Ganguly: Spin quality helps England

  • Last Updated: November 3 2012, 8:26 GMT

Sourav Ganguly believes England have a major advantage on many teams touring India, and therefore should prove a match for their hosts.

Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann can help England.

The former India captain acknowledges a trial by spin will test England's mettle, with R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha expected to form a formidable partnership on responsive pitches.

But unlike many who have travelled in hope, and returned disappointed, England have firepower of their own for the four-Test series.

Frontline spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar - the latter is not sure to be selected, depending on the balance of England's team - are talented enough to convince Ganguly Alastair Cook's tourists will be competitive.

"They will face a challenge," he said.

"When teams like India go to England for Test series, they face challenges. This will be the same."

Ganguly is not among those, however, who reason England's failings against Pakistan spinners in their 3-0 defeat in the United Arab Emirates last winter inevitably means they will be doomed here too.

"Pakistan had two quality spinners - (Saeed) Ajmal and the left-arm spinner [Abdur Rehman] - it wasn't easy on those surfaces.

"England will have to bat well. But the advantage for them coming here is that they have two quality spinners (themselves) - which not many touring teams have.

"Not even Australia did when they were doing well - they just had Shane Warne, and we played him very well.

"A lot of people say Indians play spin well, so give them pace.

"Australia made that mistake in 2007 and lost here 2-0."

Swann, Panesar and maybe all-rounder Samit Patel will have much in their favour with the ball.

"There will not just be turn, but bounce," added Ganguly.

"So they're a very good side to tour India, but it will all depend on how well they bat

"It's going to be a long tour, three warm-up matches and four Tests to follow, so a lot will depend on how much they want to be here."

India's fortunes, meanwhile, will depend to a significant extent on the form of Sachin Tendulkar.

At 39, the master batsman is approaching the end of his great career - and has struggled to reach his highest standards in recent times.

But his former team-mate and captain Ganguly warns Tendulkar should never be underestimated, and deserves the dignity of deciding himself when his playing days are up.

"It's up to him, and how he keeps performing," he said.

"It's a decision he's got to take and one we should leave to him - because a player of his stature, with 100 international hundreds, is probably the best.

"We all know he doesn't have a lot of cricket left in him.

"But for all he's achieved, let him take that call.

"We all understand it isn't going to be for very long. Let's enjoy him as long as he plays.

"I think all cricketers know, when you get to that stage [that it's time to retire]."

Tendulkar made a century on Friday in a rare Ranji Trophy appearance for Mumbai.

He is a certain selection in any case, of course, in the squad to be picked on Monday to face England in Ahmedabad - but his 137 was nonetheless a timely confidence boost.

"You get to that age, and international cricket is very rigorous - travelling and playing," added Ganguly.

"I'm sure he'll know when to go.

"With such great players, you can never rule them out.

"Obviously Sachin Tendulkar 10 years ago, and now, may look different as players ... all of us change.

"We know he didn't have a good time in two Tests against New Zealand. But he came into that series without any cricket, after four months off.

"That is not going to be the case now, so he will be dangerous."

Ganguly also has reassuring words on the subject of England's game-changer Kevin Pietersen.

Back in the fold after his temporary ex-communication by management and selectors, Pietersen is reportedly on good terms again with senior players.

"These are small things that happen in life and other sports teams - it's not just England. "These things happen when you are on the road for long periods away from home," he said.

"But grown-up people put it behind them and move forward.

"England need both Kevin and Swanny [Graeme Swann] to do well if they are to compete and even beat India here."

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