Dhoni out to put England in a spin as Ahmedabad pitch set to be a turner

18:01 14 November 2012

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

India are out to make the most of their famed home advantage as they test England with sub-continental spin in their four-Test series, starting in Ahmedabad tomorrow.

England alarmingly failed to come to terms with Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal on their way to a 3-0 defeat in the United Arab Emirates at the start of the year.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not about to make direct comparisons between ‘doosra’ expert Ajmal and his India team-mate Ravichandran Ashwin’s own box of tricks.

But as the India captain assessed England’s likely struggles in a country where they have not won a series for almost 30 years, he anticipates Ashwin and slow left-armer Pragyan Ojha may be among the tourists’ toughest challenges.

“You need to respect the opposition,” said Dhoni.

“Whichever country you are from, 60 or 70% of your cricket will be played at home - so you’re supposed to be good there.

“When you go to a different part of the world, it’s a fresh challenge for you.

“When we go to a different place, it’s the same for us. I think it will be the same for the English side here.”

The pitch at the Sardar Patel Stadium looks dry already, before a ball has been bowled, and Dhoni added: “I definitely think it will turn.”

As for his spin attack, completed by all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, he said: “Ashwin will always be a more aggressive bowler, in the sense he is someone who has plenty of variations and loves to use them.

“Ashwin can almost bowl each and every delivery anyone can bowl - he’s got the flipper, the googly, bowls leg-spin, off-spin, the ‘carrom’ ball...

“Ojha’s important role is to keep it tight, so that Ashwin can attack. But sometimes, of course, it can work the other way round as well.”

England will hope one of their key weapons is Kevin Pietersen, back in the fold after his well-chronicled summer of discontent.

Pietersen was added to the squad only after a period of ‘reintegration’ mended his disaffection with team-mates - but Dhoni was expecting him all along.

He is also looking forward to the resumption of Pietersen’s battles with Yuvraj.

The latter was the subject of less than complimentary remarks from Pietersen about his bowling, after his success against him on England’s last Test tour here four years ago.

Yuvraj, principally a batsman who bowls, is set to return to Test cricket after recovering from cancer.

He and Pietersen have become friends as well as fierce opponents, and it was Yuvraj who struck the first blow of the tour when he had his sparring partner caught-and-bowled for India A two weeks ago.

“I never doubted he would be part of the squad,” Dhoni said of Pietersen.

“He’s a great batsman, an aggressive batsman who loves to play his shots.

“We’ll enjoy the contest between him and the ‘pie-chucker’.”

India will be without fast bowler Ishant Sharma because of a virus, but otherwise have a fully fit squad to choose from tomorrow.

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