Pace, not spin, the key to defeating India

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James Pattinson will play a key role in the next-gen Australian Test side. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

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If Australia believes picking an extra spinner is the solution to overcome Indian batting order, they are a long way off the mark.

India has rarely lost at home over the past two decades and when they have succumbed to a foreign team it has been largely due to the fast bowlers.

To be precise, India has lost 16 Test matches at home in the last 20 years, which means opposition teams have managed to take 20 Indian wickets 16 times. Of those 16 losses, the spinners have managed to take greater than seven of those 20 wickets on only three instances.

To drill further down, only one of these three instances has come in the last decade and that was on a pitch which would have made the Chennai dust bowl look like an Adelaide oval on day one.

India has only been outdone by pace and even when England played two quality spinners last year, they won the Calcutta Test on the back of 11 wickets taken between James Anderson and Steven Finn.

Australia’s other option is to play a left arm spinner instead of Nathan Lyon. This move will benefit Australia largely due to the fact the Indian top order are armed with plenty of right handers.

However, this is a theory Michael Clarke believes there is not much merit in:

“To be honest personally I don’t think it matters too much. Playing against India they are good players of spin and when you have good players of spin it means they are equally comfortable playing against the ball spinning in and leaving.”

Contrastingly, Indian skipper MS Dhoni thought playing two off spinners against the left-handed Australian top order gave them a benefit:

“When you have a spinner that takes the ball away from you he becomes an asset because he can attack the stumps all the time and also be helpful to contain the batsmen when the ball isn’t turning too much.”

They are completely different theories but, given the result of the Test match, Dhoni’s theory looks to be correct. Indian spinners took all 20 wickets and only five wickets fell to bowlers spinning the ball back in, while 15 yielded to the ball spinning away.

Perhaps there is a case for Xavier Doherty but history suggests not both. Hyderabad might not be a dust bowl as Chennai, with the red clay content unlikely to be seen, but be assured the pitch dished out will have turn and, to make things worse, it will be quick turn.

If that is the case, Doherty will rank higher than Lyon.

The way Clarke addressed the media after the match, chances are Australia will cave in to playing the two spinners, a method which does not work based on India’s defeats at home over the past two decades.

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