India vs West Indies 2013: Shane Shilingford, Veerasammy Permaul pose spin threat to the hosts

Veerasammy Permaul (centre) was impressive against India A in September and also during the recent tour match facing Uttar Pradesh © AFP

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and co. should be wary of the West Indian spinners if they are considering demands for turning tracks. India have may Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, but in Veerasammy Permaul and Shane Shillingford, West Indies too have a potent spin attack.  Abhijit Banare discusses the spin factor  with the India-West Indies Test series coming up.

In the first Test at Ahmedabad in November last year, England were embarrassed by Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha as they made merry by turning the ball fair and square. It was almost predictable that England batsmen’s feet would be found wanting in spin-friendly conditions. But the home side soon had a taste of their own medicine when top-ranked off-spinner Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar returned the favour with some brilliant bowling in the next Test at Mumbai. The pair bagged 19 of the 20 Indian wickets at the Wankhede Stadium. Keeping that in mind, India have a task at hand as they wouldn’t want to play into the hands of the opposition during the upcoming Test series against the West Indies.

A region known for its fast bowlers now has a few quality spinners. Veerasammy Permaul and Shane Shilllingford are likely to be the two spinners in action during the series against India. When one of the finest spinners in the world Saqlain Mushtaq has words of praise for the Carribbean tweakers, it does speak about their quality.

Although Shillingford missed out on some practice during the India A matches, Mushtaq was particularly impressed with the effort the right-arm off-spinner had put in. Shillingford also missed the practice game against Uttar Pradesh and is doubtful for the first Test. West Indies would hope he regains fitness before the first Test. Not to forget a handy option in the form of Narsingh Deonarine.

Very little was known about Permaul, the left-arm bowler with a little shuffle in his run-up and beautiful flight before the series against India. He was impressive against India A in September and also during the recent tour match facing Uttar Pradesh. His orthodox left-arm spinners may test the Indian batsmen, who are known to play spin very well. Speaking ahead of the series, Permaul showed the right attitude in adapting to Indian conditions by preparing himself for flat decks and persisting with a disciplined line.

For India though, Ashwin and Ojha are likely to be the lead spinners. MS Dhoni can spring a surprise with an off and leg-spin combination by using Amit Mishra, who has been in a good form, but hasn’t been utilised a lot. Ultimately, it’s the ability of the batsmen that may make the difference. This is where the entire duel turns into a lopsided contest. Except for the fiery Chris Gayle and the ever-determined Shivnarine Chanderpaul, there is an opportunity for the spinners to test the visitors.

The two Tests to be played at the Eden Gardens and Wankhede have ample of opportunities for spinners to make their strong presence felt. A year ago, there was immense pressure on Prabir Mukherjee — the curator of the Eden pitch to create a turner. The Monty-Swann antics at Wankhede too left the Indians in a mess. The West Indian spinners may not be in the same class as the English duo, but that won’t deter Shillingford and Permaul from spinning a web around India. Hence, India needs to think twice before demanding square turners.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)