Pietersen prepared to face test of character

Captain seeks professional response from team as attention turns to series

These are confusing times for an England cricketer; even before he sits down to attempt to comprehend the safety and security aspects of his return to India. Six weeks ago in Antigua Kevin Pietersen's side were preparing for a $1m per man winner-takes-all Twenty20 festival match where the result was everything – yesterday, however, they were frantically trying to get in last-minute practice for a Test match in which the outcome, in many people's eyes, is irrelevant.

Pietersen's four months as England captain have been rather eventful but neither he nor his squad want the horrific events of last month's attacks in Mumbai, the team's brief return home or the uncertainty over whether they would return to India to act as an excuse in tomorrow's first Test here. In an attempt to draw a line under these unsettling events and to focus on the forthcoming Test series, England's touring party held a meeting yesterday morning at which they outlined their reasons for returning to India, and the way forward.

In a pre-written statement Alastair Cook said that the England team had returned to offer support to the Indian people, to extend their sincerest sympathy to the families who lost loved ones and, as cricketers first and foremost, to win a Test series against India. As a gesture of solidarity the team agreed to donate 50 per cent of their match fees for the game – approximately £35,000 in total – to the families of the Mumbai attack victims.

When confronted by the media yesterday Cook and Pietersen were keen to talk about cricketing issues rather than the security measures that have been put in place, but when 5,000 police officers, including 300 highly trained commandoes, have been assigned to guard them the topic is difficult to ignore. Among the crack troops protecting Pietersen's squad are men from the Rapid Action Force (RAF), the Special Action Group (SAG) and the Quick Reaction Team (QRT). Pietersen will be hoping their presence is not too distracting and does not lead to a spate of lbws.

"It may be viewed by many that we are in a no-lose situation but that is a way of negatively looking at the situation and finding excuses," Pietersen said. "I don't want any excuses over what has happened.

"I said to the guys that I want them to approach this match like a Test in England. In my four years with England we have often finished a one-day series against a country and had a week or 10 days off. We have then travelled on a Monday, practised on a Tuesday and Wednesday and played a Test on the Thursday. This is what we are doing here.

"What has happened has happened, we can't control that. But we are international cricketers that are proud to wear the three lions. We are playing two Tests in India and we are in a very privileged position, and we have to deal with it in a professional manner."

It is hard to believe India's players have spent much of the past fortnight preparing fortomorrow's encounter, but it is safe to say England's have had a more troubled journey to the M A Chidambaram Stadium. The hot, muggy and oppressive climate may take England's players some time to acclimatise to but it could offer the team's fast bowlers unexpected assistance. England's record in Chennai – three wins and a draw in seven previous Tests – offers encouragement too. Pitches in India are generally unresponsive for pacemen but this one is hard, which should offer Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison bounce at the start of the Test. The muggy, overcast conditions should also help James Anderson to swing the ball.

The absence of the injured Ryan Sidebottom and a rehabilitating Stuart Broad means that England will give a Test debut to either Amjad Khan or Graeme Swann. And with the conditions being as they are, it seems that Khan, a Denmark-born fast bowler with Pakistani heritage who plays for Kent, will get the nod ahead of the off-spinning Swann.

Pietersen and Peter Moores, the England coach, will have a couple of other tricky decisions to make before tomorrow morning. The first concerns the batting, and whether Owais Shah's impressive form in the one-day series merits a place in the side ahead of Paul Collingwood, or even Ian Bell.

The last concerns England's two travelling wicketkeepers – Matt Prior and Tim Ambrose. Prior kept wicket in the recent one-day series and struggled with the bat, while Ambrose played unconvincingly in England's last Test, the victory over South Africa at The Oval. The selectors will probably opt for Collingwood, Bell and Prior.

If Khan plays it would leave England with a long tail, which is not a good thing when your openers, Andrew Strauss and Cook, have had little middle practice in the past three months. The selectors may fudge this situation by batting Shah at six, Flintoff at seven and Prior at eight. But the move would leave Pietersen with only three seamers and Collingwood in debilitating yet seamer-friendly conditions.

"My head has been given a full working out over the past few days," admitted Pietersen. "But now the cricket brain has been switched on and decisions have to be made. With the rain around I don't know how much cricket we will get before the Test. We might have to adopt a 'best when fresh' approach."

India's strength is that they have every corner covered. The retirement of Sourav Ganguly gives Yuvraj Singh the chance to assert himself but Mahendra Singh Dhoni has seven classy batsmen at his disposal.

The Indian captain also has bowlers to exploit all conditions. Zaheer Khan can swing the ball around corners and Ishant Sharma can extract similar bounce to Harmison or Flintoff. Munaf Patel is a good seamer too. Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra are as good a spin pairing as any in Test cricket. The biggest dilemma facing India is who to leave out.

India (probable): M S Dhoni (capt), V Sehwag, G Gambhir, R Dravid, S R Tendulkar, V V S Laxman, Y Singh, H Singh, Z Khan, I Sharma, M M Patel.

England (probable): K P Pietersen (capt), A J Strauss, A N Cook, I R Bell, P D Collingwood, A Flintoff, M J Prior, A Khan, S J Harmison, J M Anderson, M S Panesar.

England's Chennai chance: Tourists' impressive record at first Test venue

1934 – England won by 202 runs

England outspun India in a low-scoring match with Hedley Verity, 13 for 153, and James Langridgem, 6 for 62, taking 17 wickets in the venue's first Test.

1952 – India won by an innings and eight runs

India returned the favour, with the left-arm leg-spin of Mulvantrai Mankad taking 12 for 108 as England were twice bowled out cheaply.

1973 – India won by four wickets

In another Test dominated by spin England were twice bundled out by the great spin triumvirate of Bishan Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Erapalli Prasanna. The trio shared 19 wickets. Pat Pocock took 8 for 142 as well.

1977 – England won by 200 runs

A low-scoring Test ended with India bowled out for 83 in their second innings. On this occasion Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Prassana were outbowled by John Lever, who took 7 for 77 in the match and Derek Underwood, with 6 for 44.

1982 – Draw

A high-scoring, tedious match reached an uneventful conclusion with England bowling all 10 fielders in India's second innings. Gundappa Viswanath scored a double-century for India and Graham Gooch struck 127 for England.

1985 – England won by nine wickets

Essex's Neil Foster bowled England to a memorable victory with match figures of 11 for 163. Graeme Fowler and Mike Gatting each scored a double hundred.

1993 – India won by innings and 22 runs

Sachin Tendulkar set the tone, scoring 165 as India amassed a first-innings total of 560. Anil Kumble then took eight wickets as England were thumped. Interestingly, the game featured one of Chris Lewis's finest performances for England. He scored 117 in the second innings.

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

John Moore starred in Coca Cola and Morrisons adverts

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
people

Former boxer recalls incident when he was seven years old

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes