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England banking on Pietersen for 'tough challenge' of India

Last updated on: October 29, 2012 21:26 IST

England banking on Pietersen for 'tough challenge' of India

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India is a final frontier in some ways for England. Their last Test series win in India came way back in 1985; since then they toured India four times, but returned disappointed, winning just one of 11 Tests.

-Raina wants revenge on England for whitewash 'pain'

England captain Alistair Cook has his task cut out when his team takes on India in a four-match series, starting in Ahmedabad, on November 15. The home side is like a wounded tiger at the moment, desperate for revenge after being whitewashed 4-0 in England last year.

England have an added bother. It's the pitches, which could offer a lot of help to the spinners. They have always struggled against the turning ball.


Image: Alistair Cook
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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'History suggests how hard it is to come to India and win'

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"Clearly, the history suggests how hard it is to come here and win. It has been nearly 30 years, I think, since an English side has done that, and that is the challenge we have got ahead of us. We are excited about that.

"There is no way it is going to be easy and there are going to be tough hurdles along the way if we are to overcome that challenge," said Cook, in Mumbai, on arrival in India.

England's main hopes of getting the better of India at home rests largely on swashbuckling batsman Kevin Pietersen. The right-hander was left out of the original Test squad for India for sending text messages to South African players during their Test series in England. But after a series of meetings with coach Andy Flower and some of his seniors team-mates, he was added to the team, fully aware of the impact he can make with the willow.

Pietersen has played 12 Tests against India, scoring 1243 runs, at an average of 62.15, inclusive of five centuries and four half-centuries. His record in India, though, needs catching up. Just 365 runs in five Tests, at an average of 40, is all he has against his name, but the experience of having played in the country in the Indian Premier League will serve the team well, believes Cook.


Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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'We are desperate to have KP back in the team'

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"As I said it is great to have Kev back, and, like any batter in the team, he is there to score runs and off the field to pass some of the experience he has got to the rest of the lads. He has played a huge amount of cricket now in 90 Test matches, a lot of cricket in the sub-continent as well in the IPL. That experience will be invaluable for us to get used to these conditions as quick as we can.

"Kev is desperate to get going and we are desperate to have him back in the team. As I have always said, it is great to have world-class players in our team, and if we play the standard of cricket we know we are capable of, we got to have our best players to do that," he added.

England coach Andy Flower confirmed Pietersen's first steps towards his comeback to the Test squad begin with the three-day match against India 'A' in Mumbai, beginning Tuesday.

"He will play and will bat at No 4 tomorrow. It takes a little while to get back into your rhythm and top form, but he is an amazing cricketer. Playing T20 cricket the first few innings he had, he must have been a tad rusty, but he scored a good fifty in the semi-final. With a couple of knocks in the tour games for the Test matches I am sure he will be fine," Flower said.

The left-hander also revealed that he will miss former England captain and opening partner Andrew Strauss, who quit the game earlier this year.

"It will be strange walking out to bat for England without Andrew Strauss. It was a pleasure to bat with him and it was great knowing such a familiar face down the other end. We are friends off the cricket field and I think that showed in our relationship when we were batting in the middle. It is a shame that it will never happen, but it is a great opportunity for someone else to come and open the batting for England."


Image: Kevin Pietersen
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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'We can't control the wickets that we play'

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Virat Kohli and Harbhajan Singh have said it will be fair to have turning wickets for the Test series, since India gets fast bouncy wickets when they travel to England. But Cook is not too bothered about the conditions on offer.

"We can't control the wickets that we play. We can't worry about that and we have to adapt to whatever the conditions are and India will have to do the same as well," he said.

Sachin Tendulkar has not enjoyed a good run of form with the bat in recent months, but England are not taking him too lightly and have plans in place to keep the great man quiet in the series.

"I can't say anything which hasn't been said before. Sachin is obviously a true great of the game and his record suggests that. I don't know whether his record will ever get beaten. The number of hundreds he has scored is phenomenal. You know that old saying, class is permanent and all that. We are going to have our plans against him, as we have for all their batters. To write off a player of such a huge quality is very dangerous, but we will try to make sure he doesn't score runs against us," he said.


Photographs: Tom Shaw/Getty Images

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