Talk­ing up the spin doc­tors

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

IN­DIA sur­prised friend and foe to claim the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy in the UK four years ago.

Even with heavy rain sweep­ing across Birm­ing­ham for most of the fi­nal, MS Dhoni hauled out his spin­ners to tie Eng­land into a spite­ful web.

For so long teams from the sub­con­ti­nent had come over to Eng­land ex­pect­ing a past­ing, ow­ing to both the clouds above and grass un­der­foot that pro­motes swing and seam bowl­ing.

In­dia’s en­deav­ours were, of course, aided by ex­cel­lent work from the Edg­bas­ton ground staff who man­aged to keep the pitch bone dry, which al­lowed Ravin­dra Jadeja and Ravichan­dran Ash­win to make the ball turn, bounce and spit like they do so splen­didly back home.

The 2017 edi­tion is set to be played at the­same three venues this time around, and not at Lord’s where Kag­iso Rabada and Co pros­pered on a green-tinged pitch on Mon­day that had Eng­land cap­tain Eoin Mor­gan – a ca­su­alty from that 2013 fi­nal defeat – crit­i­cis­ing the sur­face af­ter his team were re­duced to 20/6 within the first five overs.

So, ex­pect the cu­ra­tors at the Oval, Edg­bas­ton and Sophia Gar­dens to haul out their lawn­mow­ers to en­sure all their pitches are de­void of any grass, es­pe­cially with Mor­gan specif­i­cally point­ing out af­ter Mon­day’s defeat: “I’d be dis­ap­pointed if we did come across sur­faces like that in the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy. There was a lot of live, green grass on the wicket.”

This, in turn will only in­crease the spin­ners’ sig­nif­i­cance in this up­com­ing Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, with cap­tains most of­ten ex­pect­ing their spin­ners to keep a tight leash on the run-rate dur­ing the mid­dle overs and, hope­fully, pick up a cou­ple of wick­ets to stem the tide.

“I have no doubt the wick­ets are not go­ing to look any­thing like Lord’s. They are def­i­nitely go­ing to be a lot flat­ter and that pos­si­bly even al­lows teams like South Africa to play two spin­ners,” said for­mer Proteas left-armer Robin Peter­son, who played in the 2013 edi­tion.

“Since the 2015 World Cup, Eng­land have re­ally trans­formed their ODI side and a lot of that has to do with the at­tack­ing style of cricket they want to play. You can’t play that type of cricket on pitches that move around, so that does bring the

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