Will India repeat 2001 show against England?

Published: Wednesday, March 8, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Mohali:A depleted England side, who are high on confidence after a morale-boosting performance in Nagpur will lock horns with an Indian team well-balanced on paper, in the second Test which begins at the Punjab Cricket Stadium here tomorrow.

It will be the second meeting between the two teams here. In their earlier encounter in 2001, India posted a convincing win by 10 wickets, which gives a psychological advantage to the hosts.

India may go in the Test with three medium pacers in Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth and Rundra Pratap Singh or Munaf Musar Patel and two spinners in Anil Kumble and Piyus Chawla.

After getting a hammering in Pakistan where he remained wicketless, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh may have to cheer his team from the dressing room.

Irfan Pathan (3 for 92 and 2 for 48) and Sreesanth (4 for 95) bowled well to claim nine English wickets between them in Nagpur.

For the third pacer's slot, the toss up will be between R P Singh, who was brilliant in Pakistan tour where he was twice named Man of the Match, and Munaf Patel.

With high stakes, the Indian team management may prefer to groom Munaf more before exposing him in Test. He may be asked to study the proceedings at the dressing room.

On the batting front, Wasim Jaffer and Virender Sehwag are certain to open the Indian innings. Jaffer's confidence against England at Nagpur is high with brilliant knocks of 81 and 100.

The concern is Sehwag's poor run with the bat. There is no such worry, though, for captain dependable Rahul Dravid, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, Mohd Kaif and wicketkeeper -batsman Mahindra Singh Dhoni.

The return of fit-again local lad Yuvraj Singh, who excelled on the Pakistan tour, will strengthen the Indian batting line-up, but also poses selection headaches.

After carefully studying the nature of the pitch, the management will take the final decision on the playing XI tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, offering a green top wicket can put the visitors in the advantageous position. Even on a slow track at Nagpur, fast bowlers Mathew Hoggard, skipper Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison were among the wickets as they troubled the Indian batsmen. They will form the pace battery for England in the second Test too. Debutant left-arm spinner Monty Panesar impressed coach Duncan Fletcher with his tidy length.

Two England batsmen who stood tall at Nagpur were debutant Alastair Cook and Paul Collingwood, both of whom scored centurions and would like to continue their form at Mohali. Cook slamed 60 in the first innings and 104 in the second venture. Collingwood's impressive batting contributed unbeaten 134 and 36, while opener AJ Strauss scored 74 in the two innings.

Hard hitter Kevin Pietersen and captain Flintoff also look in form. England have recovered majestically after their injured captain Michael Vaughan, vice-captain Marcus Trescothick and Simon Jones left for home.

Coach Duncan Fletcher has expressed his happiness with the performance of his team at Nagpur. They played according to a set plan and he is hoping to continue it at Mohali.

Meanwhile, curator Daljit Singh predicted that for the first two days, the bat will dominate over the ball but later it may help the spinners.

Squads (From):

India: Rahul Dravid (Capt.), Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, S Sreesunth, Rudra Pratap Singh, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, Piyush Chawla.

England: Andrew Flintoff (Capt.), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ian Blackwell, Alastair Cook, Steve Harmison, Mathew Hoggard, Geriant Jones, Paul Collingwood, Monty Panesar, Kevin Peiterson, Andrew Strauss, Owais Shah, Sean Udal.

Umpires: Darrel Hair and Simon Taufel.

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