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March 7, 2006
"I have played here before and there is a bit more in it for the seamers," said Andrew Flintoff. "The conditions here suggest a little bit more bounce and a little bit more pace, so possibly we have a decent chance of winning.
"The one thing we learnt last time was wickets were hard to come by and while we were not taking wickets we had to keep the runs down to build pressure that way. That is probably something we have taken on from last time - we are not coming into the unknown in touring India."
The hints coming out of the England camp are that Ian Blackwell is likely to make way for Liam Plunkett at No. 8 to bolster the seam bowling. India, meanwhile, may consider handing a debut to Munaf Patel who took 10 wickets against England for the Board President's XI before the first Test.
Blackwell's original inclusion was as much for his batting as spin bowling, but Plunkett has shown the ability to score runs at international level with a half-century in the one-day series against Pakistan.
Plunkett's lively seam bowling would also give Flintoff another option and ease the workload on himself, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard. England's bowling performance at Nagpur, especially in the first innings, was based around creating pressure on the Indian batsmen, but Blackwell could not really produce the required control.
"We went out there with a definite plan," said Flintoff. "Building up to it we spoke about how we were going to bowl, how we were going to attack the Indians and field positions. We went out there with a definite plan of what we were going to do and we stuck to that."
The teams still don't know which pitch they will be playing on after the PCA Stadium groundsman, Daljit Singh, prepared two - something that isn't uncommon on the sub-continent. But despite recent overnight rain, whichever pitch is chosen is expected to be dry.
Singh explained that he had to produce a couple of pitches because of amount of cricket that has been played this season. "It is not my intention to put people on tenterhooks but that is how it is because of the weather.
"We would have nominated the pitch to the two teams today but the rain means we will make a decision on which one tomorrow. We are at the end of a very hectic cricket season, these wickets have been over-used, so it made sense to prepare two."
Out of the six Tests staged at Mohali four have ended in draws, but there has been enough success for seamers to indicate they will have a vital role to play. In 1999-2000, Dion Nash took 6 for 27 to skittle India for 83, while in the same match Javagal Srinath took 6 for 45. Then, in last year's India-Pakistan clash Lakshmipathy Balaji took 5 for 76 in the first innings, but both those matches eventually ended in bat-dominated draws.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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