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by Partab Ramchand
Oct 20, 2006
In their first World Cup match against England in 1975 the Indians fielded four medium pacers and only one spin bowler in skipper S Venkatraghavan. Teams playing limited overs cricket in those days, particularly in England, tended to opt for this top-heavy seam attack since the role of spinners was believed to be limited in the one-day game. By aping this policy the Indians learnt a bitter lesson. England rattled up 334 for four in 60 overs on their way to an emphatic 202-run victory. To be fair to the team management they took cognizance of the unhappy events and for the next game against East Africa dropped a medium pacer and brought in Bishen Bedi to partner the captain. The result? India had their first World Cup victory a runaway ten-wicket win and Bedi's figures were a remarkable 12-8-6-1. Even against little fancied teams it isn't every time that a bowler ends up with this sort of analysis.In any case Bedi proved that spinners had a major role to play in limited overs cricket at least from an Indian perspective by having figures of 12-6-28-1 even against a much stronger New Zealand side. So soon then was it proved that as far as Indian cricket was concerned pace and spin had an equal role to play for any kind of success in the limited overs game. It is almost always sound strategy to play two specialist spin bowlers and the latest match to underscore the success of this theory was the Champions Trophy encounter against England the other day at Jaipur when Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Powar played a stellar role in bottling up the Englishmen before skittling them out. With the discovery of more and more fast bowlers the tendency has been to play three seamers and only one specialist spinner with part time bowlers sending down the remaining ten overs. This policy can perhaps be understood if pursued in England and Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. But on sub continental pitches and particularly in India it is always better to have two specialist spinners in the starting line up. It will be observed that the two fairly successful World Cup campaigns in the sub continent in 1987 and 1996 the Indian team made it to the semifinals on both occasions - came about when two spinners were fielded in the playing eleven. Nineteen years ago Ravi Shastri and Maninder Singh were in the forefront of things while a decade ago it was Anil Kumble and Venkatpathi Raju (or Aashish Kapoor) on duty. And in the Hero Cup triumph in 1993 the duo of Kumble and Rajesh Chauhan were on duty for almost every match. Though the dominance was much less marked, even during the heady days of 1983 and 1985 in England and Australia spin did have a role to play in the ultimate triumph. Of course given the conditions in England it was always on the cards that the faster bowlers would have more of a say during the triumphant World Cup campaign but Shastri and even Kirti Azad (in the famous semifinal against England) performed their roles admirably. Two years later of course Shastri and L Sivaramakrishnan had an equal share of the spoils in the World Championship of Cricket triumph in Australia. In the last few years the advent of batsmen who can turn their arms over quite effectively has been the vogue. Sachin Tendulkar has been fulfilling this role commendably for a long time now but it has been the likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Mongia who have given their captain a number of options. Whether in the NatWest Trophy victory in England in 2002, the sharing of the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka later the same year or in the World Cup campaign in South Africa in 2003 where India quite unexpectedly made it to the title clash the part time bowlers have performed their roles admirably and, interestingly enough, all are spinners. `Spin to win' has been the mantra to win matches in Test cricket. It has always been said that the traditionally rich Indian spin tradition must never be neglected even if pace bowling should be encouraged. A proper balance can always be achieved and this should be the case in one-day cricket too more so in matches played in this country. (Article: Copyright © 2006 CricketArchive - syndicated to dreamcricket.com)
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