Ojha and Ashwin are Dhoni's trump cards in the Test series against England

ojhashwin290The first Test match between India and England went on expected lines. India after winning the toss elected to bat first and the batsmen did their job to put up a huge total while the bowlers (especially the spinners) did wonderfully well to pick the opposition's 20 wickets.

The only thing that must have surprised the Indians would have been the resilience the Englishmen showed in their second innings. After being asked to follow-on, England batsmen lead by their captain Alastair Cook did well to stretch the match to the last day, forcing the Indian batsmen to come out to bat again. But overall, it was a good match for the Indians and almost everything went according to India's plan.

Before the Test series, it was expected that all the four matches will be played on turning tracks. Nothing suprising! However the tactics of not playing any regular spinner in the practice matches was new and it  seemed to have worked.

Now a lot depends on how Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin bowl in this tournament. India's success will be directly proportional to how well these spinners bowl in the remaining matches. It did make sense about Dhoni not wanting to expose his spinners before the Tests. They are his prime weapons and the first Test shows that they are the biggest obstacle for England if they have to make a mark in the series.

Let’s have a look at the role that the two spinners played in India’s nine-wicket win over England. India declared at 521/8, a little after tea on day two. Dhoni once again threw a surprise by opening the bowling attack with R Ashwin at one end. Graeme Swann picking five wickets in the first innings showed that there was turn from the start and Dhoni wasted no time in bringing a spinner.

Together Ashwin and Ojha bowled 49.2 overs out of the 74.2 that the Indian team bowled in the first innings. They picked eight wickets and looked unplayable at times. The way they caught English batsmen on the wrong foot was very impressive.Cook was made to drive and was caught at slip, Pietersen got beaten by a delivery that pitched on leg and took his off stump, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott were deceived in flight, while Prior got bowled trying to play an inside-out shot. All these were classical spinners dismissals.

Dhoni asked England to follow-on which is always tough for the bowlers as they have to ball continuously for two innings. This time around Ojha got the new ball. The pitch had slowed up immensely and things got difficult for the bowlers. The ball was spinning and it was slow turn. England got off to a good start and the Indian spinners looked tired.

Zaheer Khan got the first wicket and Ojha got in his stride after that. He produced a brilliant delivery to get Trott out when he looked good. He then beat Pietersen in flight and bowled him for the second time in the match. Both Ashwin and Ojha ensured that England does not get quick runs when they had the partnership going. Ojha took both Cook and Prior very early on the fifth day to ensure that there was no panic in the team.

In the second innings, Ojha bowled 55 overs and Ashwin bowled 43 and together they took 5 English wickets.

The first Test is the pure indication that these two man have to do a lot of work in the upcoming three matches. Ojha took the cherry in this match but no one can underestimate Ashwin, who has a tremendous record bowling in India.

There is no doubt that England batsmen will have to be on their toes against these two crafty spinners or else things will get pretty ugly for them.

By Indian Sports News Network