Extra twist of spin gives visitors edge – Ganguly


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The Independent Online

Sourav Ganguly believes England have a major advantage over many teams touring India, and so should prove a match for their hosts.

The former India captain acknowledges that a trial by spin will test England's mettle, with R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha expected to form a formidable partnership on responsive pitches.

But unlike many who have travelled in hope, and returned disappointed, England have firepower of their own for the four-Test series. The front-line spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar – the latter is not sure to be selected, depending on the balance of England's team – are talented enough to convince Ganguly that Alastair Cook's tourists will be competitive.

Ganguly is not among those who reason that England's failings against Pakistan's spinners in their 3-0 defeat in the UAE last winter means they will be doomed here.

"Pakistan had two quality spinners – [Saeed] Ajmal and the left-arm spinner [Abdur Rehman] – it wasn't easy on those surfaces," he said. "England will have to bat well. But the advantage for them coming here is they have two quality spinners, which not many touring teams have.

"Not even Australia did when they were doing well – they just had Shane Warne, and we played him very well."

Swann, Panesar and possibly the all-rounder Samit Patel will have much in their favour. "There will not just be turn, but bounce," added Ganguly. "So they're a very good side to tour India, but it will all depend on how well they bat

"It's going to be a long tour, three warm-up matches and four Tests to follow, so a lot will depend on how much they want to be here."

India's fortunes will depend to a significant extent on the form of Sachin Tendulkar. At 39, the batsman is approaching the end of his great career and has struggled to reach his highest standards in recent times. But Ganguly warns that Tendulkar should never be underestimated.

Tendulkar made a century for Mumbai yesterday and Ganguly said: "We know he didn't have a good time in two Tests against New Zealand. But he came into that series without any cricket, after four months off. That is not going to be the case now, so he will be dangerous."