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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 09:38 GMT
Jonathan Agnew column
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in Mohali

The Indian players examine the pitch with coach Greg Chappell
The surface will probably deteriorate more quickly than at Nagpur
Seam bowlers have dominated the majority of Test matches that have been played in Mohali.

But although the groundsman excited one or two English supporters by unveiling an emerald green pitch alongside a more traditional dry and cracked strip, it will be the spinner-friendly pitch that will be used for this Test.

This one looks even more over-prepared than at Nagpur; the cracks are well formed and clearly the pitch has been played on already this season.

This means that the bowlers' rough will play a role earlier in the game, and it seems as if the surface will probably deteriorate more quickly and dangerously for the batsmen than at Nagpur.

England have a full squad to choose from, but are likely only to make one change, with Ian Blackwell's position coming under threat either from Shaun Udal or Liam Plunkett.

The selectors will want to be sure in their own minds that this is not an occasion in which uneven bounce makes pace bowling a threat before turning to Udal, and he should prove to be a more capable partner to Monty Panesar than Blackwell, whose bowling was a liability in the first Test.

But for two dropped catches by Geraint Jones - mistakes he is determined not to repeat - England might well have won in Nagpur.

For a young team cobbled together in such haste, it was a remarkable effort, but there are still important lessons to learn from the experience.

Shuan Udal
Shaun Udal would add extra experience to England's attack

England's worst mistake was to bat poorly on the first day, and if they are fortunate enough to win the toss again, they really must seize the opportunity to ram home the advantage with an imposing first innings total.

India's onslaught on the final afternoon was certainly a reminder of what their star-studded batting line-up is capable of and, no doubt, part of the thinking behind it was to make England think twice about declaring in the future without a mountain of runs behind them.

Fortunately for England, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison appear to have recovered from their labours that afternoon during which Harmison looked a revitalised bowler.

He has really struggled over the past 18 months, starting from his under-prepared tour of South Africa.

From number one in the world, he has taken his wickets at 37 runs each since then with only two five-wicket hauls - one of which was against Bangladesh.

But spurred on by the pressure of the situation in Nagpur, he ran in with real purpose and regularly hit 90 miles per hour.

If he can sustain that rhythm here, India might have cause to regret their counter-attack.




SEE ALSO
India grounds profiled
13 Feb 06 |  Cricket
England in India 2006
08 Dec 05 |  Future tour dates


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