Decision time for Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen will welcome another major dilemma as England captain later when he finally breaks free of security issues and concentrates on selection problems for the opening Test.
The England captain has been forced to rally his team over the last 10 days as they assessed the security implications of returning to India in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
But with start of the Test series at the MA Chidambaram Stadium fast approaching against an in-form India side, who beat Australia only last month, Pietersen can now turn his thoughts to cricket matters.
“There are a lot of cricket issues to think through,” he admitted. “My head has been given a full working over during the last few days.
“The last six weeks haven’t been ideal but over the last three days there have been sleepless nights trying to figure out things.
“It’s been emotional trying to work out what players are going to do and what team we were going to bring, and now we’ve got a full squad it means we can choose from that. The cricket brain has switched on and decisions have to be made.”
Already without Ryan Sidebottom with a side strain, while Stuart Broad is recovering from the hamstring trouble he sustained during the one-day series, England’s bowling options are limited.
They only have three fit specialist seamers to choose from - James Anderson, Steve Harmison and uncapped Amjad Khan - while they have also to decide whether to field both spinners, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.
Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid may also be in the reckoning, although he is not officially part of the squad, while Owais Shah’s form during the one-day series must also be considered.
Whatever side is selected, Pietersen is determined to start the series strongly after the disappointment of the Stanford Series and the 5-0 defeat against India in the aborted one-day series.
“Once we jumped on the plane and came to India my sole focus has been two Test matches for England to try and win the series and try and make amends for what hasn’t been the best start to the winter,” said Pietersen.
“The main focus now is definitely on the Test series. It hasn’t been a great start to the winter. There’s been so much that’s happened in the last six weeks and it’s now a case of getting on and concentrating on the cricket.
“We need to chuck everything away that’s happened in that six weeks to make sure that now our primary goal and focus is to try and win this Test match series.”
England expect to train at the ground today before deciding on their line-up, hoping the rain which interrupted India’s session yesterday does not further disrupt their final practice opportunity.