The doosra: One comeback man could follow another

As the opening day came to an end, Harbhajan Singh couldn't stop himself from having a quick glance at the Wankhede pitch. After a few minutes of close scrutiny, the off spinner rushed back to join his teammates for a football session.

It was the look of the surface that had prompted the Indian team to include Harbhajan in the eleven for the first time since Trent Bridge 16 months ago.

When Umesh Yadav was ruled out for the second Test, it was expected that Ishant Sharma would replace the injured pacer, but it was a three-spinner attack that India decided to throw at England.

Yadav's injury could prove a blessing in disguise for Harbhajan, who makes his 99th Test appearance on what seems a red-carpet track for spinners. On Day One, both Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann got the ball to turn and bounce from the word go.

Ripping it

Despite bowling quickly, with minimal flight, Panesar got the ball to rip off the surface, and took four wickets, bowling Sachin Tendulkar with a beauty that pitched on leg stump and hit off.

"Me and Swanny bowled well in tandem and provided each other with a platform," said Panesar. "There is a lot of turn and bounce on the wicket."

Harbhajan's off spin partner R Ashwin, who scored an unbeaten 60, was enthused by the bounce on offer.

"I don't think you can really plant your foot forward and keep defending. That's not going to be the case," he said. "Definitely, there is more aid for the spinners and there is more bounce in the wicket."

After the first Test in Ahmedabad, skipper MS Dhoni had cried foul over the pitch that they had played on. He praised his spinners but didn't have an appreciative word for the groundsmen. Despite bowling out England cheaply in the first innings, the Indian spinners had to toil hard after making them follow on. The Ojha-Ashwin combine bowled 146 overs and didn't get too much time to rest between matches. Harbhajan coming in should ease their workload a little. Dhoni's wish for a turning track has been granted, and now he has a third spinner with more than 400 Test wickets.

... contd.

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