Dhoni’s dilemma: Ishant or Dinda on pitch likely to assist pacers
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In Mumbai, MS Dhoni opted to go with three spinners on a wicket that turned and jumped, side stepping the question of who would be Umesh Yadav's pace replacement. The track at Eden Gardens is not expected to give the spinners as much assistance and it is expected that India will revert to a two-two pace-spin combination. With Yadav ruled out, who will partner Zaheer Khan remains to be seen.
"I don't think there will be much help for the spinners initially. At this time of the year, fast bowlers get some swing at the start of the play and towards the end. Fast bowlers will be really crucial," Dhoni said on the eve of the match.
Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda are the options that he has. Both bowled for about 20 minutes each in the nets on the match eve under the watch of bowling coach Joe Dawes and Duncan Fletcher. Ideally, there shouldn't be a debate over Ishant's inclusion in the playing XI. But the Delhi pacer is woefully short on game time.
After his ankle injury in Australia earlier this year which saw him miss the limited-overs leg of the tour, he has played just two first class matches. In the Irani Cup, he claimed wickets against Rajasthan and then in the Ranji Trophy opener against Uttar Pradesh he sent down 36 overs and picked up three wickets for 129 runs.
In the Test series prior to his injury, he had taken just five wickets in 125.3 overs, while going at close to four an over.
Dinda had been excellent on the domestic circuit last season, ending as the highest wicket taker in all competitions with Last season he was the highest wicket-taker with 72 scalps in all competitions. He started off the new season with a bang as well, decimating South Zone with a seven-wicket burst in the semi final of the Duleep Trophy. However, his first three Ranji matches this season have yielded just seven wickets. With the series in the balance, the team management might prefer to go with the tried and tested Ishant. Then again, Dinda's familiarity with the conditions at Eden Gardens could count in his favour too.
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