Finger spinners may find it tough in cold Dharamsala

A curious matter would be how the spinners, especially of the finger variety, would remain effective in unusually cold conditions in Dharamsala at this time of the year.
Last Updated 05 March 2024, 13:49 IST

Dharamsala: After a well-deserved week's break following an unassailable 3-1 lead over England, Indian players trooped in for practice in full strength, ahead of the fifth and final Test, here on Tuesday.

The biting cold conditions in the morning, made worse by a steady breeze, gave way to slightly warm weather as the sun appeared from behind the breathtaking snow-capped mountains.

While everything looked normal as the home players went through their session, the long batting stint for Mukesh Kumar at the beginning of the "nets" was puzzling given the fact that the pacer had little chance of being in the 11, more so after Jasprit Bumrah's return.

Bumrah, meanwhile, went about his business troubling all comers with the new ball. There was little sign of rust despite over two weeks' break from cricket as he was rested after the third Test as part of workload management.

One of the more interesting aspects of India's practice was if the hosts would let out any cue as to who would be the preferred choice at No. 5 after Rajat Patidar's struggles in the last five innings. Patidar came into the side after KL Rahul was ruled out due to pain in the quadriceps. The Madhya Pradesh batter had slammed 111 and 151 against the visiting England Lions for India A but after a bright but short first innings in Visakhapatnam, the 30-year-old has had scores of 9, 5, 0, 17 and 0. 

Devdutt Padikkal was injected into the squad following a run of four hundreds and a half-century in his last nine innings for Karnataka in Ranji Trophy and for India A. The pre-match talk has been surrounding the two batters - "whether Patidar will get another chance or Padikkal will get his Test debut?" One, however, couldn't make anything from the proceedings at the "nets" as both padded at the same time and batted simultaneously.                             

Another curious matter would be how the spinners, especially of the finger variety, would remain effective in the unusually cold conditions here at this time of the year. R Ashwin weighed in on the conditions wherein England players could feel more at home than Indians.  

"21 years ago, I was here for two months and played U-19 cricket," he said when asked as to how much they have to rely on their fingers rather than the surface here. "I have played a first-class game for TN which I fondly remember. I have also played a couple of matches for CSK. It's pretty cold here. It will take a bit of time for the fingers to adjust. This is a little colder than what it usually is in March. We haven't got a lot of practice here. That's the beauty. There are a lot of unknowns. Sometimes even when you are playing in India, it looks like an away game for you."

(Published 05 March 2024, 13:49 IST)

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