Mumbai: Coach Lalchand Rajput on Sunday dismissed reports that a green-top was on offer for his India A team's three-day match against the touring England at the Cricket Club of India here from October 30 and said it would be a typical Mumbai wicket.
"It's a good wicket. At CCI, always the first session helps the bowlers. It's one of those wickets which will have some carry in the first session. It's a typical Mumbai wicket, there will be a little bit of bounce," said Rajput after the team had their first practice session at the Brabourne Stadium in the afternoon.
All team members, except Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan who were yet to arrive in the city, took part in the nets. The English cricketers led by Alastair Cook, barring Kevin Pietersen, are set to reach here in the early hours of Monday. Pietersen, who played for Delhi Daredevils in the Champions T20 League before the team got knocked out in the semi-final is set to arrive a few hours earlier (at ll:00 pm on Sunday) from South Africa.
Pietersen was readmitted into the team last week after a recent patch-up with the other members. He was ousted from the team in August after sending mobile text messages with unflattering comments about the then captain Andrew Strauss and team-mates to two rival players Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers during the second Test of the last home series against South Africa at Headingley, Leeds.
England are to play three warm-up games, the second one at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai from November 3-5 and the third a four-day game at Ahmedabad prior to the start of the four-Test series from November 13 in the Gujarat city.
According to the CCI curator Prakash Dalvi, the track for the tourists' opening game has been under preparation for the last 10 days and 5mm grass has been kept, but even as he was talking, the ground staff was seen scrubbing the pitch.
Rajput, who was the coach of the India A team on its recent tour to New Zealand, also saw the game as a great opportunity for the players some of whom are on the comeback trail into Tests like Yuvraj Singh, Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and Irfan Pathan.
"It's a challenge for players as scoring runs or taking wickets against any touring team is always better. Earlier, you saw players playing for the country after doing well like scoring runs against touring teams. It's a very good opportunity for players who are just about there. It will be a good challenge for all of them," he said ahead of the game.
According to Rajput the intense competition for a few Test spots will bring out the best in the cricketers. "When they are competing for one spot, it brings out the best in all of them. We had a very good series in New Zealand (India A). The conditions were tough; the ball was seaming around. There were a lot of players who did well. This match is one more opportunity for the players on that tour to stake a claim."
"It will be good to see how they perform against an international team. [There is an] opportunity for all players. [Ajinkya] Rahane, [team captain Suresh] Raina and Yuvraj or even for [Ashok] Dinda, who has been bowling so well in domestic cricket, have a chance. It's very good that Irfan, Dinda and Vinay Kumar will all be playing at the same time so that you can make out who bowls the best against the tourists. Same goes for the batsmen because the England bowling is good. Let's see how they bowl on our wickets," he said.
While conceding that the absence of a frontline spinner in the team, which has been the subject of intense speculation whether it was a deliberate ploy or not, will pose some problems for other bowlers to complete the 90-over quota in a day, Rajput said the part-time slow bowlers in the team would have to chip in. "We have got part-time spinners like Yuvraj, Raina and Tiwary to complete the 90-over quota in a day. I know over-rate will be a bit of a problem as they have to bowl 15 overs an hour.
He also saw the absence of regular spinners as another opportunity for the medium pacers in the team to have long spells, including with the old ball. "I don't know what the selectors have in mind. I would look at it from the point of view of the medium pacers. It's a good opportunity for them. Normally, if you have two spinners, medium pacers don't take much part in the game because after the new ball, they are dead because of the turning wickets."
"It's a good opportunity to see how they bowl with the new ball, now they bowl with the old ball and how they bowl after say 50-60 overs and whether they can make use of the reverse swing as well," the former India opener and coach said.
Rajput hinted that Tamil Nadu's Vijay and Mukund, who opened for India in the three-Test series in the West Indies last year, may be doing the job with Rahane coming in at one drop. "I think Rahane likes to bat at number 3. Normally team management and the coach take a call but it's a new selection committee. We will wait and see," said Rajput.