The hindsight to India's comprehensive win in the Chennai Test last week is that just one bowler and two batsmen touched the international performance bar, and had R Ashwin not recorded his career best match haul of 12 wickets, India could have struggled to bowl out Australia twice.
Spinners bowled 193 of the 226 overs India sent down in the two Australian innings in Chennai - 103 out of 133 in the first innings and a staggering 90 out of 93 in the second, when Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh opened bowling on the MA Chidambaram dust bowl.
But while Ashwin's 74 overs in the match returned him figures of 12 for 198, Harbhajan continued to struggle to impress on his Test comeback with meagre earnings of 3 for 142 off 52 overs. Ravindra Jadeja - the third spinner who played in Chennai - did little better than Harbhajan with returns of 5 for 143 in 67 overs he bowled in the match. That certainly rings a bell, suggesting Ashwin saved the day for MS Dhoni and India after they decided to drop Pragyan Ojha.
Ojha was the leading wicket-taker for India with 20 wickets in the series against England, indicating that on his day he can run through a side. But still Dhoni preferred Jadeja's limited skills to spin and bat over Ojha's wicket-taking expertise. Considering Jadeja's average contribution in Chennai, Ojha should be an obvious choice for the second Test in Hyderabad starting this Saturday.
India certainly can't risk their 1-0 lead in the four-Test series going in with just one in-form bowler and pacers who are there only to provide variations than take wickets on 'made-to-order' pitches for the Indian spinners. And Ojha perfectly fits that block.
A left-arm spinner who can bat as an allrounder at number seven was what brought Jadeja into the eleven in Chennai, but considering how disappointing Jadeja proved with the bat and how surprisingly well Bhuvneshwar Kumar wielded the willow in his debut Test, the medium pacer deserves his skipper's confidence and elevation to number eight, behind Ashwin. More importantly, it will allow India to play a fifth specialist bowler in Ojha.
Noted cricket writer Suresh Menon quiet aptly summarises the catch 22 with Jadeja and Dhoni's efforts to fix it. "Ravindra Jadeja for a while now has been seen as a batsman when he is bowling and dismissed as a bowler when he is batting. It is a cruel joke, but Dhoni seems determined to change that."
If that holds true, then don't be surprised to see two left-arm spinners playing in Hyderabad - just like two offspinners did in Chennai - at the expense of Harbhajan.
Do you think Pragyan Ojha will return to the eleven for the second Test against Australia?
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