Just as how India face some serious issues ahead of the November 5 Test selection, the visiting Englishmen have a few points to ponder over.
The first and foremost will be who will replace the recently-retired Andrew Strauss at the top of the order. Joe Root, the 21-year-old right-handed batsman who averages a shade less than 40 in first-class cricket, has a chance to go one up against contender Nick Compton, who failed to score in the first practice-game against India ‘A’, when England take on a young Mumbai ‘A’ in their second practice-game at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai from Saturday.
Root is among the five players who were left out of the first practice game and will look to finding form straightaway, ahead of the gruelling Test series and stake claim to walk out with Cook, who has been a prolific scorer for England since making his Test debut in 2006 in Nagpur.
England will also hope that Stuart Broad hits the right areas on a track that will make the new ball bowlers happy early on and what promises to have bounce. Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar will be keen to return to the Test XI. However, he has to do extraordinarily well to challenge Samit Patel, especially after Patel has shown he can bat better than the bunny-with-the-bat that we all know of the first Sikh in an England shirt.
The young Mumbai ‘A’ side, led by the attacking Suryakumar Yadav, who made 249 on the very ground three years ago in an under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy match against Jharkhand.
Mumbai’s batting mainstays will be ‘outsiders’ in Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and Test hopeful Shikhar Dhawan besides Yadav. “While I have played with them both, it is a big opportunity for the others in the side to get the positives from them, learn a lot from the players with international experience,” said Yadav on Friday.
The three-day affair is a platform for the second string Mumbai players whose efforts in the recent CK Nayudu Trophy matches against Madhya Pradesh and Baroda have been rewarded with a game against the Englishmen.
“It is a good opportunity for people who are in the running for Ranji Trophy selection. For us, it is a big game,” Yadav, who is yet to due for some runs this year given his immense talent.
Himself known to score quick runs and then falling to rash strokes, Yadav said he will look to staying at the crease longer. “My coach and captain gave me full freedom to bat as I wanted but I’ve been playing bad strokes when the team needed me in the middle. I have changed my game a bit, staying on the wicket will be my strategy this year. I can play my shots any time.”