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

Hindustan Times (Patna) - - FRONT PAGE - Anand Sachar

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.

SET­TLING DOWN

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.

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