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Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Pietersen praises collective move

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Pietersen proud to show solidarity

England captain Kevin Pietersen insists he did not have to persuade any of his Test squad to fly back to India following the Mumbai terror attack.

Before boarding a flight to England's holding camp in Abu Dhabi, he added that if necessary there would be a collective decision to come home.

The first of two Tests is scheduled to take place in Chennai from 11 December.

"It's fantastic the guys want to go and rub shoulders together with India at a time of need," said Pietersen.

"It's a huge stance by this England team to jump on the plane and go and do the business."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the England players as "brave and courageous".

Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid, 20, was a late addition to the back-up "performance" squad of nine, meaning a total of 23 England players were on the flight to the United Arab Emirates.

Once they have reached Abu Dhabi, the squad will await security reports before travelling to India on Monday.

I didn't persuade anybody, I respect everybody's individual concern and respect their decisions - they are men at the end of the day

Kevin Pietersen
Meanwhile, Indian airports were put on high alert on Thursday following warnings of possible airborne attacks. Security was stepped up at city airports across the country, including the one in Chennai.

Indian Air Chief Marshal Fali Major said: "This is based on a warning which has been received by the government and we are prepared as usual."

ECB managing director Hugh Morris said he was in the process of finding out more information about that development.

"We are obviously concerned but what we need to do is find out the situation," he said.

"I've spoken to our security team out in Chennai and when more information is fed back to me that will form part of the security audit."

India's Rapid Deployment Force manned roadblocks outside a number of airports, while guards patrolled among passengers, some of whom had their bags checked six times on domestic flights.

The players are scheduled to arrive in Abu Dhabi at about 0300 local time on Friday (2300 GMT Thursday).

Their hastily-arranged camp will include two full practice sessions on Saturday and Sunday before a potential trip to India on Monday.

Another two sessions would take place in Chennai but there is no time for a warm-up match before facing world cricket's in-form nation.

Pietersen spoke of "buying ourselves more time in Abu Dhabi", but was optimistic the Tests would go ahead.

He went on: "There's a collective now. The guys are just waiting on reports from Reg [Dickason, the ECB security adviser] on Sunday night. If there are any alarm bells ringing the collective decision will be to come home.

"But we are very focused on playing red-ball cricket. Everybody has become a bit more open-minded about their decision. They've spoken to family members and they have realised that it's pretty huge to go back to India.

"I didn't persuade anybody, I respect everybody's individual concern and respect their decisions - they are men at the end of the day. I think it's very clear that nobody was told what to do."

There had been speculation Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison would refuse to go back to India.

Pietersen explained: "They became a lot more open-minded which is fantastic because they are two big players and we certainly want them in our team."

Things like this often pull teams tighter together and we hope to give it our best shot in the two Test matches

Peter Moores
India were beating England 5-0 before the seven-match one-day series was abandoned having earlier earned a comprehensive 2-0 home victory over Australia in a Test series.

England have not played Test cricket since beating South Africa at The Oval on 11 August, although they lost the series 2-1.

"Our preparations are going to be compromised in many ways through circumstances," said coach Peter Moores. "We're in Abu Dhabi, where we're not going to play [a match].

"The facilities, I think, are going to be OK but we haven't had a chance to check them out, which we normally would, and the timeframe is very short.

"We've got a lot of work to do to get mentally in the right place and also physically and technically ready to go."

Ryan Sidebottom will miss the tour after failing to recover from a side strain picked up during the abandoned one-day series.

Fellow seamer Stuart Broad has stayed behind to receive treatment for a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the first Test but will join up with the squad in Chennai, where his fitness will be reviewed ahead of the second match in Mohali from 19 December.

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With England's three-day warm-up match in Baroda was cancelled, the performance squad will help prepare the Test side for competitive action.

They include Ravi Bopara, Sajid Mahmood, Samit Patel and Liam Plunkett.

"We'll have a bowling camp in Abu Dhabi and there will be 10 seamers and some spinners, who we can use to help us practice," added Moores.

"We need to give the batsmen some decent time in the middle to get the best practice they can.

Abu Dhabi would welcome Test series

"Everyone has gone away, had a chance to see their families, things have settled down a little bit and we have a chance now to go back, refocus and play cricket.

"The [security] situation looks positive and everyone has just got to assume we're going to play and prepare in that manner.

"Things like this often pull teams tighter together and we hope to give it our best shot in the two Test matches."


England squad for the two-Test tour of India:

KP Pietersen (capt, Hampshire), TR Ambrose (wkt, Warwickshire), JM Anderson (Lancashire), IR Bell (Warwickshire), SCJ Broad (Nottinghamshire), PD Collingwood (Durham), AN Cook (Essex), A Flintoff (Lancashire), SJ Harmison (Durham), MS Panesar (Northants), MJ Prior (wkt, Sussex), OA Shah (Middlesex), AJ Strauss (Middlesex), GP Swann (Nottinghamshire).

Performance squad: RS Bopara (Essex), MA Davies (Durham), RH Joseph (Kent), A Khan (Kent), SI Mahmood (Lancashire), SR Patel (Nottinghamshire), LE Plunkett (Durham), OP Rayner (Sussex), A Richardson (Middlesex), AU Rashid (Yorkshire).

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see also
England set to resume India tour
03 Dec 08 |  England
Prior ready to return to India
03 Dec 08 |  Sussex
England wait on security report
29 Nov 08 |  England
How Mumbai attacks unfolded
30 Nov 08 |  South Asia
PCB chief fears divide in cricket
29 Nov 08 |  Pakistan
India tour of Pakistan in doubt
01 Dec 08 |  Pakistan
Police declare Mumbai siege over
29 Nov 08 |  South Asia
Jonathan Agnew column
28 Nov 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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