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Cricket writers try very hard to report what they see at the nets faithfully, and objectively. This isn't always possible, with four bowlers and a machine propelling cricket balls simultaneously at five batsmen. Vital moments, quite often, reach the newspaper by means of second-hand observation. On Wednesday at the Motera, certain members of the sportswriting fraternity saw Ravichandran Ashwin bowl a leg break.
Did he? Did he not? Was it a leg break, or had the scribe in question failed to spot a googly? Who knows? But further fuel went down the funnel of speculation that Ashwin would unleash upon the visiting English batsmen a hitherto unseen variation - much like Saeed Ajmal's teesra last season in the UAE, a delivery so shrouded in mystery that no one quite knows whether or not they have seen it.
At the pre-match press conference, MS Dhoni fed this speculation a little more, when asked to compare Ajmal and Ashwin. "It is unfair to compare two different bowlers," Dhoni replied. "Ajmal has got a brilliant doosra, he is someone who generates a lot of pace when it comes to the ball that goes away from the right-hand batsman. Ashwin has also got variations. He can bowl almost each and every delivery that anyone can bowl. He has got the flipper, the googly, bowls legspin, offspin, the carrom ball."
Dhoni's tongue, at this point, might have threatened to split his cheek open.
From the moment England landed in India, spin has occupied an overwhelming share of pre-series talk — its threat, its paucity in the warm-up games, what form it will take in the Tests, how the visitors will combat it, whether conditions will favour it, and if so, by how much. In all this, expectations from Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, the likely spin attack India will field on Thursday, have grown to ridiculous proportions.