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Selection worries for England

England have a host of selection issues to grapple with. Ian Bell's struggle for runs at No. 3 means that Owais Shah has a good chance of getting a look in. The other major issue is finding space for Stuart Broad, reports Anand Vasu.

cricket Updated: Dec 18, 2008 01:51 IST
Anand Vasu

From heat and humidity in Chennai it's over to cool Mohali. England arrived at practice on Wednesday morning and had a full work out while their Indian counterparts had a lighter session in the afternoon. Both teams would have taken a look at the pitch, for it could well decide what composition is the best bet.

Daljit Singh, the curator, said that they would be using the same pitch on which India and Australia played their last Test. The only difference from then and now is that the drop in temperature has meant that the curator has had to leave the pitch on the dry side.

There was some live grass on the surface, but whether that will still be the case on Friday remains to be seen. The high clay content has meant that there are cracks in the surface. The curator remains confident that though these cracks may widen no chunks will come off the surface. England have a host of selection issues to grapple with. Ian Bell's struggle for runs at No. 3 means that Owais Shah has a good chance of getting a look in. The other major issue is finding space for Stuart Broad. Now that he is fit again there's no doubt that he will come right back into the mix.

The obvious candidate to make way is Monty Panesar. Although Kevin Pietersen would not point fingers at any one player it seems clear that Panesar did not do enough in Chennai. India, by comparison, wear a settled look. While Rahul Dravid's struggle for runs continues, it's easier for the team go maneuver around him when they are doing well. For the moment Dravid enjoys the confidence of the captain and other senior players and this should be enough to keep India from taking any drastic steps.

Yuvraj Singh's innings means the focus will be on him when he plays at home in the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali. The response of crowds to Test cricket has been disappointing in the past and the PCA is doing all it can to address the issue. Having two boys from the state, the other being Harbhajan, won't hurt in pulling in the crowds, and this is something the association is banking on.