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We may play two spinners: Fletcher

Monty could earn his first England cap with the visitors looking at playing two spinners in the first Test against India.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 20:00 IST

Monty Panesar could earn his first England cap with the visitors looking at playing two spinners in the first Test against India on Wednesday.

The track at the Vidharba Cricket Stadium was dry and promised lot of turn, a contrast to its appearance two seasons ago when the local curator rolled out a grassy, bouncy wicket against Australia who went on to win the match and clinch the four-Test series 2-1 in 2004.

England coach Duncan Fletcher said, "there are very good chances of two spinners playing."

Panesar, Ian Blackwell and Shaun Udal are the three spinners in the 16-member England squad.

At the start of the tour, the idea of England playing two spinners was very much in the realms of fancy.

The visitors' attack was pace oriented and the slow bowler was seen as only playing the containing role. Even there, Blackwell was seen as the frontrunner with his better batting abilities at number eight.

But the loss of Simon Jones to a damaged cartilage in the left knee after he fell on the follow through during practice on Monday has obviously changed the gameplan.

Should he play, Panesar would be the first Sikh to play for England.

England were also without skipper Michael Vaughan and his deputy Marcus Trescothick. And there were injuries to Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and right arm pacer Liam Plunkett.

Fletcher looked at the unfortunate developments as an opportunity for younger players to stand up and be counted.

"It was not the ideal preparation going into the series. But the morale of the team is very good. The developments have given chances to some new players (to rise to the occasion). You never know what these changes can do," Fletcher said.

"We had not beaten Australia for a long time till we did so (in the last Ashes battle). Similarly all the team members want to beat India in India. We are pretty confident we can do it," said the coach.

The tourists have not won a Test series here since David Gower's men achieved the feat in 1984-85.

The coach also gave thumbs up for Flintoff as captain by saying that the exciting Lancashire player was very keen to do the job.

"We believed he was the best man to do the job. More importantly he was very keen to do it," he said.

Fletcher insisted that Pietersen, who developed back problems during the three-day first class lead up game at Baroda against the Board President's XI, was 100 per cent fit to play.

First Published: Feb 28, 2006 16:45 IST