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India bid to put England in a spin

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INDIA look set to beef up their spin options for their blockbuster clash against England on Sunday (February 27) as both sides face the first major Test of their World Cup credentials.

India, strongly fancied to add a second World Cup trophy to their 1983 success, are expected to go into the day-night match with a second specialist spinner in addition to their clutch of part-timers.

Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla looks likely to join off-spinner Harbhajan Singh at the expense of paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who proved expensive in the win against co-hosts Bangladesh.

Chawla, on the same track that will be used for the England match, put in a strong showing against defending champions Australia in a warm-up game, bagging four wickets in his team's victory.

But curator Narayan Raju said the pitch would not be as spin-friendly as it was for that game, adding: “We have been working on the wicket and it will not spin as much as it during the warm-up game.”

England go into the match concerned more about their bowling than batting form after successfully overhauling the Netherlands’ big total of 292-6 in their opening match in Nagpur.

Captain Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott cracked impressive half-centuries, while Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and Ravi Bopara also looked in good touch.

But it needed a rescue act from the batsmen after England proved shoddy in the field, with wayward fast bowling and dropped catches.

“Hopefully India will take us lightly after this performance. We generally raise our games against better sides,” Strauss said.

Bopara, unfazed by the nature of the wicket in Bangalore, said his team also had the spinners to trouble India on a slow turning track.

“If it is a spinning deck we have got our own spinners who can cause problems. A pitch that spins is going to cause trouble for any team. It is going to cause problems for India as well,” said Bopara.

England must decide whether to recall left-arm slow bowler Michael Yardy in support of off-spinner Graeme Swann, whose return of 2-35 was a rare highlight during a forgettable bowling display against the Dutch.

India boast a huge array of batting firepower with Virender Sehag and Virat Kohli hammering centuries to help their side post a mammoth 370-4 in their opening fixture against Bangladesh, enough for a convincing 87-run win.

Munaf Patel gave a textbook example of seam bowling on subcontinental pitches, maintaining a full length and good line on his way to 4-48 against Bangladesh.

England are not renowned for the way they play spin and former India all-rounder Ravi Shastri believes the significance of the match will extend beyond the result for co-hosts India.

“Victory against England will make it two-out-of-two and we would be almost certain to make it to the quarter-finals,” Shastri said.

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