India erred in not playing Ojha: Ganguly
Adelaide: With India looking down the barrel yet again, former captain Sourav Ganguly feels the struggling visitors should have played two spinners in the ongoing fourth and final Test against Australia as the conditions here appear to be "closest to subcontinent".
Captain Michael Clarke (140) and Ricky Ponting (137) struck unbeaten centuries to power Australia to 335 for three at stumps on day 1 after winning the toss.
And Ganguly was quick to point out that stand-in India skipper Virender Sehwag made a mistake by not playing left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha in the match.
"Looking at the pitch in the morning, I felt India should have gone in with two spinners as the combination of three quicks had not been able to put enough pressure on the Aussie batting as one of them have faltered at some stage or the other in the series," Ganguly wrote in his column for `The Age`.
"Not only have the Indian quicks not picked up wickets but they haven`t stemmed the flow of runs and that`s why Pragyan Ojha would have been a good choice on this pitch.”
"The pitches in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth had a lot more movement and this one was the closest to subcontinent conditions. He (Ojha) is a very good bowler in all conditions and deserved to play this Test, as with time in such heat this pitch will start turning," he added.
Citing the example of Ravichandran Ashwin`s (2/81) early exploits in the match, the cricketer-turned-commentator said Ojha would have been a good option for Sehwag on this track.
"Even more so after lunch India could have made good use of his (Ojha`s) services. The other spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, bowled a lot better here then he has throughout the series. He looked in control until Ponting and Clarke got after him in the hour before tea and Sehwag would have loved to have the option of another spinner once that shine went off the new ball.”
"That Ashwin bowled so many overs on day one of the Test is a clear indication that Ojha would have been handy on this surface," Ganguly insisted.
The former left-handed batsman lauded the efforts of Clarke and Ponting and said the pair have become a thorn in India`s flesh in the series.
"It`s the same pair of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke who hurt India on the first day of the Adelaide Test. They did it in Sydney and once again here in a similar situation.”
"For me it was a Punter (Ponting) and Clarke show all the way. Ponting has been outstanding throughout the series but probably batted his best here. It`s his favourite hunting ground and he has scored four consecutive hundreds against India at this venue, which is a remarkable achievement for any batsman," Ganguly said.
Ganguly had words of appreciation for veteran Zaheer Khan, who has by far been India`s best bowler in the series.
"It amazes me how many times Zaheer gets through the left-handers` defence. He is a class act and has a huge psychological advantage when bowling to left-handers around the world," he said.
"From the outside it seems that the batsman knows what is coming, picks what is on offer, but somehow gets beaten by it. Modern cricket teams have so much help in terms of technology and I`m sure batters keep watching it over and over again, but they don`t seem to have an answer," he added.