England set out for a huge challenge

England jet into Mumbai today under new captain Alastair Cook, striving to win their first Test series in India in 27 years against a home team desperate to make amends for last year’s 4-0 drubbing.

The four-Test series, starting in Ahmedabad on November 15, will be further spiced up by Kevin Pietersen’s return to the England fold after his exile and hints that Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar is on the brink of retirement.

Swann celebrates a wicket during the 2011 Lord’s Test vs WI in May

Yesterday, veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh agreed with teammate Virat Kohli’s comments about the need to prepare turning tracks which England are not used to.

It can be recalled that England demolished India 4-0 in their summer of 2011.

“A 4-0 scoreline (in India’s favour) would be a good score. We are playing at home, so naturally we will use our experience and conditions. There is no harm in it,” Harbhajan was quoted as saying by PTI at Indian Grand Prix.

Harbhajan made a comeback to the team in the World T20 in Sri Lanka. The Sardar has not played Test cricket for India since July 2011.

England, who became the World No 1 Test team in 2011 experienced a slide when they went to the Gulf to play Pakistan. More recently, they lost to South Africa at home.

Their ace spinner was candid in his chat with The Independent newspaper: “As a spinner it stands to reason that when you go to the subcontinent people are going to look to you and how you bowl. But if we do turn up just expecting the spinner to win the series for us then we’re screwed.

“The key to Test cricket is that the more you play the more confident you get and the more confident you get ergo you bowl more consistently. Having looked at the schedule I know two of the pitches might turn, in Kolkata and Mumbai. I am not sure about the other two. I have been reliably informed that Nagpur is the flattest wicket ever devised by groundsmen but that was by Cooky, who got a hundred there on his debut.”

Swann made his Test debut against the Indians at Chennai in 2008 and claimed four wickets in the Test which England lost by six wickets.

Nov 15-19: 1st Test, A’bad
Nov 23-27: 2nd Test, Mumbai
Dec 5-9: 3rdTest, Kolkata
Dec 13-17: 4th Test, Nagpur

T20 Series:
Dec 20: 1st T20, Pune
Dec 22: 2nd T20, Mumbai.

50-Over Series:
Jan 3: Arrival in New Delhi
Jan 6: Tour match, New Delhi
Jan 8: Tour match, New Delhi
Jan 11: 1st ODI, Rajkot
Jan 15 : 2nd ODI, Kochi
Jan 19 : 3rd ODI, Ranchi
Jan 23 : 4th ODI, Mohali
Jan 27 : 5th ODI, Dharamshala 

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