There has been a lot of talk about the Indian World Cup squad being packed with spinners, not surprising considering the conditions in the sub-continent. The Indian team has eight spinners – three frontline spinners in Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla and Ravichandran Ashwin and five part-timers in Yusuf Pathan, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and Sachin Tendulkar.
The absence of a genuine left-arm spinner, however, is glaring.
Indian left-arm spinners have done well in World Cups. I remember Maninder Singh bowling really well until that semi-final loss to England in the 1987 World Cup. So was Ravi Shastri. The two Indian left-armers bowled so tidily during the ’87 edition that the then England captain, Mike Gatting, talked openly about his team’s counter for Maninder and Shastri.
Even Venkatapathy Raju, now a national selector, bowled impressively at the 1996 World Cup in the sub-continent which makes one point clear: opposition batsmen are never comfortable playing left-arm spinners on sub-continent tracks.
One feels bad for someone like Pragyan Ojha who has been doing well for a long time. His inclusion would have lent more variety as most of the part-timers bowl off-spin, though we have one leg-spinner in Chawla.
Ojha has no batting pretensions, and that could probably have gone against him in a day and time when tail-enders are expected to chip in with the bat.
Ojha is a type of bowler who will go for wickets rather than opt for containment. Getting wickets in the middle overs can change the game dramatically, and this is where India will miss a bowler like him.
(Keshab Jena is a business journalist who likes to put forth his cricketing thoughts when he has the time for it)