'Our batters have struggled' - former India players, selectors not in favour of turning tracks for BGT 2023
The advice to the Indian team management from the outside by prominent names within the circuit is to ask for balanced pitches and not raging turners for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, starting February 9.
Former India cricketers and selectors reckon turning tracks "could backfire" on the current Indian team that has experienced problems against spin over the past few years.
However, a sporting pitch that turns sharply later in the Tests, would expose the difference in quality between the Indian and Aussie spinners and ease the life a little bit for the Indian batters.
Ex India left-arm spinner turned commentator Murali Karthik, who has been following the Test team for a while, believes a flat deck that turns only slowly for the first three days atleast would make more sense tactically.
'Rank turners could backfire' - former India players, selectors
"Playing spinners on a flat deck isn't the problem. We must admit that our batters have struggled against quality spin bowling on tracks that have offered turn. I don't know what kind of tracks will be in the offing but rank turners could backfire," Karthik told the Times of India.
Karthik's words get vindicated in view of India's recent Test trip to Bangladesh, where India comfortably defeated the hosts on a traditional subcontinent surface in Chattogram but struggled and just about managed to cross the line on a spiteful pitch in Dhaka. Chasing 145, India lost their seven wickets for 74 before a great partnership between R Ashwin and Shreyas Iyer with the old ball took them through.
The pitch preparation will also make the choice of the third spinner important. With Ravindra Jadeja capable of batting at No.7, India get the chance to bolster their attack with five options and pick a third spinner. In contention to bag the slot are Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav and former India selector Jatin Paranjape believes it should be the left-arm spinner Patel with his relentless nature that finds the nod.
"For me, there is no debate that Axar Patel should be India's third spinner with (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja. The form in which he has been and on wickets that will be on offer, Axar is a straightforward choice," Paranjape said.
Former cricketer and ex selector Devan Gandhi concurred with Paranjape and backed Patel to deliver the goods as a third spinner after a tremendous year and a half at the Test level.
"Look, if you have a track that starts breaking right away, then Axar is a better choice than Kuldeep. Kuldeep will release the ball from the back of his hand and hence flight more," said Gandhi.
"On tracks where the ball starts turning square, he will have a propensity to get hit. Also, when he tries bowling flatter, he tends to go a little shorter. In case of Axar, on turners, he hits the immaculate length. Also being a left-hander, he will add variety in the lower middle-order," he added.