Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth January 12, 2012

India mulling rare all-pace attack


India could take the rare step of playing four fast bowlers on a green WACA track. That was the only change the visitors were pondering to the combination that lost the first two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.

VVS Laxman was never going to get dropped, but there were question marks over the persistence with Virat Kohli. However, in the lead-up to the third Test, Kolhi batted extensively in the nets, a clear sign that Rohit Sharma is unlikely to debut. On match eve, Rohit bowled for a long time before getting a few throw downs towards the end of the training session.

When asked if the nature of the pitch, expected to be about 20% quicker and bouncier than when India last played a Test in Perth, would change the team combination the captain MS Dhoni said it was likelier to happen in the bowling attack.

"We have to see how much grass is there [in the morning], and whether the spinner will get any kind of assistance," Dhoni said. "Accordingly the bowling department will be structured depending on the wicket."

India have not played four quicks in a Test since the SCG Test of 1991-92, when debutant Subroto Banerjee joined Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar and Javagal Srinath in the bowling department. Allrounder Ravi Shasrti was the only spinner. If India go for all-pace in Perth, they are likely to do so with only the part-timer Virender Sehwag as a spin option. In his only Test here, Sehwag bowled Adam Gilchrist round his legs during a two-wicket cameo.

This is the second time in two overseas tours that India are 2-0 down. The previous time they were whitewashed in England, and a similar result has been talked about ever since they were dismissed for 191 on the first day in Sydney. Dhoni said India were in a better space here than they were in England.

"At times you lose a few series," he said. "You lose a few games. As long as you are competing it is good. That's what you are supposed to do. At the end of the day, the team that has played consistently good cricket over the period will win the series or the game. In England, to some extent, we didn't compete to the extent we should have."

When asked if a whitewash in Australia would hurt more than the one in England, Dhoni joked that there was no better way of dying. He expected better, though. "We want to get back in this series," he said. "[In] England we weren't really there, so we didn't really perform to our potential. We have learned a lot from that series. We have learned a lot from this series also. Just that we need to implement it in the next two Test matches."

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy is still at stake. India are the holders, and they will retain it if the series is drawn. However, it is a big ask to expect them to win the next two Tests. The various critics of the team don't expect them to do so, but Dhoni said the external criticism - of his captaincy, of the team unity, of their "fragility" - didn't affect them much.

"It is easier to look from outside, and comment on particular decisions," he said. "More often than not you have seen the result, and then comment on it. It's not about taking the best decision because more often than not the best decision depends on what happens after the time the decision has been taken. It's always about taking the good decision at the right time; honestly that's what I try to do. At times I go wrong, at times I don't go wrong. People feel I went wrong. It's part and parcel of leading a side."

There have been barbs at how some players went go-karting soon after a loss, and Michael Slater said recently that he felt India weren't hurting enough from the defeats. Dhoni said they were not going to weep for hours at the ground if that's what hurting meant.

"We are among the sides that practise a lot," he said. "We have been trying to reduce the hours in practice. We have not been able to do that. We are one side that spends close to four hours every day during the net sessions. We try to give the guys rest as much as possible. So all these recreational activities really help doing that."

About Brad Haddin's comments that the Indian players turn on each other easily, Dhoni said it was just his imagination. "As far as fights are concerned, I have never seen an Indian team fight," he said. "It's something that's happening after a few beers with the opposition. They are just sitting and dreaming of it. It has not happened. That's one thing we are really proud of. When we speak about the dressing-room atmosphere, and how we love each other's success, that has been the real strength of the Indian cricket team. And I don't see it moving in any other direction"

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Al_Bundy1 on January 14, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    If India wants to approve, they have to fire the big 3 - Tendulkar, Dravid, and Laxman. Those 3 should have retired gracefully, but now they are making a fool of themselves. For the next test, Rohit Sharma needs to replace Laxman. Also Ishant Sharma needs to go. He is still living off his exploits from 3-4 years ago. And please, no more Vinay or Mithun. Bowlers like Ashok Dinda, Taduri Sharma, or Irfan Pathan, who did well in the recent Ranji Trophy should be given a chance.

