Another trial by spin at Ahmedabad for England?
by Asher Wilson

Scorecard:India v England
Event:England in India 2012/13

DateLine: 23rd November 2012


India v England
2nd Test 2012
Match Preview


After being hammered by nine wickets in the first Test against India in Ahmedabad, England now have a chance to make amends playing the 2nd Test which starts Friday, 23 November 2012. To list their wrongs from the first Test would take far too long and may well be far too obvious.


They were outplayed in every department, and coach Andy Flower has admitted that he might have made some selection errors. Flower said that he had simply misread the pitch and, as a result, second spinner Monty Panesar missed out. The coach was coy on his plans for the second Test, Flower insists that he will have to look at the deck in Mumbai first before making decisions on who to include in his attack. Although another batsman will have to be brought in to replace Ian Bell, who is on paternity leave and was supposed to be with his wife for the arrival of their first child but though an early birth of a baby boy has dashed the batsman's hopes, he will still be flying to England.


India, meanwhile, is in cruise control, and MS Dhoni had nothing but praise for his team after the first Test. They have to guard against getting complacent and thinking that simply showing up means winning. It is a problem that often plagues strong teams, and it will be India's biggest challenge if they want to keep the momentum going.


The match at Wankhede Stadium on Friday would also be significant with Virender Sehwag set to become only the ninth Indian player to feature in 100 Tests. The form of the dashing opener, who hit a run-a-ball 117 in India's massive first innings, would be crucial again in the outcome of the second match and, in fact, for the whole series. Cheteshwar Pujara would also look to continue from where he left in Ahmedabad where he hit an unbeaten 206 out of a team score of 521 for 8 declared.


Senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who was honoured last evening by the Cricket Board for his incredible achievement of scoring a 100 International hundreds, strangely has hit only one Test ton at his home ground -- 148 as captain against Sri Lanka in 1997. The 39-year-old cricketer, who is in the twilight of his glorious career, would be eager to score his second century here as this could well be his final chance to achieve the feat before he retires. He had missed out on the chance to score his landmark 100th ton by six runs in front of his adoring home city fans during the thrilling last-ball draw against the West Indies last November.


Pragyan Ojha made his Test debut for India in 2009, and despite collecting 84 wickets in 17 Tests, with an economy rate of 2.70, he has seemingly flown under the radar. The spinner has good variation, but he seems to be somewhat underrated. He has picked up 72 of his scalps in India at an average of 26.54. He is a crafty player who can torment and frustrate batsmen to no end, and a nine-wicket haul in the first Test was exactly what he needed to catapult his confidence for the rest of the series.


Zaheer Khan, who used the old ball craftily in tightening the screws on England on an unresponsive pitch at Ahmedabad, will spearhead the attack.


India would have liked to go in with the winning combination, especially after the pacers put in a good show with the old ball but a lower back injury to Umesh Yadav means Ishant Sharma, if fit, or Ashok Dinda will partner Zaheer Khan.


England on the other hand, although Cook and Prior showed some stiff resistance in the second innings scoring 176 and 91 respectively, the other visiting batsmen looked all at sea against the Indian bowling attack. If they do not pull up their socks up quickly, the hopes of India's fans for a 4-0 series win, may well come to pass in wake of the similar drubbing MS Dhoni and Co. received last year.


Kevin Pietersen performs best when he is under a bit of pressure, and since he has been 'reintegrated' into the England side, he will be under scrutiny. His performance in the first Test was well below par for a player of his calibre. To do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result is, of course, a mark of insanity; and if Pietersen continues to play left-arm spin in such a baffling manner, he might need to be shipped away to get some help from some of the top mental conditioning coaches in England. He has played just six Tests in India, and he averages a measly 34.90 in those. While it is hardly a case of ship up or ship out, Pietersen has a heck of a lot to prove.


England too are or course to make some changes although Steve Finn has already been ruled out meaning England will continue to be without one of their key bowlers.


The think-tank is likely to deliberate over playing Monty Panesar, the left-arm spinner in place of Samit Patel, who was picked mainly because of his ability to play spin well. Patel received a dubious LBW decisions in both innings of the first Test and looked ordinary with his left-arm spin and might have to make way for Panesar, who is a specialist spinner. If Panesar gets the nod, one of the three seam bowlers who all flopped at Ahmedabad -- James Anderson, vice-captain Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan -- would be out of the eleven. There is also the likelihood of Samit Patel, who failed in the series opener, giving way to reserve wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow if Panesar is included to bowl left-arm spin.


Eoin Morgan is the favourite to replace Bell with the left-hander having more experience of International cricket and is also believed to be better against spin bowling.


With a turner in the offing, the toss will once again be crucial and both captains will be eager to bat first against an attack that boasts quality spinners.


The pitch at the Wankhede Stadium, which usually helps the pacers, is expected to be a turning one after Dhoni voiced his disapproval of the wicket in the first Test at Ahmedabad, which offered slow turn on the last two days.


This would be the 23rd Test hosted at this venue since the first in 1974-75 and India have come out victorious on 9 of those occasions including thrice in a row against England between 1984 and 1993.


The hosts have suffered reverses against England in 1980 and 2006, the last time the two met at this ground, with the tourists aided by the all-round brilliance of Ian Bothan (century and 13 wickets) and Andrew Flintoff (two fifties and 4 wickets) respectively.


India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt. & wk), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay, Ashok Dinda.


England: Alastair Cook (capt.), James Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Nick Compton, Samit Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott, Sturt Broad, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Graham Onions, Eoin Morgan, Monty Panesar and Stuart Meaker.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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