England spent nearly four hours at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday morning. Two days after it was thrashed in the first Test by nine wickets at Motera, England’s think-tank — Andy Flower, Graham Gooch and Alastair Cook — have had little time to introspect.
The second Test will begin here on Friday and what is obvious is England’s anxiousness to improve its batting potential. It knew all along that dad-in-waiting Ian Bell will fly home to be with his wife and hence a replacement had to be made anyway. Cook & Co. cannot afford to go down in the second Test; once that happens it would be hard pressed to reverse the trend in the remaining two Tests at Kolkata and Nagpur.
It is possible England is seriously considering left-hander Eoin Morgan and also Jonny Bairstow for the middle-order spots. The argument in favour of the left-hander (Morgan) is that both Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha had a hard time bowling to Cook and never looked like getting the better of him on a fourth-day wicket at Motera.
Morgan’s attacking approach may be quite different from that of Cook, but England is most likely to consider Morgan at the expense of Samit Patel. The left-hander may have been unfortunate in the first Test (doubtful decisions), but with left-arm spinner Monty Panesar almost certain to play, Patel may warm the bench.
England will pick the team only after it has a good look at the wicket on Friday morning; an important call it has to take is on the merit of retaining seamer Tim Bresnan who batted for 70 and 75 minutes at Motera.
The second Test will be played on a wicket on which Mumbai and Railways played the first round Ranji Trophy match from November 2 to 5.
Mumbai made 570 with three centuries (Ajinkya Rahane 129, Sachin Tendulkar 137 and Abhishek Nayar 107 not out) and 230 for five and Railways made 426 without a century knock from anyone.
The ground staff, with Sudhir Naik as the chief, had a clear 15 days to prepare the pitch for the Test and, if sources are to be believed, the pitch was watered and rolled sufficiently until Monday.
Jonathan Trott, who had an extra net session, said that it was a typical red soil wicket (practice net), with slow turn, and encouraging bounce.
India drew the last Test here against the West Indies exactly a year ago; Ashwin took nine wickets and Ojha seven.
After the match Ashwin said he felt cheated by the lack of bounce in the match pitch, whereas there was bounce in the practice pitch.