Test of nerve: England arrive to the buzz of spin
India look to avenge last year’s whitewash as visitors gear up to tackle their weak link
MUMBAI: When England’s new Test skipper Alastair Cook and coach Andy Flower walked in for the arrival press conference, nervous smiles were a constant feature. After all, it is 27 years since England last won a Test series in India, and the prospect of taking guard on rank turners is brightening. And their best player of spin, Kevin Pietersen, was a last minute inclusion in the side after the acrimony preceding that finally died down.
If there was any doubt about what has been England's undoing in India over the years, all of that would have been cleared minutes into the conference, as most of the discussion surrounded one subject — the ability of the English batsmen to tackle quality spin bowling.
That fact was not lost on Cook. The 27-year-old opener said how quickly his team gets used to Indian conditions could decide the mood of the team when they head home for the Christmas break at the end of December.
“History suggests how tough it's to win here,” said Cook. “It is almost 30 years since an English side last won here. We know of the challenge that lies ahead. We are excited about it. We know it's not going to be easy, but as players we put ourselves in that posi- tion and would love to test ourselves in the mightiest conditions.”
While the Indian camp has been vocal in its demand for pitches that turn square, Cook stuck to the kind of response that is standard for teams that have just landed and are wary of jumping into conclusions. “We cannot control the kind of wickets that will be served to us. Both teams have world class players. The team that adapts to the conditions better will be the one that will come out on top.”
Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh will need to impress the selectors in the warm-up game to strengthen their claims for the up-for-grabs No 6 slot.