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Manchester Test: Gambhir, Ashwin may make it to India's playing XI

Tomorrow's fourth Test could see the inclusion of offie R Ashwin & opener Gambhir in the playing XI

Manchester: For the first time in the series, India have been greeted with a pitch shorn of any grass, but the track at the Old Trafford is set to offer more pace and carry than any of the previous three pitches.

Ravichandran Ashwin bowls during the warm-up match against Derbyshire last month. Pics/Getty Images
Ravichandran Ashwin bowls during the warm-up match against Derbyshire last month. Pics/Getty Images 

The track here is also likely to aid turn as the match progresses, meaning off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin looks certain to win a place in the playing XI. Ashwin has been bowling regularly ever since the team hit the nets two days ago.

England also seemed certain about Ashwin's inclusion as each of their left-handed batsmen batted against two different off-spinners in the nets. But it remains to be seen who will be dropped to accommodate Ashwin.

Perhaps for the first time on this tour, Gautam Gambhir undertook a long batting session at the nets yesterday, giving ample indication that he will be opening the innings with Murali Vijay.

Gautam Gambhir during a practice session at Trent Bridge in Nottingham last month
Gautam Gambhir during a practice session at Trent Bridge in Nottingham last month 

If that happens, the out-of-form opener Shikhar Dhawan will be relegated to the bench. However, Gambhir was clearly struggling with his rhythm and finding it difficult to get his foot-work going.

Another batsman who went through a vigorous workout was Virat Kohli. India's vice-captain spent plenty of time practicing leaving the ball outside the off-stump as this is the area that has proved his undoing in the first three Tests.

Amongst the other clues that one gathered from India's nets was that the visitors are likely to attack English spinner Moeen Ali. Skipper MS Dhoni had observed at the conclusion of the third Test that Ali had succeeded because the Indians had allowed him to ball well.

That is something they want to rectify and Kohli could be seen attempting a lot of sweep shots. He received nearly 200 throw downs from fielding coach Trevor Penny.

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