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England may face familiar trial by spin

Press AssociationPress Association 7/11/2016

England could face a familiar trial by spin as they embark on their five-match Test series in India.

While England have picked a squad with subcontinental conditions in mind, with four frontline slow bowling options, they remain outclassed on paper by the hosts' spin attack.

Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Gareth Batty and Zafar Ansari have 46 Test caps between them - 32 of those belonging to Moeen - and, tellingly, have combined for only 120 wickets.

That is 100 fewer than Ravi Ashwin alone, and the 30-year-old is just one of three Indian spinners with extensive Test experience in a squad which also features prospective Test debutant Jayant Yadav.

Moeen, by far England's most established spinner despite having spent his Worcestershire career as a batting all-rounder, has 88 Test wickets at an average of 39.64 - the only one of the touring quartet even to break 50, let alone 40.

Rashid has 15 at 51 in five Tests and 39-year-old Batty - the last of whose eight Tests came in Bangladesh recently after an 11-year absence - 15 at 56.6.

Ansari returned match figures of two for 112 on his debut against the Tigers and even throwing in part-timer Joe Root's 13 wickets at 51.07 does little to improve matters.

Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja both have Test averages hovering about the 24-run mark, with Amit Mishra at 34.36 - but limit the search to matches in Asian conditions and the difference is even more striking.

England's spinners have combined for an aggregate of 49 wickets on the subcontinent, and their combined average there of 45.63 (with Root included) is more than double that of their Indian counterparts.

Led by Ashwin's 179 wickets - including five in an innings on 19 occasions - and Jadeja's average of 17.53, they and Mishra have 301 wickets at 21.56 in Asia.

It adds up to a tough assignment for whichever combination of tweakers England select - and with their batting line-up traditionally vulnerable to the slow stuff in Asian conditions, Trevor Bayliss' side will have their work cut out.

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