Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Absent pair unlikely to trouble stuttering England

The news that both Steven Finn and Ian Bell are out of the second Test in Mumbai later this week is unlikely to upset England’s preparations for the match after a dismal performance in the first clash against India left a lot to be desired.

Finn picked up a thigh injury against India A, two weeks before the first Test in Ahmedabad, yet was only in slight contention for a place in the bowling attack anyway.

And, after England’s appalling seam-bowling display last week that saw just one wicket taken in 72 overs, captain Alastair Cook is unlikely to add another seamer to his arsenal and instead is expected reduce his pacemen to two in place of another spinner as he looks to defy the latestcricket odds in Mumbai next week.

Bell, meanwhile, returned home for the birth of his first child following a poor display at the crease in the first Test. The right-hander was caught first ball to spinner Pragyan Ojha before being nicked lbw for just 22 in the second innings. With both Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root on hand as competent replacements, Bell’s presence at fifth man shouldn’t be missed.

In fact, these two absentees should ease Cook’s selection decisions as the pressure builds to eradicate the mistakes of the first Test. England, who are now vast outsiders according to the latest Betfair India v England odds, need another spinner in their ranks and Finn’s absence means selecting Monty Panesar is now a straight-forward decision to make. Bell’s absence also means there is no pressure to drop Samit Patel, who’s ability to bat and bowl could be crucial to England’s fortunes this week.

Indeed, selecting either Bairstow or Root as Bell’s cover will do wonders for either youngster on the toughest tour on the planet. India’s turning wickets are like few others in the world and for one of this pair to get the chance to bat on the subcontinent will only enrich their international pedigree.   

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