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Since 1st March, 1999
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This time, 5 bowlers seem a certainty
- Iím not under pressure... But, yes, I hope to do better in Mohali: Yuvraj Singh
Will both make their debut' (From top) Munaf Patel and Piyush Chawla.

Chandigarh: Perhaps, itís the Planned City effect. Whatever, the Team India thinktank appears to be paying more attention than usual to the composition of the XI, the thrust being to quickly get 20 wickets and take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.

Having missed a trick or two in Nagpur ' with England in disarray, it was an excellent opportunity to put them on the backfoot ' the Indians canít afford to miss even one cue in neighbouring Mohali.

Whoever wins the face-off there, beginning Thursday, canít lose the TVS Cup as just the Mumbai Test will remain after the one in Indiaís most stunning cricket stadium.

There was no announcement, but well-placed sources informed (late Wednesday) that Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell were contemplating capping both quick Munaf Patel and leggie Piyush Chawla.

With everything pointing towards five specialist bowlers, V.V.S. Laxman has to sit out.

The change from Nagpur, therefore, is going to be appreciable: Mohammed Kaif making way for Yuvraj Singh; Munaf taking the indisposed Sreesanthís place; either Rudra Pratap Singh or Chawla for Laxman.

The teenaged Chawla, who was impressive during the Challenger Trophy (in Mohali itself) five months ago, stands a better chance. However, if Rudra Pratap gets the nod, it will be a quick comeback for him.

Even if Chawla makes it, much of the attention is still going to be on one of his heroes ' Anil Kumble ' who needs four scalps to complete 500 Test wickets. Despite being on the threshold of such a huge achievement, Kumble looked the epitome of calmness at a PCA function.

The experience of almost 16 years, after all.

Sreesanth, by the way, has been laid low after enjoying himself at a fast food outlet on Monday. He did bowl a bit on Wednesday, but the effects of dehydration were quite visible. ďIím better, but...Ē is what he said on the way back to the team hotel.

Sachin Tendulkar goes through the drills in Mohali on Wednesday. (AFP)

As expected, the wicket with negligible grass (there ought to be sharp bounce, though) has been offered, but the Team India thinktank isnít sure about its possible behaviour. Otherwise, the bowling line-up would have been finalised. It hasnít rained after Tuesday morning, but the sky could be grey in the hours immediately before Mohaliís seventh Test gets underway.

England got whacked by ten wickets on their only previous appearance at the PCA Stadium ' back in December 2001. That remains Indiaís solitary win there.

Yuvraj didnít play then, in fact his Test debut was almost two years later (against New Zealand), but has grown into a superstar. Even his off-white Honda CR-V receives much attention, with fans content to simply touch it.

Itís amazing.

ďIím not under pressure... But, yes, I hope to do better (in Mohali) than on my first-class debut (zero versus Orissa, in 1996-97) and my maiden Test (20 and five not out, in 2003-04),Ē Yuvraj told The Telegraph, as another acquaintance called for complimentaries.

Itís not confirmed, but it seems England will drop left-arm spinner Ian Blackwell and boost the pace battery by including Durhamís Liam Plunkett. The latter is short on experience (one Test), but rather high on potential.

Ditto for Monty Panesar, who is certain to have considerable personal support from the balle-balle crowd.

Incidentally, the captain who loses the toss may not be too disappointed as his counterpart has to make a tough call.


LIKELY TEAMS (as of late Wednesday)

INDIA: Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla/Rudra Pratap Singh, Munaf Patel.

ENGLAND: Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones, Liam Plunkett, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar.

Umpires: Darrell Hair, Simon Taufel; TV: A.V.Jayaprakash.

Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle.

Match starts: 10 am.



Whimsical visitors

Meanwhile, the PCA has taken strong exception to England not making either the captain, coach or a senior player available to the Media ' as is customary on the eve of a Test or ODI ' either before or after practice in Mohali. Instead, the visitors decided to make Matthew Hoggard available at the team hotel (Taj) in the afternoon.

Most Indian journalists boycotted that session and the PCA has drawn the Boardís attention to Englandís whimsical (and utterly unprofessional) behaviour.

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