MOHALI // Owais Shah will aim to exploit England's disappointment at their failure to win the opening Test and force his way into their selection plans for Friday's final match against India. The Middlesex batsman was England's outstanding performer during their 5-0 one-day series defeat in India earlier, scoring three half-centuries to push his claims for a Test recall at Chennai.
But instead of considering Shah's recent form, England chose the same batting line-up for the opening Test, which finished the home series against South Africa last summer. Now England face another selection dilemma as they attempt to repeat the feat of two years ago by winning the last game to level the series. Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood, who were both under pressure, scored superb centuries at the Chepauk Stadium to ensure their participation although Ian Bell once again disappointed and could find himself under pressure.
It is by no means a foregone conclusion, however, that England will change their batting line-up at all with coach Peter Moores saying they have a big decision to make over the next two days. "It was probably one of the toughest decisions to not pick him [Shah] because he played beautifully [in the one-day series]," he said. "The challenge was to decide who to go with and that debate is a really tough one.
"We batted well as a unit and it was justified to give those lads a chance - I think the lads who played deserved their chance to carry on and they put us in with a chance to win the game. "It should be hard to get into a Test match team and you can always do more in all the cricket you play whether it's domestically or wherever to put people under pressure. "You have to take a call on what you think is the best team for the day." The tourists are almost certain to recall the Nottinghamshire seamer Stuart Broad to their line-up after his recovery from the hamstring strain he sustained during the one-day series.
He will either replace Graeme Swann if England decide on fielding only one spinner or take over from either Steve Harmison or James Anderson, who both disappointed when the tourists pressed for victory on the final day. Australia also decided to field only one spinner during their Test in October at Mohali, which has a reputation for being a bouncy pitch, but suffered the consequences when they slumped to a 320-run defeat.
Monty Panesar finished wicketless in 20 overs during the final day and rarely threatened to make a breakthrough. Moores said Panesar, 26,who was playing his 34th Test, still has time to develop into a world class finger spinner. "You have to be fair to him that he has not got enough time to prepare. If you look at Monty's record in Test match cricket it compares very favourably to a lot of spinners who have started out in the game and he's still very young in the game," he added.
* PA Sport