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Mahela Jayawardene says spin obsession may harm Australia

The Sri Lankan legend warns the Aussies against over-dependence on spin but an injury-ridden pace-attack forces Australia to do just that.

A veteran of the subcontinent, Jayawardene advises Australia on the subcontinental conditions.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s 62 wickets from 9 Tests in 2015 has created a wave, the ripples of which have been felt as far as in Australia, which is evident through their special emphasis on spinners before this year’s ICC World T20 to be held in India.

However, a legend who has faced many a spinner on these subcontinental surfaces, Mahela Jayawardene, has warned them against such an approach, reports cricket.com.au. The Sri Lankan second-highest Test run-scorer is of the opinion that the perceived threat of spinners can be nullified by a good standard of pitches.

Overdependence on spin not good: Jayawardene

"A lot of people do emphasise on spin, but if you get good wickets it's not that bad,” he said after his game in the Big Bash League where he plays for the Adelaide Strikers. “The quick bowlers also have a lot of good variations going into the subcontinent conditions so you need to handle all that overall, not just put an emphasis on spin.”

“If you get a good ball you play it the way it is and if you get a bad ball you take it on. The quicks will have a lot of variations so you will need to adapt your game plan and assess the conditions – that's quite important.”

He also talked about the relatively small size of the grounds in India, implying that the spinners can easily go the distance even if the batsmen miscues a shot. If one goes by the Lankan’s words Australia would have to heavily depend upon their pace battery for the upcoming world cup, which, unfortunately, has been depleted through injuries.

Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile are all injured and are unlikely to compete in the marquee tournament. This means that a young lot of fast bowlers probably spearheaded by the most experienced of them- Josh Hazelwood would be carrying Australia’s hopes.

Spinners in the fray

As far as spin bowling is concerned, Glenn Maxwell would fill the role of an off-spinning all-rounder, with the second spinner’s spot likely to be competed for, with Australia’s Test spinner Nathan Lyon being the prime contender despite having not played a T20 game after a career comprising 51 Tests.

The veteran faces some competition, though, firstly from Cameron Boyce, who is the leading joint wicket-taker in the BBL at the moment, and also from other spinners in the fray namely Ashton Agar, Xavier Doherty, Brad Hogg, Adam Zampa and John Holland.

Agar was the front-line spinner for Australia in the ODI series against England post-Ashes, spins the ball in the opposite direction to Maxwell, and is pretty handy with the bat as well apart from being a good ground fielder.

A look for young talent might give Zampa an opportunity, as he did well during the recent ‘A’ tour to India. Doherty, Hogg and Holland are also in contention, but Jayawardene feels that it would be very difficult to judge these spinners based on their performances in Australia, as the pitches during the World T20 would be entirely different.

"The conditions are going to be quite different so it's quite hard to judge the way you play spin here and how you're going to play it in the subcontinent," he said.

“Obviously, in a World Cup you will get good wickets, you won't get really bad wickets, you'll get good wickets so you just have to be patient and control situations.”

As Australia mull their spinning options, a new-look Indian team left for their tour down under, the first fixture of which is 1st ODI of the 5-match series to pe played at the WACA on January 12. The ODI series would be followed by a three-match T20 series from January 26, during which, some of the above-mentioned men could be seen participating.

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