should do this even in Sydney and Adelaide where there is chance of turn in the wicket. If MacGill is fully fit, the thought of playing 4 fast bowlers would never arise (except maybe at the WACA), and that is why MacGill’s injury is a bad thing for India and its supporters.
India went into the third and final test against Pakistan with 4 changes to the team – Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan coming in the place of Tendulkar, Dhoni, Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel, owing to injuries.
It is a well known fact that the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore is not a great ground for India – especially when they are playing Pakistan in test cricket. I am sure Kumble, the Indian captain, would have been well aware of this when he won the toss and elected to bat first in his home ground, hoping for a huge score in the first innings to break the jinx. But by lunch, Kumble must have felt a bit of deja vu, when India had lost four wickets and were struggling at 64/4.
But he needn’t have worried. The next two sessions were a completely different story – both Yuvraj Singh, (who has been in good nick in the one dayers) and Saurav Ganguly (who was had a great comeback to test cricket) pummelled the bowling and added 300 runs for the fifth wicket. Yuvraj Singh was finally out just before stumps for 161. He also scored at a hectic pace of nearly 5 runs an over.
At stumps, Ganguly was on 125* with Karthik for company. India is now nicely placed at 365/5. It is a crucial game for Karthik, who happens to be the only batsman not amongst the runs for India in this series – it will be interesting to see how he plays tomorrow. Earlier Gautam Gambhir, who is the main contender for Karthik’s opening slot scored just 5 runs. Dravid’s poor form at his home ground continued when he was out for just 19.
For Pakistan – Yasir Arafat, the debutant had a good start to his test career as he took three quick wickets before lunch. Since then, the bowling has not been threatening and with Shoaib Akthar injured, Pakistan were struggling to take wickets and to keep the scoring rate down.