  • pritpalpabla on January 14, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    Stupid thinking by Dhoni... Though Ashwin was a better option than Vinay in bowling but he is also good in batting as well.. With Ashwin Indian 1st ing total could have been close to 200+ In this tour of Aussie, Indians are lacking fighters in their team like Bhajji and Ganguly....

  • dabbsy111 on January 13, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    @Antriksh Saal & @er.Vaibhav - maybe i should have gone further than just "pace" being the operative word. India lack a QUALITY pace attack (how many of them are 90+mph regularly? and even so, what's the point if you are "erratic"??). and I can't believe you are trying to tell me any of the Indian bowlers make people worried about facing them?? Even on pitches that offer loads to "quick" bowlers they cannot do anything and are continually shown up by their opposition. It must be horrendous for Indian "quicks" at the moment - brought up and force fed horrendously flat wickets in India and then get hammered all over the world on pitches which should be perfect for them.

  • sammysam on January 13, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    Dhoni is right.. India never fight on the cricket field. they collapse like a pack of cards. Dhoni also says 'as long as we are competing, it is good'. Ask yourself, honestly have you seen India competing in Aus? Its going to be 3-0 with more go karting to come in Adelaide.

  • Silloh on January 13, 2012, 0:30 GMT

    Alway risky to go into into a test without a specialist spinner. Sure one can rely on your fast bowlers if you have real fast bowlers like Ambrose , Holding , Marshal , Garner and Roberts of the great West Indian era. The current Indian team has medium pace bowlers only at best. Zaheer Khan is effectively leading by far above the rest. Unless India plans to omit their current fairly ineffective spinner as Harbhajan is resting at home. Good luck to both teams for a great test match.

  • dummy4fb on January 13, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    Mahendra Singh Dhoni will prove his worth in the coming two matches. Just watch. He is a man of exceptional quality guys. He will prove all of you wrong.

  • SanjivAwesome on January 13, 2012, 0:11 GMT

    Why just change the bowling dept based on the pitch conditions? MSD should change the batters too because of the pitch conditions. My reasons - because Virat, VVS and Sehwag are huge liabilities on a green pitch.

  • Meety on January 12, 2012, 23:51 GMT

    I think Ashwin has to play, @#8 in the batting line up, he has saved India from further embarrassment. Indian fans have to realise, that whilst India are kings of spin in India, Oz batsmen have pretty much bossed spinners since WWII (over 60yrs). Even great Indian spinners like Kumble & Prassanna etc, haven't found life easy here.

  • kmgnath on January 12, 2012, 23:31 GMT

    Indians failed misireably until this match. The only problem is the openers, India has always performed well when the opening stand is good. There is one more problem, Dravid's tentetive stands at the crease. Is it because , he is expecting short pitched ball next?. Sachin is in great form, I haven't seen him in this form earlier. Can we expect 400 from him? answer is YES and NO. YES --> such a great from, once openers give decent start and see off the new ball, or somebody gives partnerships. NO --> Sachin has predetermine shots once he think he is seeing the ball well, which makes his down fall, on the other hand, Shewag playes the ball on the merit in his own way. Can I expect something from Indian team? sure, either they win this match or heads to roll. My strong bet is on the Indian Opening Batting pair, if they perform well and see of the new ball then, India can perform well. MSD captaincy is very sick in test cricket, may be because of old players on the field.

  • redneck on January 12, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    i think thats a good move by india except ashwins the only tail ender thats been able to hold a bat so far this tour. never thought id see the day india walked out onto a cricket field without a front line spinner. they are selling their part time bowling short in the article though, i wouldnt be suprised if dhoni gave dravid the gloves and had a trundle himself and sachin used to bowl so im sure he still can.

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