Monty back in Test picture?

Monty Panesar gave the England selectors some intriguing dilemmas ahead of the Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

The spin bowler maintained his excellent form in the warm-up match against a Pakistan Board XI, taking three wickets as England dismissed their opponents for 150 in the second innings. Panesar had already taken five wickets in the first innings.

Graeme Swann has an unassailable position as England’s number one spinner, after an impressive run of form that has made him the most formidable Test spinner in world cricket. Panesar’s form though does offer England the option of fielding two spinners if they feel the conditions suit the strategy.

"For me, it's just if the option is there for them to play two spinners, I'm ready," Panesar said. "I've bowled lots of overs and, if they go down that route, at least I've given myself a good chance."

Panesar picked up his wickets on a well-used surface that was conducive to spin, but Pakistan have shown that some pitches in the Emirates do reward teams that rely on spin bowling.

The approach that took England to the top of Test cricket in 2011 is to bat remorselessly, then unleash the seam bowlers. The selectors would be reluctant to weaken their batting line-up to accommodate a second spinner, so Panesar is unlikely to feature in the first Test. After that, especially if England’s familiar tactics are failing, the popular bowler might be given a chance of another taste of Test action.

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