A day before England’s last warm-up tie — they take on Haryana today — Graeme Swann returned home to spend time with his daughter who is unwell, said a media release. While Swann is expected to be available for the first Test in Ahmedabad, it’s the latest in a series of setbacks for the Englishmen. Their preparation for the four Tests against India has already been hampered by injuries to Steve Finn and Stuart Broad.
Haryana, who were dismissed for 55 against Vidarbha, are hardly the kind of opponent that should test England’s wares. For the tourists, the only ‘incentive’ perhaps is the presence of a spinner in the Haryana team in the form of skipper Amit Mishra. Why should Ian Bell, who hasn’t been among the runs here, mind even that?
But if anything, it’s Haryana who stand to benefit from this encounter. Whether they are able to lift themselves by playing a world-class side remains to be seen. “Certainly, this is going to be big opportunity for youngsters, as a good performance against an international team will boost their confidence. But we are not going overboard and taking it as just another game,” Mishra said.
Meanwhile, promising seamer Harshal Patel is nursing an injury and is a doubtful starter. Patel was one of the outstanding performers in the last Ranji season. As a junior cricketer, he had played a lot of matches for Gujarat at the Motera B ground. “I distinctly remember my five-for in an U-19 final here,” said a nostalgic Patel, who was expecting a clearance from his doctor.
While the first Test will be held at the main ground, Thursday’s game will be played at Motera ‘B’. The surface, which has a sprinkling of grass, is not quite different than the ones dished out to the visitors in the two practice matches in Mumbai.