Island Cricket

Monday, August 25, 2008

Spin kills

"I had followed India's Test fortunes for 45 years, and never once in that time had I seen the Indian batsmen devastated by a slow bowler through a whole series," writes Mukul Kesavan for Cricinfo.

So the Asia Cup defeat didn't worry me because the Fabulous Four - Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly, arguably the best players of spin bowling in the world over long and distinguished careers, hadn't figured in that team. I wasn't complacent, but it was reasonable to believe that they would figure Mendis out. The last freak spinner they had played, Paul Adams, hadn't puzzled them for a minute. While Mendis was clearly the better bowler, given his limited-overs performance and Bishan Bedi's testimonial, how dangerous could a Test debutant be, given the collective experience of the best batting line-up?

Very dangerous. It was Dravid's dismissal in the first Test that set the alarms off. Nobody in the world plays later off the back foot than Dravid did. The sight of him, crease-bound, stabbing down on Mendis down a middle-stump line, missing by a mile and the ball taking the off bail was a more significant moment in the history of Test cricket than the much-celebrated ball, which Warne ripped across Mike Gatting to bowl him. For two reasons: Dravid is by some distance the better batsman, and offspinners aren't meant to bowl fast legbreaks.

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