Australia turns it up for India

If anything, it’s overloaded. A squad of 18 means seven are not playing at any given time with no other cricket available to release. That’s a lot of idle hands. Capless off-spinner Todd Murphy might be happy to just ride along, but not everyone will. History teaches that 16 fit together comfortably on a bus. A submarine is only a travel day away if needed.

Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.Credit:AP

The risk is collateral damage. Marcus Harris understaffed the Test team all summer but didn’t play any. He went six weeks without a hit in a match and when he returned to the Big Bash League this week he looked like a man who hadn’t hit in six weeks. He has been left out of the India squad and deserves sympathy.

The selectors see numbers as necessary cover. You’re going to need hitters who can play spin, and they have. Peter Handscomb deserves another chance. You will need and have backswing exponents. And of course they need spinners of all kinds.

It’s something of an Australian tradition to bring an open spinner to India. Think Brad Hogg, Nathan Hauritz, Krejza, Gavin Robertson and most recently Mitch Swepson. None became stars, but all played roles.

Nathan Lyon in India in 2017.

Nathan Lyon in India in 2017.Credit:AP

Now it’s Murphy’s turn, and what a time. The search for Lyon’s successor is in earnest and even if Murphy doesn’t get a test this time, he’ll be compressing years of experience and insight into a month. He’ll have even bigger eyes than his glasses make him look. He’s probably already packed his bags.

Two finger spinners, two wrists. Two to turn it right, two away. If you were to criticize, it would be about style. India’s hitters are pretty much all right-handed, so another leg spinner must have trained the selectors’ minds. Bad luck for Adam Zampa – again. He’s made his own subject and he’s stuck in it.

However, India is the domain and natural habitat of the finger spinner, not the leg. Shane Warne’s mortal average there was 43.

All of this is poking around at vulnerabilities in the interests of quality control. Overall, this is a squad that inspires hope. It’s hitting harder than 2017 – when the hitting was Steve Smith and Miscellaneous – and bowling deeper, jumping out of the rampant home summer.

India in India is never less than impressive, but at the moment it exudes only the slightest hint of vulnerability. It’s going to be an engaging series.

By the way, the Ahmedabad Stadium offers 132,000 seats. With any luck, they’ll need them all.

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Ryan Sederquist

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