Not much for spin, especially from overseas
The lacklustre performance of the spinners was a talking point in the first Test, with Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh way below their best and Cameron White, though exceeding expectations, barely troubling the Indian batsmen. However, the reputation of the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali- where Australia haven't played a Test- won't encourage them too much; it's among the least favourable venues for spin in India.
Of seven Tests in Mohali, India have lost one - the first there, against West Indies- and won two, both against England. Kumble and Harbhajan took 25 of the 40 wickets in those two wins and India will look for a similar performance from them over the next five days.
Since 2000, Mohali has witnessed two comprehensive victories and two high-scoring draws. Kumble and Harbhajan, along with Munaf Patel, have played vital roles in the wins over England in 2001 and 2006, but their averages at the venue - 30 for Kumble and 34.2 for Harbhajan - are still significantly higher than their averages in home Tests.
|Bowler||Matches||Wickets||Average||Matches won by India||Wickets||Average|
Mohali's been considered as conducive to fast bowling, but for India both seamers and spinners have done equally well - or worse. The quicker bowlers - both Indian and visiting - have averaged around 37 per wicket. What brings down the overall record for spinners is the performance of overseas spinners. They have taken 21 wickets at 57.04; in contrast the Indian spinners have picked 59 at 34.81.
Unlike in Bangalore, India's batting line-up has excelled in Mohali; it's the only Test ground in India where each of India's top six batsmen average over 50. VVS Laxman tops the list with an average of 128.50 in three Tests, while Sachin Tendulkar, who has played all the seven Tests at this venue, averages 51.
The pitch in Mohali tends to aid the bowlers, especially seamers, on the first day, but eases out as the game progresses. Sides batting first average 36 per wicket in the first innings, 41.51 in the second innings, and 46.78 in the third; however, it drops to 33.27 in the fourth . A case in point is the Test against New Zealand in 1999, when India were bowled out for 83, only to score 515 for 9 in their second attempt and set their opponents an imposing target. However, in their wins at the ground, India have succeeded in bowling out England cheaply in the third innings, winning by ten wickets in 2001 and nine wickets in 2006.
|Span||1st innings||2nd innings||3rd innings||4th innings|
India have fielded first in Mohali six times in seven games. Both of India's wins have come batting second; the home team has won the the toss thrice and fielded each time. Given that the side batting second has gained a first innings lead five out of seven times, scoring on average 150 runs more than its opponent, the two captains might consider putting the opposition in on the first day.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo