Delhi Test: What Should The Team Winning The Toss Do, Bat Or Bowl First?

Team India come into the Delhi Test, having so far harnessed the dry pitches on offer in the Freedom Trophy to their advantage. Ravichandran Ashwin has been unplayable and supported well by Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra, who have been crucial to India’s success as well. The pitch talk, a bit exaggerated, has taken the sheen off India bringing an end to South Africa’s 9-year unbeaten away run in Tests, though players from the home side have maintained that the problem has not been with the pitches but with the lack of application from batsmen of both teams.

Now, with the Delhi pitch expected, once again, to be of much scrutiny, how crucial will the toss be? And what should the captain who wins the toss do?

The Feroz Shah Kotla pitch has favoured the spinners in the last 5 Test matches India have played there, picking 83 of the wickets to have fallen.

Only twice in the last decade – with 5 Tests having been played – has the team batting first posted a total in excess of 300. The above statistic is a clear indicator that batting has not been easy right from the word go. Having said that, India did chase down over 250 in the fourth innings, 276/5 in truth, to beat West Indies in 2011, when Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha bowled simply superbly as India’s spin twins.

Now the last time India played a Test match at the Kotla in 2013, they had to give body and soul to chase down 158 set by Australia, winning the Test match by just 4 wickets. Nathan Lyon and Glenn Maxwell picked up 12 of the 16 wickets, which again is a reminder that the spinners can expect to rule the roost in the Test starting today. In addition, it gives you an indication of how tough it can be to chase down targets.

India have got the luxury to experiment in Delhi, but it is unlikely that they will not go in with the 3 spinners who have single-handedly won them the Freedom Trophy. Unless India are not ruthless enough, expect Kohli to play to his side’s strengths: bat first if he wins the toss and harness what is probably going to be the best time to bat on a pitch that has looked dry in the lead up to the start of the Test.

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