India look to put Eng in web of spin

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It's billed as the grudge series after the 4-0 thrashing that Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India were subjected to when they toured England in July 2011.

Some 16 months later, England have a new Test skipper in Alastair Cook but the four-Test series beginning at Motera from Thursday will have a huge bearing on Dhoni's tenure as captain especially given the dismal showing by the Indian team against England and Australia.

But Dhoni's team, combining a mixture of youth and experience plus the return of Yuvraj Singh after battling cancer, are set to give the visitors a dose of Indian spin magic.

Will Cook's England be hard pressed to unravel the mysteries of the tweakers?

Dry, untested Motera pitch should aid tweakers in `grudge' series.

After their miserable tours of England and Australia where they received 4-0 drubbings each, India have been looking for rank turners to dominate in home conditions. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side seem to have got their desired, but face an untested pitch for the first Test against England at the Sardar Patel Stadium here in Motera.

The pitch looks dry, with no grass on it and spinners will have much to contribute as the game progresses. However both skippers are apprehensive about the newly laid pitch. “We will see how it behaves. It looks a dry wicket and they have changed the soil and used more clay in preparation of the new wicket, but definitely I feel it will turn,” said Dhoni on Wednesday.

India have enjoyed considerable success at home in recent times.

Since the defeat to Australia in 2004, India have not lost a home Test series. In a bid to reverse the 4-0 result in England last year and repeat the 3-0 drubbing of the 1993 clash, the hosts will be looking for a good start.

The mind games began early with Yuvraj Singh calling for revenge and some others pointing at English batsmens’ inability to play spin.

Ravichandran Ashwin has reportedly developed a ‘mystery ball to unleash on the Englishmen.
England have also not been far behind. Cook has repeatedly said they are ready to play spin on any pitches. Fast bowler James Anderson has said they will give no respect to Sachin Tendulkar.
But now the Englishmen face the real test in bid to regain their No. 1 status and win a series in India after 27 years.

England’s record of just two Test victories from a possible 22 in Asia, excluding matches against Bangladesh, doesn’t make their task easier. Under Andrew Strauss, they were whitewashed 30 by Pakistan in the UAE at the start of the year. Pragyan Ojha in company of Ashwin will look to exploit those weaknesses in this first of the four games over the next five weeks.

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