By BV Swagath
The gameplan of India is simple and plainly not expected to be innovative at all. The homeside will be unleashing its spinners on a tailor-made surface for the Second Test at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in the outskirts of Hyderabad. The Curator of the Hyderabad pitch is reported to be more than happy to take the orders from MS Dhoni unlike the old man at Kolkata – Prabir Mukherjee who dominated all the news prior to a Test match against England recently.
So what we could have at Hyderabad is a pitch full of cracks thanks to a couple of days’ exposure under the hot sun prior to the Test match. Whatever grass on the pitch that was there before the arrival of MS Dhoni, would have been shaved off to look as bald as Sanath Jayasuriya. We should not be surprised if the pitch starts taking turn right from the first ball of the match.
There will be a difference between the Chennai pitch and the one at Hyderabad. The Chennai surface was very powdery and dusty, and had a very dirty look to it. In Hyderabad, the surface might look good to the eye but it could be the cracks that will play all the tricks once they get wider and wider under the sun. And it is quite hot in Hyderabad, so the pitch should take a lot of beating.
The Hyderabadi pitch is likely to have better pace and bounce than the sluggish pitch at Chennai where at times even a number 11 batsman like Nathan Lyon was difficult to be dismissed. For India’s spin strategy to become successful, the batsmen will have to pile up a big total as they did in Chennai. The Aussie attack will not pose much challenge for the Indians like the Englishmen with Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann did. I suspect the visitors could add left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty in the place of Peter Siddle.
The good news for Team India is that the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are amongst the runs. Shikhar Dhawan could get a game ahead of Murali Vijay and the one batsman who will be eagerly looking to come good will be the dangerous Virender Sehwag. In the bowling department, Pragyan Ojha is expected to take the place of the ineffective Harbhajan Singh. Ideally, Ishant Sharma has to give way to Dinda as the former has been really disappointing with his pace and lack of wicket taking abilities.