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Rediff.com  » Cricket » 'Good, sporting wicket' for Nagpur Test

'Good, sporting wicket' for Nagpur Test

December 11, 2012 17:51 IST

Apart from India's poor showing, the pitch is the major talking part of the series. But nothing seems to faze England at the moment.

India tried all possible strategies to mentally psyche the English, and that included denying them practice against spin in the warm-up pitches, but without success.

- England looking to finish off India

After their victory on a slow wicket in the first Test in Ahmedabad, India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni upped the stakes further by asking for a rank turner, that would spin from ball one, and was dished out one for the second Test in Mumbai.

Sachin Tendulkar inspects the pitch at the VA stadium on TuesdayBut the gamble backfired big time, as the England's spin duo of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann made better use of the 22-yard strip than Indian spinners Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh.

The trend continued in the next Test in Kolkata, where England emerged victorious by seven wickets on a wicket that offered a lot of assistance to the spinners.

Dhoni, who openly demanded turning tracks, is now in a quandary over what sort of wicket will suit his team, or rather make it difficult for England.

The high-flying England team, leading 2-1 in the series, though, is not bothered about what will be on offer for the fourth and final Test in Nagpur, starting Thursday.

Off-spinner Graeme Swann said his team is only focusing on preparing for the match; whether the wicket turns or not, he said, is not their concern at the moment.

"It is not strange for a home team to ask for a wicket to suit their team. We do that when we play in England, because we want it to suit our bowlers. The fact that we have won the last two Tests is testimony to how well we have played and not a lot to do about the pitch," he said.

All the eyes are on Pravin Hinganikar, the curator at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium in Jamtha, located on the outskirts of Nagpur.

He refused to make any comments on the wicket, but sources close to him said he has come up with a good, sporting wicket.

"The wicket will have good carry and the batsmen will also love batting on this wicket. The spinners will come into effect from day two onwards, but the pacers will get good bounce throughout. So I can say it is a good sporting wicket and we will see a good Test match here which will last for five days," the source said.

Swann believes whichever team does well in the first session of the match will gain the upper hand, which might prove vital for the rest of the contest.

"Whatever the pitch is, we have to try and win the game. So come Thursday morning it will be about winning the first session something which we have managed to do in the last two Test matches and it is why we have gone on to win the match," he said.

Swann also pointed out that England are not complacent despite two convincing victories in a row that has put them on the verge of their first series win in India since 1984-85.

"Well we haven't beaten them in all conditions because we lost the first game in Ahmedabad. We are not taking them for granted. We don't pat ourselves on the back and say 'look how well we have played in the last two games' because that is a very dangerous place to get in," the ace spinner said.

Sachin Tendulkar also had a good close look at the wicket before he turned up at the nets. He spent a few minutes looking at the track from both ends before Cheteshwar Pujara did the same.

Most of the Indian players, except R Ashwin and the three new players who are still playing in Ranji Trophy for their respective states, were present in the nets.

Piyush Chawla, Ravindra Jadeja and Parvinder Awana, who were selected for the fourth Test, are expected to join the team by Tuesday evening.

Swann also believes that India's obsession with the pitches have actually helped England and they are now confident on doing well on any track on offer.

"I don't know if anyone could look at that wicket we just played on and actually call it a rank turner from Day One. It was a very good Test wicket pitch and did very little for the spinners or the pacers on the first two days and gradually broke as the game went on and was turning quite nicely by the end. Any obsession with the pitch has been banished by that because Kolkata produced an exceptional Test pitch," he said.

Image: Sachin Tendulkar inspects the pitch at the VCA stadium that will be used for the fourth Test.