England to field two spinners: Pietersen

Hoping to extract turn on a flat track, England skipper Kevin Pietersen said the visitors would go into the first Test with a two-pronged spin attack.

updated: December 10, 2008 13:09 IST
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Hoping to extract turn on an otherwise flat track, England skipper Kevin Pietersen on Wednesday said the visitors would go into the first Test against India with a two-pronged spin attack comprising Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

"It's a decision we have taken because we think that the wicket may spin. We had a look at the wicket and I think it would spin and (having two spinners) probably gives us the best attacking option," Pietersen said in the pre-match press conference.

"Swann bowled absolutely fantastically up to this Test match and to give him a debut is well deserved. In terms of our attack, it is pretty important we go with two spinners. It doesn't matter how good you play the spinners. You still got to play spin well on the day. We will be keen and ready for the Indian batsmen. We have to wait and see. Swann did well against India as off-spinner," he said.

The build-up to the series has been far from ideal for the beleaguered Englishmen, who abandoned the last two ODIs after the terror strikes in Mumbai. Pietersen and co. then had to deal with a fortnight of uncertainty before their security experts gave the go ahead for the Test series.

Pietersen, however, asserted that his men were now firmly focused on the job at hand.

"Any team that turns up for a match will have good chances of winning a Test match. It depends on how you play and perform as a unit. We are considered as underdogs coming to this Test series. In that situation it is all about how you handle the game under pressure. Our planning and everything has been disrupted by the incidents during the last two weeks.

But we need to handle the tasks during the next five days," he said.

"The boys have made the decision to come back for the Test series. We love India and the team loves India. We have come with the full squad because we love playing the game in India before large crowds. The boys are raring for the match to start and play cricket," added.

The English skipper was woefully short of luck at the toss in the one-day series but he is keeping his fingers crossed for things to change in the Test series.

"Probably looks like a batting track to start off with. We will probably look to bat first. It looks pretty good wicket so hopefully we will have some good cricket," he said.

England have decided to go with Matt Prior as wicketkeeper instead of Test regular Tim Ambrose despite his lackluster show in the one-day series. Pietersen said he had full faith in the embattled stumper's ability to bounce back.

"Matt Prior is a better option with the bat. He has improved tremendously with keeping. I don't think he lost confidence with his keeping in the ODIs. It was really tough tour for everybody. He is not the only one to have lost a bit of confidence over the last one month," he said.

Pietersen said in the Indian team, Yuvraj Singh would be under pressure in his comeback Test match.

"There will be lot of pressure on Yuvraj Singh. We have seen him in one dayers. It is interesting to see how he is going to play short balls," he said.

Pietersen, however, refused to call out-of-form Rahul Dravid a weak link in the Indian team.

"Never ever say that Rahul is a soft link in any batting line up. He is such a fantastic player. He was not one of the best in the world and called wall for nothing. We have got to do a job because he is such a fantastic player. It is going to be tough but we have got to do some hard work," he said.

Asked whether the series would be the toughest challenge of his career, Pietersen said, "Of course it is a tough series. My whole career has been tough and I do not mind playing cricket in tough situations as it is going to be more rewarding."

Pietersen lauded his opposite number Mahendra Singh Dhoni for being a calm leader.

"Dhoni is a good leader, a confident player. He is really calm and cool and collected," he said.


Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen (c), Paul Collingwood, Andrew Filntoff, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, Stephen Harmison, James Anderson, Monty Panesar.