India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai November 22, 2012

Mumbai memory offers England hope


Match facts

November 23-27, 2012
Start time 0930 local (0400 GMT)

Big Picture

India'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 guide

India: WWWLL (Completed matches, most recent first)
England: LLDLD

Players to watch

As 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 conditions

Will 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.

Team news

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.


"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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 23, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    @jackiethepen on (November 22 2012, 18:32 PM GMT) You are correct in that bowling attack were also poor in this game but the reason "everybody suspected they might" is because it has kept happening. Purely from memory English top 6 batsmen scored 2 x 50s between them in the UAE (Cook and Trott) in 6 inns and in 4 inns in SL Bell scored a 50 and KP a ton. So it's hardly like the author doesn't have anything to back up his words. Also I strongly disagree with your comms re Flower being particularly heavy on the batsmen. After our pityful showing in UAE only one batsman (who wasn't statistically the worst and we all know who was) paid the price and Monty who was our highest wicket taker in that series (amassed in 2 tests) was dropped after 1 barren test in SL. If anything England have been too lenient on our underperforming batsmen this year

  • ANANTH on November 22, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    India should play 3 spinners in Ashwin, Ojha and Harbhajan. This will add great physichological pressure on England. Kohli can bowl few overs seam up and help take shine off the new ball. Go for the kill team India.

    Run 'em down !!

  • Tahir on November 22, 2012, 16:48 GMT

    Looking at Panesar's figures in India, he has taken only 11 wickets in 5 matches. Therefore, he may not impact that much. He came good against Pakistan in UAE but should we rely on that as indian pitches are totally different. If Broad is going out then Patel has to be in. He will get some bounce to spin and can bat nicely if comes on the bat. Patel got two bad umpiring decisions and would have been saved by DRS. Also he has shown good form in warmps. After all india are playing with 11+curators while in the past it was 11+two umpires.

  • Andy on November 22, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    I think Mr Hopps has made a mistake here. Bairstow will play ahead of Morgan if fit given he scored two fifties in England's last Test before Ahmedabad and he scored a ton in the warm-up matches. Morgan hasn't been near the Test side since the UAE shambles over nine months ago.

  • Jake on November 22, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    I was at the Wankhede for all five days of that 2006 test. It was a really good test pitch. Sreesanth got plenty of life and bounce and India were definitely rattled by Flintoff's pace (esp Dhoni) in both innings. Monty played and his most memorable moment was making a complete hash of a Dhoni skier, but then Dhoni offered him another a few balls later which he actually clung on to. Key innnings of the match was Strauss's first innings effort. England will be hoping Cook replicates that.

  • Aabhas on November 22, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    England won the last test in Wankhede because Dravid won the toss and, rather foolishly, chose to bowl first!!! I cant see Dhoni doing that in India no matter however green a tinge there is on the pitch and hence, there is but a mere 50% chance of England getting first use of the wicket. This implies England then have a 10% chance of winning the game.

  • Luka on November 22, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    Even if the pitch has extreme turn to offer, I wonder if either captain would be brave enough to play a single seamer. I wonder who will share the new ball for India. Kohli? Dhoni? We might get some nostalgia of the 70's, when Gavaskar used to rough up the ball initially by bowling a couple of overs and then we saw 50-60 overs of continuous spin.

  • Luka on November 22, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    To a certain extent, it is quite fair to ask for a turning pitch. Readers like @jmcilhinney should note that other countries DO get the types of pitches they want without much issues, hence they never need to bring it up. And when they don't, they get matches like Eng vs SA 2012 1st Test. It is only in India, and to a certain extent SL, that the curators are not governed by the captains wishes. Playing it safe has been India's motto, and the curators are just following suit by not creating a scenario where India loses and they get blamed. What I don't quite understand is why Dhoni doesnt ask BCCI to speak with the curators..maybe they too not have any power over the types of pitches, otherwise our Ranji platform would be more competitive and balanced...

  • Tahir on November 22, 2012, 15:48 GMT

    It was too obvious that Ashwin had his bag of tricks empty as the first test progressed and India also need a third spinner for which Bhajji is the fruntrunner due to his past figures as he is the turbanator. May be India want him to be the secret weapon unitl they win the second test. We are in a false impression that Yadav, ZAK refersed, it is not at all there was low bounce which helped them but dhoni missed chances due to that behind the wicket. On a bouncy pitch english top, middle lower order should find sweet spots with perfection.

  • enrique on November 22, 2012, 15:45 GMT

    Joe Root is part of the future of English Cricket; he can bowl too. Patel is a useful one-day cricketer but doesn't have quite the test match class morgan/jonny have. Jonny has done everything to regain his place: a good test v SA and warm-up runs. People are crying out for Monty so I guess he has to play. Assuming broad/finn are unavailable for selection: 1 A Cook 2 J Root 3 J Trott 4 KP (reluctantly) 5 E Morgan 6 J Bairstow 7 M Prior 8 G Swann 9 S Broad/S Meaker 10 J Anderson 11 Monty

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