England ready for another trial by spin at Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Last Updated: December 5, 2012 3:53am
England are considering changing a winning team for the third Test against India, starting in Kolkata on Wednesday.
The tourists, bidding for a first series success in India since 1985, earned a 10-wicket victory in Mumbai last week to level at 1-1 with two to play.
The foundation of that victory was the performance of spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, who shared 19 wickets to earn their first Test win together at the eighth attempt.
Panesar and Swann are certain to continue their double act on what is expected to be another turning wicket at Eden Gardens but vice-captain Stuart Broad's place in the starting XI is under threat.
Broad has gone wicketless in the first two Tests and that poor form, coupled with the return to fitness of Steven Finn after a thigh strain, could see the 52-Test veteran dropped.
The other likely alteration is Ian Bell for Jonathan Bairstow in the middle order. Bell missed the second Test to allow him to be at home for the birth of his first child.
The pitch at Eden Gardens has been the subject of a row between groundsman Prabir Mukherjee and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Dhoni wanted a "square turner" prepared according to Mukherjee, a demand the 83-year-old dismissed as "immoral."
The wicket is the same one that was used for a Ranji Trophy game between Bengal and Gujarat two weeks ago and one thing is predictable - the captain who wins the toss will bat first.
That has been the case in the 12 Tests at the venue since Pakistan captain Imran Khan chose to bowl in 1987.
England have not played a Test at Eden Gardens since 1993 and in nine attempts they have only won there once, in 1977.
Spinners Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin have good memories after combining for 10 wickets in India's innings victory over West Indies last year.
India have five wins and two draws since in Kolkata since a narrow defeat to Pakistan in 1999 and have made in excess of 600 before declaring their first innings in each of the last three Tests at the ground.
The home side have a 15-man squad to choose from with seamers Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda competing with spinner Harbhajan Singh for the final place in the bowling attack.