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Sachin Tendulkar details the art and nuance of spin bowling in rainy windy England

India vs New Zealand WTC Final: Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar talks about the tactics and skills needed to counter constantly changing overhead conditions in England.

Written by Devendra Pandey , Sandeep Dwivedi | Mumbai |
Updated: June 19, 2021 1:48:07 pm
SAchin TendulkarSachin Tendulkar gave his best wishes to India's Olympic-bound contingent (Instagram)

India has gone with two spinners for the World Test Championship final at Southampton that is likely to see several rain breaks. With the forecast predicting frequent showers all through the match, batting legend Sachin Tendulkar talks to The Indian Express about the tactics and skills needed to counter constantly changing overhead conditions.

Playing in rainy England

I have noticed that in England, one has to respect overhead conditions. In India or the sub-continent, it is the pitch condition that keeps changing. As the match unfolds, the pitch crumbles and the ball starts turning. In England when there is cloud cover, the surroundings change, something or the other starts to happen off the surface.

WTC final General view of the big screen during practice. (Reuters)

Two spinners in playing XI

If the surface demands that, then it’s absolutely fine. Both the spinners (Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja) can bat, they have got decent partnerships in the past. It won’t be out of place to play two spinners. Having said that, I am sitting in India miles away. There is high probability of rain for four-five days. The kind of surface they are playing on, it all depends on how much dampness there is on the surface or whether seamers are going to be effective or it will be the spinners. Only the players (in England) will know that. If it’s a normal pitch, something like Old Trafford, where one is sure that it will assist spinners, the three-two (three seamers, two spinners) combination has a strong case.

When and where to watch WTC final

Overcast conditions and spinners

Over the years, I have noticed something that nobody speaks about. People normally talk about spinners not getting enough assistance from the pitch or say there is hardly any purchase off the surface. But I feel that spinners are able to do a lot in the air, if the ball is well maintained – if one side is shiny, it can be used to get drift. If an off-spinner is bowling, he can take the ball away from the right-hander in the air or change the position of the shiny side and try to get the ball to drift into the batsman – that is towards the middle and leg-stump line. You don’t always need to deceive someone off the pitch by getting more turn or bounce, sometimes you can deceive them in the air also. This is what a quality spinner will be thinking. It is not always about the ball turning, taking the inside edge and going to short leg and the batsman getting dismissed. One can also get the ball to drift away in the air and get the batsman caught behind or in the slips. There are lots of such dismissals and a skilful spinner will always be able to do this.

Wind factor

There are times when there is cloud cover and wind is also blowing. These conditions can also help spinners. In case the wind is blowing from off to leg (for a right-hand batsman), we can bring a left-arm spinner from that end where there is a chance to get a right-hander bowled or LBW.

We can also get an outswing pacer from the other end (here drift will be from leg to off) or, for that matter, even an off-spinner who can get the ball to drift away from the right hander. If a left-hander is batting this end, he (the off-spinner) can come round the wicket and get the ball to drift in the air (into the batsman and turn away) and try to beat the batsman. All these elements come into play. Wind and atmosphere are important since they also impact the surface.

Team India Indian cricket team players pose for photographs ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final match against New Zealand, at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton. (PTI Photo)

Batting before and after rain

When there is cloud cover but no rain, the period is challenging because the ball doesn’t get wet. After the rain when they are looking to start the game, the outfield is still wet. The umpires and players don’t mind playing as long as the central square is dry. It’s all fine as long as the ball is not going outside the 30-yard circle since it is mostly dry. The moment the ball starts to travel to deep square-leg, third man, fine leg and deep point, there is a problem for the fielding side. The ball starts getting wet and stops moving. It may have a fraction of seam movement but swing will stop. That is what batsmen try to do post-rain. You try to make sure the ball gets outside the 30-yard circle. It is the imbalance of the ball that causes swing. That is the reason teams try to keep one side dry and one side shiny. The moment you have players touching the dry side with their palm, the moisture is absorbed by the leather. Once that happens, the imbalance is gone. In ODI matches whenever there is dew, the first few overs are critical ones. Bowlers will get the ball to swing early because after 8-10 overs, the swing stops as the ball starts to go outside the 30-yard circle.

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