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Onus on spinners

Onus on spinners
Highlights

Wednesday marked a new dawn for Team India on at least two counts. Rajkot was the latest to be baptised as a Test venue while the more crucial one is that India earned the dubious distinction of being the last of the ten Test playing nations to accept the DRS, a gadget-inspired innovation that it has opposed tooth and nail. 

Wednesday marked a new dawn for Team India on at least two counts. Rajkot was the latest to be baptised as a Test venue while the more crucial one is that India earned the dubious distinction of being the last of the ten Test playing nations to accept the DRS, a gadget-inspired innovation that it has opposed tooth and nail.

Unmindful of how the pundits take to this, what is glaringly clear is that the hasty retreat indicates that the clout the bosses at Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) believed they enjoyed with the ‘Big Brother’ tag is fast eroding.

Today, the awe that it commanded during the days when N Srinivasan and Jagmohan Dalmiya were at the helm of affairs is passé. Although, the entire cricketing world adopted the new ruling, BCCI was steadfast in its opposition, citing one reason or the other.

It is no coincidence that the ascendency of Shashank Manohar to the ICC think-tank has actually coincided with BCCI’s Humpty Dumpty fall from the global firmament. This has nothing to do with either the IPL fixing fracas or the gathering storm within, which comes in the form of the three-member Lodha ‘reform’ panel that is hanging like the Damocle’s Sword.

It is rather shameful that having been driven to the wall, the exasperated BCCI had asked the ECB to foot its own travel bill, before the Supreme Court emerged as the eleventh hour saviour while giving the freedom to use its funds for the purpose.

The critics, there is no dearth of it, point out that the incumbent panel had hit upon this counter-strategy to ostensibly earn some sympathy from the die-hard fans.

Of course, to the fans, as such, it is only Kohli and his boys, who can turn attention away from the boardroom manipulations by scripting a fairytale run that includes a glorious four-year unbeaten record at home.

Ironically, the last visiting outfit to tame India in its backyard was the 2012 England team. The 113th showdown between the two nations, since they first clashed at Lord’s in 1932, is heading to be a pot-boiler if the proceedings of the first two days are pointers.

The Cook-led team walloped Indian bowlers after Kohli in tandem with coach Anil Kumble decided to revisit the glory days of the 1970s and 80s when the team depended on its spin quartet. The present composition also has a similar line-up with proven match-winner, Ravichandran Ashwin shouldering the responsibility of keeping the batsmen trapped in their magical weaves.

England may be coming off from a humiliating setback against Bangladesh but they will be no pushovers, particularly considering that Cook has been at his consistent best against Indian bowlers, while Joe Root has been even more spectacular, on this count.

As things stand, irrespective of how Indian batsmen handle Stuart Broad, Moeen Ali and the all-round abilities of Ben Stokes (James Anderson will be back for the Visakhapatnam Test), the onus will be on Ashwin and his fellow-spinners to tilt the scales.

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