In a quest to gain a significant Net Run Rate (NRR) boost to keep their slim hope of a semi-final berth alive, India are taking on Scotland in Dubai on Friday (November 5) evening in a Group 2 fixture. Having played and lost twice at this venue, Virat Kohli & Co. by now at least understand that it is a two-paced wicket here, especially if you are bowling first on it.
With no swing whatsoever for the seamers upfront, bowling spin in the powerplay and in the middle overs has been a trend here as the turf favours that sort of bowling. Adam Zampa's five-for against Bangladesh on Thursday afternoon is the latest testament to this spin-heavy game plan for Dubai.
In all likelihood, India's game against the Scots will be played on the same surface. And it provides the Indians with an excellent opportunity to unleash a three-spinner strategy against a team that does not often get to face quality slow bowlers.
Well, the thought process of the Indian teams seemed to be on the same lines when Varun Chakravarthy became the only player to attend Team India’s optional training session on the eve of the Scotland game at the ICC academy ground. He missed the previous match against Afghanistan due to a left calf strain. In his place, Ravichandran Ashwin made a comeback in international white-ball cricket after a gap of four and a half years and took 2 for 14 in his four overs.
Now ideally, India want to see Chakravarthy back in the scheme of things. That is the reason why physio Nitin Patel and assistant trainer Soham Desai spent an hour or so with him on Diwali evening when all other cricketers gave the session a miss.
The 30-year-old mystery spinner started with usual fitness drills and a couple of rounds of light jogging. Later, he went through some sort of a mini fitness test and looked quite ok from a distance.
Even bowling coach Bharat Arun was present there, closely monitoring his progress. Later, Chakravarthy had a lengthy chat with him.
The mystery spin of Chakravarthy can be an asset for the Indian team if the bowler manages to regain fitness ahead of the match. On this tricky Dubai pitch, his stump-to-stump line can be pretty challenging for an inexperienced (at the highest level) Scottish batting unit. In fact, if there is dew, the ball will start to skid faster, giving the batters the least time to adjust, which will bring the leg before and bowled into play.
Incidentally, in their first Super 12 game of this T20 World Cup, Scotland were bundled out for 60 by the Afghan spinners while bowling second at Sharjah with Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan taking 9 for 29 in 6.2 overs in combined.
If India do go ahead with three frontline spin options of Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Chakravarty on Friday, one of the pacers need to sit out and Shardul Thakur is likely to face the axe following his below-par outings in the previous two matches.