England ready for India and their wily spinners

England seem quite convinced that it's their best opportunity to end their wretched record in India.



Ahmedabad: What are England's chances this time around? How is the mood in the camp after Kevin Pietersen's return? And what do they make of India's strategy of not fielding a spinner worth his salt in any of the practice games? All six players fielded by England for the media interaction on Tuesdayhad these three questions fired at them repeatedly, and all of them had more or less the same response.

England seem quite convinced that it's their best opportunity to end their wretched record in India - they last won a series almost 28 years ago and since then have won just one Test. While some said it straight up, others expressed optimism with some caution, but that quiet confidence and hopefulness was unmistakable in their tone and demeanor.

GREATS RETIRED
This belief stems as much from their ability and preparedness as from India's current state of flux. “The likes of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are no longer there and I reckon that famous middle order would be a little fragile without them. This gives us a huge opportunity,” said Samit Patel.

Graham Onions, the pacer on a comeback trail, acknowledged that the bowlers would breathe a little easy, knowing they don't have to bowl to the great middle order, but felt India were still a good side. “Those who have stepped into their shoes are also good. (Cheteshwar) Pujara showed in the practice game how good a player he is. And Sachin Tendulkar is still around. So, it's going to be good contest,” he said.


England have been diligent in their preparation. Having arrived 15 days before the first Test, they are scheduled to play a third warm-up game before the series. They held a short camp in Dubai and simulated conditions they are likely to get in India.

And that's probably why they are least bothered about being denied any opportunity to bat against specialist spinners so far.

“It doesn't make any difference. We have had our preparations, we are learning every day and our skill levels against spin are improving. And hopefully we will be able to show that in this series,” said Patel.

SPIN TACTICS
Surprisingly, there was no hint of frustration at the 'no-spinner' tactics. “It's not up to us to choose the opposition and players we want to play against. All we can do is prepare our best and win the game. That's all we are focusing on.”

Their response couldn't have been more similar when it came to talking about Pietersen. It was apparent they had done their homework. All of them parroted how happy the team was to have him back and how everyone was hoping for him to do well. The camaraderie would have appeared more genuine had KP been singing the same tune alongside them.

As of now, England have kept KP away from the Indian media, just as India have kept spinners away from the visitors.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

April 24: A legend is born

As Sachin Tendulkar turns 41 - here's a look at some offbeat moments from the Master Blaster's innings. More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Pakistan on Monday reappointed Moin Khan as chief selector and manager of the national team, a week after fellow former captain Rashid Latif turned down… More »

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

IPL7, MATCH 8—Raina-led middle order, superlative catching give CSK a 93-run win. More »

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Dwayne Bravo is set to be sidelined for at least four weeks due to a shoulder problem. Bravo sustained the injury when attempting a catch on the boundary… More »