Mumbai memory offers England hope
Match factsNovember 23-27, 2012
Start time 0930 local (0400 GMT)
Big PictureIndia's victory in the opening Test in Ahmedabad went perfectly to plan. England capitulated against India's spinners, just as everybody suspected they might, and even Alastair Cook's wonderfully defiant hundred after England followed on had the air of a new Test captain merely delaying the inevitable.
It will all deepen the conviction that India are strong favourites in this four-Test series, poised to avenge their thrashing in England last summer. But Mumbai always has good bounce and urban legend has it that early morning moisture and a final-session sea breeze often keep the seamers interested. England won here in 2006 and, if it was four surprisingly cheap wickets for Shaun Udal's offspin that attracted the attention, India's collapse to 100 all out in their second innings had been sparked by the pace of Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson.
It would be doubly unfortunate for England if they compounded their error in not playing two spinners in Ahmedabad by opting this time for two seamers just when conditions most favoured pace bowling. But as green as the pitch looked on practice day, it is expected to be shaved bare by the start of play. MS Dhoni, unsurprisingly, wants it to spin.
Form guideIndia: WWWLL (Completed matches, most recent first)
Players to watchAs Sidharth Monga has memorably observed elsewhere, Virender Sehwag would have liked nothing better than to move from 94 Tests to 100 with a six. Instead, he got there in scratchy fashion, with only one half-century in 10 knocks until his career-affirming hundred in Ahmedabad. No Test batsman performs more audaciously or with such an uncluttered method. Attention will be on him even more than usual.
For England, much attention will be focused on Monty Panesar, whose left-arm spin is now seen as their route back into the series. It is hard to imagine a surface in his career that demanded his selection more than Ahmedabad or a time in his career - with tours in the UAE, Sri Lanka and now India - when he should have been more in demand, yet the reality is only three Tests in more than three years and a career that has stalled since the emergence of Graeme Swann.
Pitch and conditionsWill the Test pitch last the course? Three weeks ago Mumbai played Railways on the same surface, encouragement for Sachin Tendulkar, who warmed up with a century, and even more so for India's spinners who can anticipate residual wear.
England will surely play Panesar alongside Graeme Swann, while there will be a new face in the middle-order, with Ian Bell returning home on paternity leave. Stuart Broad's illness could also open up a fast-bowling position. For the hosts, Umesh Yadav's bad back is likely to hand Ishant Sharma a recall. India's spinners, Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin, can anticipate no let-up in their workload.
India (probable) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Virat Kohli, 6 Yuvraj Singh, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Ishant Sharma
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Nick Compton, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Samit Patel, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Monty Panesar
Stats and trivia
- England have never lost more than eight Tests in a calendar year. Already this year they have lost seven - and they have three Tests to play.
- Panesar is expected to return to the scene of one of his greatest fielding escapades - in Mumbai six years ago, he badly missed MS Dhoni at long-off, the ball landing several yards away, before catching a similar opportunity in the same spot minutes later.
- England won in Mumbai in 2006 to the tune of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire", the dressing room song championed by the captain at the time, Andrew Flintoff.
- Harbhajan Singh's 22 wickets at the Wankhede have come at less than 20 runs each.
- In the last Test at the Wankhede - India v West Indies last November - the match finished as a draw with scores level, only the second such occasion in Test history.
Quotes"If it does not turn I can come and criticise once again."
MS Dhoni, India's captain, who criticised the Motera pitch for not turning from the outset, continues his campaign in Mumbai.
"I'm not concerned at the reaction of some players. I am concerned about the last game, and that we learn from that, and I'm concerned that we improve on the field." "
Alastair Cook, England's captain, makes the light of Broad's apparent siege mentality after another defeat on Asian pitches.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo