x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pietersen playing the waiting game

The captain Kevin Pietersen delays naming his line-up until just before the toss as England searched for a winning formula.

The Indian batsman Rahul Dravid waits for his turn in the nets during a training session at the PCA stadium on the eve of the second Test.
The Indian batsman Rahul Dravid waits for his turn in the nets during a training session at the PCA stadium on the eve of the second Test.

MOHALI // The captain Kevin Pietersen delayed naming his line-up until just before the toss on Friday as England searched for a winning formula. Pietersen prefers to name his side a day in advance of matches, but he said: "There are a few things we are thinking about.

"There are guys who have come on this trip who are raring to go and wanting to play and it's just about making a decision on who the best team is to try and win a Test match and try and play positive cricket." Since marking the start of his captaincy with victory in the final Test against South Africa at the Oval and winning the subsequent one-day series, Pietersen's England have struggled and lost both the Stanford showdown in Antigua and the one-day series in India 5-0.

Despite dominating the opening Test in Chennai, England also lost that by six wickets after Sachin Tendulkar's unbeaten century steered India home on the final day and Pietersen is desperate to avoid returning home from the first half of the winter schedule without winning a major match. "We haven't won anything for the first part of this winter so it is pretty simple - the lads want to win a Test match, the lads want to win a game for the first time this winter," he said.

"The lads are up for it and are raring to go. I thought the day after the Test would be a quiet day but the boys are fine, they are really focused now on doing what they can and not focusing on what's happened in the past." India were expected to resist the temptation of dropping struggling batsman Rahul Dravid down the order as they attempt to seal a series victory. India's former captain has scored only two half-centuries in his last 19 Test innings and although he was retained in the top bracket of India's central contracts for the next year, his future at the top level remains in doubt.

Several former India Test players have called for Dravid to be dropped and having scored just seven runs in two innings in the previous Test, there have been others who have called for him to be dropped down to No 5 while VVS Laxman takes over at No 3. But the captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is expected to resist the temptation and remains firmly in support of Dravid. "VVS could bat at No 3 and Dravid could come down to No 5, but there is always a chance that if VVS gets a good ball and goes early then we could be three down and that would put extra pressure on Rahul," he said.

"We are not worried about Rahul's form. No one can question his talent - he just needs to get past the 30-run mark and get a start." India are expected to name an unchanged line-up at a ground where they trounced Australia by 320 runs in the second Test in October. * PA Sport