Will India's brave move to include trio fourth Test work on hard Old Trafford pitch?
Manchester: Gautam Gambhir, Ravichandran Ashwin and Varun Aaron are all set to be included in the playing XI at the expense of Rohit Sharma, Pankaj Singh and Shikhar Dhawan in today's fourth Test against England.
Cheteshwar Pujara (left) vies for the ball against R Ashwin during Team India's training session on the eve of the fourth Test against England at Old Trafford. Pic/PTI
After practice, Gambhir took time to go out to the pitch and visualise batting from both ends of the ground.
Ashwin, who like Gambhir, has had his workload raised in the nets leading up to the Test, bowled for long periods yesterday.
The positive aspect for India is that the lanky off-spinner looked in good form in the nets as he deceived the likes of Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja on a number of occasions with turn and bounce.
With Ashwin to pair up with Jadeja in the spin artillery, it means the duo will decrease the workload on the pace bowlers as they will bowl nearly half the overs in a day's play.
The flexibility the two spinners allow and the nature of the wicket have also convinced the think-tank to select pacer Varun Aaron. Aaron barely bent his back in the nets yesterday, probably to preserve himself for the Test given his hideous run of injures.
Will it spin?
Although India is set to play two spinners, one of the groundsmen is not convinced the pitch will offer significant turn as the match progresses. "It is very similar to the pitch we had against Australia last year.
If anything, it is a lot harder and probably the hardest we have got it this year," he told mid-day on match eve.
India have made brave moves, but their fortunes could well be decided by the toss and the way they bat.
India have never won a Test match at Old Trafford in eight matches played so far.