NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni relishes the sight of a visiting batsman at sea against the turning ball, prodding uncertainly and taking a hit to the rib cage.
It is an image he wants to see his spinners recreate against England next month.
The ignominy of last year’s 4-0 whitewash in England, which cost India their world number one status, appears fresh on the mind of the Indian skipper who hinted on Wednesday that turning pitches await England in the four-match test series starting in Ahmedabad on Nov 15.
“For a long time I have not seen an off-spinner bowling to a defensive batsman and hitting the rib cage,” Dhoni told reporters. “It’s a very painful feeling but you enjoy it...this is the heaven for spinners.”
“World over, you have different wickets behaving differently. Naturally when you come to the sub-continent, you get turning tracks.”
The Indian captain, who has led India to both the Twenty20 and 50 overs World Cups, said he had not specifically requested turning pitches.
“It’s not a question of asking for certain kind of tracks. Ultimately, the groundsman knows the wicket best. At times we do put in a requisition but ultimately we play on whatever is offered,” he said.
Former captain Sunil Gavaskar is among those who believe India’s job will not be easy against England in the absence of retired batting stalwarts Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. However, Dhoni remains confident.
“If you see it on paper, you don’t see the likes of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman...but it’s a side that is growing in confidence,” he said.
“We have seen the ODI format where we are doing really well and slowly it’s reflecting on all three formats of the game.”
The selectors will meet in Mumbai on Monday to pick the India team for the first test with Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh, returning from successful cancer treatment, locked in a battle for the number six slot in the batting order.
Yuvraj impressed in the current warmup match against England, following up a fluent 59 with the wickets of Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell but Dhoni said he was not sure if the all-rounder was fit yet for the rigours of test cricket.
“Sitting here, tough for me to say if Yuvraj is fit for five-day cricket. It’s not easy because of the uncertainty of five-day cricket,” Dhoni said.
“In 50 overs cricket, you know you won’t have to field for more than 50 overs. In tests, the first team may bat on and on...you may have to field for the first two days and it should not affect your batting. He is the best judge of it and he has played some four-day cricket.”
Editing by John Mehaffey