Harmison ready for Indian challenge

The England pacemen said last year's tour of Pakistan had taught the bowlers ways to cope with the slow, low wickets.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 20:55 IST

Steve Harmison said last year's tour of Pakistan had taught England's fast bowlers ways to cope with the slow, low wickets expected in the Test series against India.

"All the bowlers have come here with eyes wide open, knowing that the pitches for the three Tests would be quite flat," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

The visitors play a three-day tour match against an Indian Board President's XI starting on Thursday before the first Test in Nagpur from March 1.

"We have already spent about six weeks in Pakistan," the 27-year-old said, referring to the 2-0 setback that followed a euphoric 2-1 Ashes victory.

"I thought we bowled quite well in Pakistan. We let things get away in Lahore. I think we are up to it, we are prepared for it," he said.

The visitors face fitness concerns over five players in their 16-man squad for the warm-up match.

Three spinners, Shaun Udal, Ian Blackwell and Monty Panesar, and fast bowler Simon Jones are suffering from a stomach bug while all-rounder Paul Collingwood is yet to recover from a back injury sustained during the first warm-up match in Mumbai which England won by 238 runs.

"I think I learned in Pakistan that you bowl according to the situation you are actually put in at a time.

"I think whatever (Michael) Vaughan wants us to do, we have to be prepared to do that. All three seamers, four seamers or two spinners or whatever we play, I think it is a plain situation. It is just how quickly we adapt to it, the better we bowl."

Harmison said the England pace-pack, comprising Jones, Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Flintoff and himself, possesses the variety to counter Indian conditions.

"We have got most bases covered, we have got two bowlers who can bowl at quite a lively pace, hit the deck hard. Simon bowls at a lively pace and swings it, and reverse swings it."

Harmison said England would use the tour match to fine tune themselves for the first test.

"I think the second innings here the bowlers have to be bowling pretty flat out and the batters have to be pretty switched on mentally.

"It's about our guys getting good preparation, about our top six batsmen getting a few runs and spending time at the crease and the bowlers getting overs under the belt."

From India's point of view, the tour match could decide who opens the batting with Virender Sehwag.

Captained by India player Venugopala Rao, the home team boasts of a clutch of internationals, including Test openers Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer.

Gambhir and Jaffer were part of the Test squad in Pakistan, but did not play in any of the three matches.

The President's XI's pace attack will be led by Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who has impressed in one-dayers, and squad hopefuls Vikram Rajvir Singh, Munaf Patel and Shib Shankar Paul.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 20:55 IST