Mohali: In an unusually low-profile series due to the buzz surrounding the Commonwealth Games, India go into the first Test against Australia with serious concerns at the bowling front with their key spinner Harabhajan Singh rendered a doubtful starter for the match starting from Friday.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has just returned from South Africa after playing in the Champions League Twenty20, will also have to switch quickly from Twenty20 to Test mode for the series which coincides with the Commonwealth Games from October 3 to 14 in Delhi.
The same is the case for Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings team-mate Suresh Raina, who is set to play his third Test, though another CSK member Murali Vijay is expected to sit out.
But more than switching from shortest format to the longest, Dhoni's main worry would be the uncertainty over the fitness of off-spinner Harabhajan Singh who is suffering from an ankle sprain.
With Mohali pitch predicted to be on the slower side with low bounce after heavy rains this monsoon season, slow bowlers, especially Harbhajan would be crucial to India's scheme of things.
In case of the feisty off-spinner's absence, who normally reserves his best against the Australians, Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra will have to take charge of the slow-bowling department.
"We will take a call on Bhajji tomorrow. The rest are all available for selection," Dhoni said at the pre-match media conference.
While leg-spinner Amit Mishra has had a dream debut against the Australians in the 2008 series picking up five-for at this very ground, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha is a more disciplined bowler although a bit on the restrictive mould.
It has often been found out that Mishra has struggled on slow pitches as his leg breaks are rendered ineffective. Being too slow through the air has also been a problem.
Ojha, on the other hand, has the ability to keep the batsman quiet with tight line and length bowling. He gives an option to the bowler at the other end to have a go at the batsman.
The team-management will also have to take a call between pacers Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth to share the new ball with experienced but injury-returned Zaheer Khan. It will be a tough call considering that both have not been in their best of shape and form at the international level.
Ishant has been struggling in the past season and bowled well in patches during the Test series in Sri Lanka. Sreesanth couldn't make much of an impact during the three-day game against the Australians after recovering from a knee injury which led him to return home from Sri Lanka without playing a Test.