England may walk into India spin-trap

When India meet England in a high-profile World Cup match in Bangalore on Sunday, it will not be surprising if they name a second specialist spinner in their playing eleven.

Updated: February 23, 2011 19:18 IST
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New Delhi: When India meet England in a high-profile World Cup match in Bangalore on Sunday, it will not be surprising if they name a second specialist spinner in their playing eleven.

Spinners have caught the eye in early matches on low, slow pitches, with Zimbabwe going to the extreme of using five slow men to make defending champions Australia struggle for runs in Ahmedabad on Monday.

The performances of Zimbabwean spinners Raymond Price, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer, who conceded 127 in a combined tally of 30 overs, against a formidable batting line-up will surely encourage captains to turn to spin.

India went with three seamers and one specialist spinner (Harbhajan Singh) in the opening game against Bangladesh, but realised they were short of one quality spinner after paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth leaked 53 in five overs.

They did not have to pay dearly for Sreesanth's off-day as they had already posted a massive 370-4, a total they successfully defended.

But the hosts need to be on their toes against England, having excellent batsmen.

England skipper Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott smashed half-centuries in their team's win against the Netherlands on Tuesday, but off-spinner Graeme Swann's contribution with the ball was equally important.

Swann illustrated the significance of spin when he finished with 2-35 off 10 disciplined overs.

England will face their first big spin test against India as the hosts are likely to include either leg-spinner Piyush Chawla or off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

"It's still very early in the tournament but India need to get their bowling sorted," former India leg-spinner Anil Kumble wrote in a newspaper column.

"If they are looking to use Sreesanth up the order, then he has to get them wickets, otherwise, they need to rethink their strategy."

Chawla, 22, has emerged a strong contender for a second spinner's slot after his match-winning performance against Ricky Ponting's Australians in a warm-up game in Bangalore where he grabbed 4-31 off nine overs.

The leg-spinner, who returned to the one-day side in South Africa after more than two years out, has already earned lavish praise from his skipper.

"A leg-spinner can really trouble batsmen. Chawla turns the odd one and has a very good 'wrong'un'. He is consistent with line and length. Also, it gives you more options," said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"One of the reasons for his selection was our need to have a spinner who can bat a bit. It's a bit of headache whom to play and whom not to play with the kind of talent we have in the team."

Chawla, who made his one-day debut against Bangladesh in 2007, has so far grabbed 28 wickets in 22 matches.

India also have good part-time slow bowlers in Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan and Virender Sehwag.

India are expected to go into the match with only two specialist seamers -- Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel.

Captains have used spinners differently in early stages of the tournament in a bid to wrong-foot the opposition.

Zimbabwe skipper Elton Chigumbura and New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori opened the attack with a spinner in their matches against Australia and Kenya, respectively.

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