Mumbai: Australian spin legend Shane Warne reckons Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's demand for turning tracks in the ongoing Test series against England is merely a ploy to create doubts in the minds of visiting batsmen.
"You know it's a red soil. You know it is going to spin. I don't like captain specifically asking for it. Asking the curator if we can have a big spin. I don't think you should be asking for it. We know it is going to spin. I think he is playing a few mind games with England batsmen," Warne said on Thursday.
"I think the groundsman will prepare whatever wicket he wants to prepare. I am sure Dhoni hasn't even spoken. He just put some doubts in the English batsmen's mind that we are getting huge turning wicket. But I am sure the pitch will be just the same. It is just mind games," the legendary spinner said.
Warne's comments came in the wake of Dhoni's explicit demand for turning tracks after a nine-wicket win over England in the opening Test in Ahmedabad. The flamboyant Aussie said he does not approve of captains asking for specific pitches as it's a job best left to groundsmen.
"I don't think the captain should be asking. It should be upto the groundsmen. the groundsmen will take pride in producing the best Test wicket. And both teams will then have a look at the wicket and work out the team combination and work out whether they want to bat or bowl first. There is a contest between the bat and the ball. I don't think anyone is interested in flat wickets with 700 runs. It's boring. But in India you have to expect turning wickets," he said.
Warne said the host team is likely to win the series and toss would be crucial to England's chances.
"I think the toss will be really important in this Test match for England more than India. If England can win the toss and bat when conditions are at their best and post some big score, that will help their confidence. If they lose the toss and India score big in the first innings, then they will have the wickets turning and it will be hard work. The toss I think will be super important in this Test match," Warne said.
"I think India will win the series. What the scoreline will be? I need to see three more Test matches. But I think India will win (the series)," he added. Warne said the visitors need to adapt to the conditions as the wickets here are different from elsewhere.
"Playing spin in India is completely different from playing spin in any other country. The way how it comes onto the pitch slowly. It took us a while to play here. I think you will see improvement in England with this test match," he said. England obviously struggle against spin. They have got some players who can play spin but as a group they have struggled. We saw that against Pakistan, we saw against India in the first test match. England do struggle but now they have to come out now and show their character. Otherwise anywhere they go, they are going to struggle against spinners," he added.
He also defended South African-born English batsman Kevin Pietersen, who did not impress much in the opening Test.
"Kevin Pietersen plays spin pretty well. But some one is going to get you out. He bats in the middle order, so spinners are generally going to get him out. I think he is one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world. I don't think he has a problem with the spin," he said.
Warne praised the Indian spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha.
"I think Ashwin's flight, his variations, his consistency, his accuracy is very good. Ojha gets a good turn on the ball. I thought he was pacing ball slow and traditional left arm spin was nice to see. I always thought the best combination was to get one bowler bowling off spin and the other bowling leg spin."
On the content_cnious Decision Review System, Warne said, " I think, DRS is for shocking decisions, because it can happen because umpires are human. I think the system is fantastic. In the game more correct decisions are made, which is what we want as players. I think it is good for the game. It is not fair for each governing body to pay for the DRS. I think what should happen is that ICC pays for it so that everyone plays in all the countries with the same rules. Everyone should be on even keel and everyone should play by the same rules. It does make a huge difference. It should be used in every series."
Coming back to Dhoni, he said, "I think MS is a very good captain. I think he is an aggressive captain. What I have seen in England and Australia is that he got too defensive. I think it suits Dhoni when he attacks with spinners and is aggressive and tries to take wickets rather than try bowl the opposition. The times I have seen him aggressive is most of the times in India. He feels confident in his comfort zone. He needs to win away from India. If he continues with aggression, that will hold him in good stead."
About the impact of IPL, the Aussie said, "I think IPL has helped India give depth in cricket. I think India looks a good side. As discussions turned to Cheteshwar Pujara, Warne said, "It was a class innings. He played beautiful. There was a lot of comparison between him and Rahul Dravid. Hopefully, he becomes as good as Rahul Dravid.
"I was very impressed with his footwork and his temperament. He seemed very calm. He was patient. Hopefully, he can go on and continue."
Warne felt England should have played Monty Panesar in the first Test.
"I think England missed a trick. They should have played Monty Panesar, I am sure he is going to play this (Mumbai) match. Monty and I spoke about using the crease, pace and wrist position. He had a good county season. I want to watch him bowl this test match.
Warne was also impressed with Greame Swann's performance in the Ahmedabad Test.
"I was very impressed with Greame Swann in first innings, he bowled a traditional off spin. I have had a few sessions with Monty over the last 12 months. He is bowling really well. I think he will trouble a few Indian batsmen with spin going away from right handers."