INDIA captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was last night accused of employing gamesmanship in an attempt to intimidate England on the eve of the second Test, which was set to begin in Mumbai this morning.
Australia spin great Shane Warne criticised Dhoni for demanding groundsmen at the Wankhede Stadium provide conditions that elicit maximum turn, against which England have repeatedly struggled.
“You know it’s a red soil, you know it’s going to spin. I don’t like a captain specifically asking the curator if we can have a big spin. I don’t think you should be asking for it. We know it’s going to spin,” said Warne.
“I think he is playing a few mind games with England batsmen. He just put some doubts in the English batsmen’s mind that we’re getting huge turning wicket. But I’m sure the pitch will be just the same. It is just mind games.”
It is the second time India have been accused of dirty tricks already this tour. The hosts were criticised for severely limiting the amount of practice England’s batsmen had in facing spin during the three warm-up matches that preceded the series.
England’s batsmen duly capitulated in the first Test in Ahmedabad, scoring just 191 in the first innings, with left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha taking a total of nine scalps in the match.
Captain Alastair Cook, whose 176 spared the tourists the humiliation of an innings defeat in the series opener, yesterday challenged his under-fire middle order to prove their critics wrong.
“In these conditions we haven’t played well enough to get results,” Cook said. “There’s no one else we can blame. We’ve been working hard in training – it’s about transferring that out into the middle.”
England have announced the dates for the Ashes series in Australia set to take place winter 2013-14
■ 21-25 Nov, 1st Test, Gabba, Brisbane
■ 5-9 Dec, 2nd Test, Adelaide Oval
■ 13-17 Dec, 3rd Test, WACA, Perth
■ 26-30 Dec, 4th Test, MCG, Melbourne
■ 3-7 Jan, 5th Test, SCG, Sydney