MUMBAI – England jet into Mumbai today, under new captain Alastair Cook striving to win their first Test series in India in 27 years against a home team desperate to make amends for last year’s 4-0 drubbing.
The four-Test series, starting in Ahmedabad on November 15, will be further spiced up by Kevin Pietersen’s return to the England fold after his exile and hints that Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar is on the brink of retirement.
The series gives the home side an opportunity to make amends for the humiliating 4-0 whitewash in England last year that saw them dethroned as the No 1 test side —and their replacement by England.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team then suffered another 4-0 defeat in Australia, capping a miserable six-month period that took the shine off India’s 50-over World Cup triumph in 2011.
But with the series against England followed by four Tests against Australia in February-March, India, ranked fifth in the world, will look to take advantage of familiar conditions to haul themselves back up the rankings.
Dhoni has urged groundsmen to prepare wickets that suit spin bowling and selectors refused to pick a spinner for England’s three-day opener in Mumbai tomorrow, denying the tourists early exposure to the turning ball.
“When we go to England, we get wickets that help the seamers and in Australia, you get tracks with bounce,” said Dhoni.
“In the subcontinent, spin is what matters and we should stick to that.”
England, who last won a Test series in India under David Gower in 1985 and lost their No 1 status to South Africa in August, will receive a boost from the return of the dangerous Pietersen.
India, who began their busy home season by winning both tests against lowly New Zealand in August and September before being ousted in the second round of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, are facing a future without Tendulkar.
The plans of the 39-year-old superstar are in the spotlight after he admitted earlier this month that the clock was ticking on his run-filled 23-year career.
“I don’t think I have plenty of cricket left in me,”said Tendulkar, the highest run-scorer in test and one-day cricket history— and the only batsman to notch 100 international centuries.
Tendulkar, who scored a record 51 Test centuries, has now gone 25 innings without a hundred in the five-day format since making 146 against South Africa in Cape Town in January 2011.—Reuters