Hyderabad, Jan 24: India always relish quality spin options, when playing in the subcontinent. Even abroad, Indian spinners over the years, have tested quality opposition batters with their guile and variations.
India captain Rohit Sharma on eve of the First Test against England, here, did admit on Wednesday that selecting the third spinner was a real tough headache for the team management. However, he did not openly reveal who he would prefer in the playing XI.
The Indian captain was all praise for the two tough contenders Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav, who compete for the third spinner spot based on their excellent recent performances.
Understandably, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the two seasoned war horses would lead the spin attack. They are the best spin twins in world cricket. On subcontinent tracks, they definitely are very difficult to negotiate.
The duo has played a magnificent role in India's enviable Test record at home in last decade. The last time India lost a Test series at home was against Alastair Cook led English side in 2012.
Despite all the tall claims about England's recent 'Bazball' (ultra aggressive approach) in Tests, Rohit Sharma's men hold the edge at home conditions. Their spin attack is one of their most potent weapon against any opposition at home.
As of Rohit's remarks on the third spinner selection, he did praise Kuldeep's recent splendid performances across formats as a bowler. But he too clarified that Axar is different from Jadeja, though both are left-arm spinners.
Besides, India may be tempted to rope in Axar for his batting prowess. If that aspect is taken into account once again, then Axar will pip Kuldeep one more time to walk into the playing XI.
With England missing services of young off-spinner Shoaib Bashir in first Test due to visa issues, it would be veteran Jack Leach to lead the pack of young English spinners against a formidable Indian batting line-up.
But India without the veterans trio of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, will have to bat really well again. They have to apply themselves well and treat Test cricket different from shorter white-ball formats.
Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (now freed from keeping duties) and others have to prove that they don't get influenced by England's 'Bazball' approach in batting.
The series in all likelihood, will provide wicket-keeper KS Bharat yet another opportunity to cement his place in the Test side, in absence of special talent Rishav Pant, who is terribly missed in Indian team.
If India can play Ravi Ashwin all the five Tests, he will be completing his 100 Test match appearance milestone. Besides, Ashwin is also nearing 500 Test wickets. Jadeja too is nearing a few career milestones.
In short, the five-Test series would be an interesting battle between aggressive English batting approach against quality Indian spinners. But despite all the hype, India have to really bat well and put on board tall scores, to allow their spinners dominate England.
However, under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, England have done well in recent time. They too would be eager to create history. Former captain Joe Root and the current skipper Stokes will continue to fight and also inspire the youngsters to stand tall against Indian bowlers.
Overall, let's expect good cricket, new records and new positives for Team India. After early exit in ODI World Cup 2023, England too would be keen to do well in India and salvage some pride.