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  • Mumbai A v England XI, tour match, Mumbai

Cook & Prior rested for second outing

Alex Winter
November 2, 2012 « Venus sinks Serena in Nigeria | Chartbeat test »
Alastair Cook's century in the opening game allows him the chance to rest for the second tour match © Associated Press
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Alastair Cook will be rested for England's second tour match against Mumbai A on Saturday with Stuart Broad, named England vice-captain last week, leading the side in his first appearance on the tour of India.

Graeme Swann and Matt Prior will also be rested, with Jonny Bairstow taking over as wicketkeeper having passed a fitness test. Steven Finn was already ruled out with a thigh injury with Graham Onions likely to replace him.

The absence of Cook, who scored 119 in the draw with India A, will give Joe Root the opportunity to open the innings with Nick Compton, presenting the potential of a head-to-head for a spot in the first Test on November 15.

Compton was picked ahead of Root for the opening match of the tour at the Brabourne Stadium but made a third ball duck. He may be the preferred partner for Cook in the opening Test but needs to prove his form to secure his place in Ahmedabad.

"With Ian Bell going home for the birth of his first child, we've got to make sure that the batter who's going to come in for the second Test gets some practice in," Cook, who was satisfied with a "really good first week" on Indian soil, said. "We're trying to give everyone as much game time as we can. That is the idea of these next two games, to make sure we get as many people as possible some practice."

Wicketkeeper Prior is the other player set to be rested for the match at the DY Patil Sports Academy, with Bairstow, the second keeper in the squad, replacing him. Bairstow picked up a thigh injury but passed a fitness test allowing Prior to rest ahead of the first Test.

England's other confirmed change is out of necessity. Finn will not take part having left the field on the first morning of the draw with India A with a thigh strain. A scan revealed his injury is not serious but his place in Ahmedabad will be in doubt if he does not recover in time for England's final warm up match, a four-day fixture against Haryana.

Finn's injury potentially leaves a spot available in England's preferred three-man pace attack. Onions will stake his claim by replacing Finn with Broad's inclusion allowing James Anderson, who sent down 24.1 overs in the opening match, to rest.

Onions returned from what was once considered a career-threatening back injury in 2010 to make his England comeback in the third Test against West Indies at Edgbaston in June. He will hope to stake a claim for inclusion in the first Test should Finn not recover. Tim Bresnan, who took four wickets and scored 33 not out, will also be in contention to replace Finn in the first Test.

Finn's injury, and the pitch in Ahmedabad, may also require England to consider the make-up of their side.

"Clearly balance is going to be very important," Cook said. "We're going to have to be able to adapt to whatever surface we're going to play on. Whether we play two spinners or three seamers, we're going to have to try and find the best balance, which we feel will give us the best chance of winning. We've got to be flexible in selection."

England are likely to utilise Samit Patel at No. 6, his century in the opening match confirming his value. His left-arm spin will compliment specialist spinner Swann, who will enter the first Test one wicket short of Jim Laker's tally of 193 wickets - the most by an England offspinner.

"There's always pressure on the spinner when you play in India, because people assume all the wickets will be big turners," Swann said. "You've just got to deal with that in your own way, because we know that a lot of the Test wickets over here are exceptional batting surfaces - at least to start, and then turn later on.

"It's not a lot different to other places. Often in the first innings you have to take a more defensive role and support the seamers a bit more and then later on in the game, if there is turn and bounce, then of course you come into your own.

"It's a pressure that's not alien to a spin bowler; if you're not used to that, you shouldn't really be bowling spin."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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