Cook & Co eager to tie all the loose ends

Visitors face Haryana in their final warm-up tie

England batsmen will look to tie up all the loose ends as far as playing spin bowling is concerned when they meet Haryana in their third and final warm-up match ahead of the upcoming four-Test series against India, here on Thursday.

England go into the match having drawn the first two matches, against India ‘A’ and Mumbai ‘A’.

The visitors were, however, deprived of opportunities to test themselves against quality spin bowling as the hosts did not include any top-grade tweakers in the playing XI.

Two days ahead of the match, the pitch had a fairly thick cover of grass over it, something the visiting side is not expected to see when the first Test starts here on November 15.

While the Test will be held at the main ground, Thursday’s game will be played at the Motera B ground.

With India including three frontline spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha besides Yuvraj Singh, the England middle-order comprising Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior will be keen to utilise the game to the hilt, spending as much time as possible in the middle.

That they are used to playing Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and Samit Patel at home will be of some help, but tackling the conditions here is a different ball game altogether.

England will also hope that their openers get decent hits over the next four days.

Also looking to get some practice will be No 3 bat, Jonathan Trott, who has not been in the best of form since the start of 2012 — he had signalled his arrival on the international scene in 2009 with a century against Australia and was instrumental in helping England regain the Ashes.

Injury has kept Steven Finn away from the first two warm-up games (the pacer could bowl only four overs against India ‘A’) and he would be eager to have a bowl before the big game starts.

Stuart Broad’s left heel was also a cause for concern for the visitors. Broad, who was stand-in captain in the match against Mumbai ‘A’, was taken for a scan after he complained of discomfort. He could be rested to get ready in time for the first Test.

“Broad’s injury was a lesser concern while Finn’s condition was being monitored,” wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior had said on Wednesday.

For Haryana, it is a huge opportunity — playing against a top international side like England. They lost their Ranji Trophy opener to Vidarbha but coach Ashwini Kumar seemed optimistic.

“The England game is a great opportunity for us. We can definitely push them. They know nothing about our players while we have videos of all their players. We can surprise them,” Kumar was reported to have said in the media.

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