Historically, the Indians are known to be the best players of spin. For the last three, four years, that has changed though. Pace has not troubled the Indians, it’s the spinners who have dominated this new generation of Indian batsmen. The main reason of this struggle has been Indian batsmen’s reluctance to use feet against the spinners.
On Tuesday (November 24), ahead of the third Test against South Africa, Virat Kohli, India’s Test skipper, said that the team had addressed the issue but refused to admit that they are struggling against spinners.
“We had spoken about this issue after the Galle Test and we figured out that we need to be more fearless in stepping out and hitting the ball. Sometimes you can be double-minded thinking ‘What if I get beaten, what if I get stumped’. Once that term ‘if’ comes in, you cannot commit to any shot,” said Kohli.
“I think it just opening up your mindset, those things need to be touched upon every now and then but it is up to the individual how, when and what they decide when they are batting out in the middle. I think it is a matter of mindset rather than reading the ball from the hand.”
The Jamtha track in Nagpur will provide plenty of help to the spinners, especially Ravichandran Ashwin. “As a captain I am delighted Ashwin is in our team along with Amit Mishra, who brings a lot of variation for us and Ravindra Jadeja, who is very , very consistent. All these three put together if I was playing against them I would find it really difficult to score off, I can assure you that. I am sure it is not pleasant facing all three together and I am glad we have all three in our team,” the Indian captain said.
Kohli feels sticking to off-spin has been key to Ashwin’s revival. “If you see his bowling in the last six months, he has got back to basics, he has not tried too much with the ball. You hardly see the carrom ball, so he is relying on his natural bowling action and his stock ball as to say.
“He is flighting the ball; giving more revs and getting stronger which is helping because he is able to put the force behind the ball and get more turn and bounce off pitches which batsmen find difficult to get it from. Obviously he is using his skill combined with fitness and he is just becoming a better bowler every day,” he said.
Kohli was unperturbed about all the talk about turning tracks in the series. “The wicket debate is out of my understanding. I don’t know why there is so much cry about the wickets in India. We absolutely have no problems in playing on this sort of a wicket. If both teams don’t agree on playing on a particular wicket, then it is a wicket that is not suited for a game of cricket,” Kohli said.
Meanwhile, in the opposition camp, Hashim Amla, the South African captain, said he was hopeful of turning around what has been a very average series for him with the bat.
“I definitely would have liked to have got more runs in the One-dayers and Tests so far. Hopefully, the runs are still to come. We’ve got two big Test matches to deal with,” he said on match-eve.
South Africa are a step away from losing an away Test series for the first time in nine years.
“When a team doesn’t score runs, there will be a lot of different theories thrown about. In the first game, bowling India out for 200, had we won that game, this question would have probably have been thrown to India. So you’ve got to take things in perspective,” Amla said.
“Their spinners have bowled well, and it was probably the lack of turning balls that got us out. As a batter when you see a ball turn, it does make you aware that the ball is turning… but when you leave one and it doesn’t turn, you don’t look too good. I think we’ve prepared well,” he summed up.