India look to maintain momentum against England

Mumbai, Nov 22 (IANS) Even if the ball "doesn't spin from ball one", India are expected to overcome the challenge from England in the second Test, beginning at the Wankhede Stadium here Friday.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has courted a controversy by saying he wants to see the pitch turning from the word go and even though his team won the first Test by nine wickets, he "would not like to see another surface" like the one used in Ahmedabad.

Irrespective of the conditions, England in the second innings of the opening game have shown they are capable of adjusting to alien surroundings through their spirited effort.

The Mumbai track has traditionally favoured the spinners, though the curator has been tight−lipped on its nature. It would not have been a bad idea to include Harbhajan Singh in the side. But Dhoni on the eve of the match said they would go in with two spinners and two fast bowlers.

"Harbhajan has to wait as (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Pragyan) Ojha are bowling well," said Dhoni in his pre−match media interaction with media persons.

"We are looking at a 2−2 combination. You don't know exactly whether you are bowling first or batting. Which means if the spinners are bowling and there is not much turn for them and the ball is not stopping, it may be difficult for them to restrict the batsmen," he added.

Umesh Yadav, who impressed on a slow flat wicket at Motera, Ahmedabad, is doubtful for the match and Ashok Dinda has been kept as standby.

Any other change in the side from the one that played in the first game is unlikely. The focus will, however, be on devastating opener Virender Sehwag, who is set to become the ninth Indian to feature in 100 Tests.

The crowd will also be hoping to see a special innings from their hometown hero Sachin Tendulkar, who has not breached the three−digit figure since January 2011. Star in Ahmedabad, Cheteshwar Pujara will look to carry on in the same vein.

Monty Panesar is likely to get a game for England after their team director Andy Flower admitted they made a mistake by not picking the left−arm spinner in the first Test. His inclusion would ease a bit of pressure off Graeme Swann, who was easily the visitors' standout bowler in the first Test.

The pace department looks uncertain with Stuart Broad missing a training session on the eve of the game. Steve Finn has not yet recovered from a thigh strain he suffered in a tour match.

The batsmen did manage to provide resistance in the second innings at Ahmedabad with skipper Alastair Cook leading the way. One would like to believe they would only get better against the turning ball as the series progresses.

England will be hoping that their key batsman Kevin Pietersen also finds some form.

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

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

Umpires: Aleem Dar and Tony Hill

Third Umpire: S. Ravi

Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama.

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