Panesar ready for challenge

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Monty Panesar

Monty Panesar © Getty Images

Monty Panesar knows England will be counting on him to handle the heat and the pressure as their frontline spinner in their forthcoming Test series in Sri Lanka.

Panesar and England face a stern test of their ability and durability on the subcontinent as the tourists aim to follow up their one-day series victory.

It will be chastening for the slow left-armer to note he will be up against a mighty opposite number in Muttiah Muralitharan.

While the man expected to overtake Shane Warne imminently as Test cricket’s leading all-time wicket-taker will be operating in his home conditions, Panesar must carry the burden of wheeling away in search of precious wickets in searing heat.

Panesar is happy to take on the pressure of being perhaps England’s best hope with the ball – but he sensibly discounts any direct comparison between himself and Muralitharan.

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“He is a world-class spinner, and I am obviously just still making my way in the game – so it is probably an unwise comparison,” the 25-year-old points out, two winters on from making his Test debut on England’s spring 2006 tour of India.

Should he be looking for encouragement, the success of his predecessor Ashley Giles on England’s last Test trip to Sri Lanka is a heartening benchmark.

His fellow left-arm orthodox could not prevent a 1-0 defeat for England but, in taking 18 wickets to master off-spinner Murali’s 26, Giles proved Sri Lanka can be a land of opportunity for English slow bowlers.

“I hope I can make the most of it. I am hungry and determined and raring to give it a go,” added an optimistic Panesar.

“I hope I can take the chance with both hands.”

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