Practice perfect for India

The Indian selectors have unveiled part two of their effort to stymie England's quest for thorough preparation against the turning ball before the start of the Test series. On Wednesday, the BCCI selection panel, chaired by Sandeep Patil, hadn't named a single spinner in the India 'A' squad to take on the England XI in their first tour game. On Friday, The Mumbai Cricket Association's (MCA) selection panel, also chaired by Sandeep Patil, named only one spinner, leggie Sagar Gorivale, in the Mumbai 'A' team that will face the tourists in their second warm-up game.

While looking to minimise England's gains from the practice games, Patil and co. have spared no effort to use them to India's advantage. The opening slots represent one of India's long-term worries. The selectors have packed the squads for the warm-up games with as many contenders as possible. The India 'A' squad contains the Tamil Nadu duo of Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund, and originally also included Shikhar Dhawan. With the match coinciding with Dhawan's wedding date, he had to be replaced with Ambati Rayudu. But the selectors found a neat way to ensure Dhawan got to face the English bowling — they picked the Delhi opener in the Mumbai 'A' squad, as a guest player. They also included Saurashtra's Cheteshwar Pujara.

"Both the players will be special invitees for the Mumbai 'A' side while the rest of the team will comprise local players," said MCA joint-secretary Nitin Dalal.

Pujara, who has taken over the number three slot in the Test team following Rahul Dravid's retirement, welcomed the opportunity for match practice and exposure to England's attack.

"As my state Saurashtra isn't playing any Ranji Trophy game in the first week of November, this will be ideal preparation for me. I wanted to have match practice and facing England will certainly give me some confidence. Before playing the Tests, I will have some knowledge of their bowling attack," Pujara said.

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