Spinning wickets await England after the first Test Match thrashing

The Indian team has handed a handsome defeat to Alistair Cook’s team.  This match was important in many ways.  At least for India.

Within this year, when Rahul Dravid has retired and Sachin Tendulkar is on verge of retiring, India were looking for two rockstar batsmen.  In Virat Kohli, we had found one.  In Cheteshwar Pujara, we have found a very credible and wonderful replacement for Rahul Dravid.  He is rock solid, has the patience and the stamina to pile on lots on runs in long innings.

In a match where the rest of the Indian batsmen, generally the masters at handling – and massacring – spin bowling, were found wanting against Graeme Swann.  He seemed to have taken apart most of the top players of spin amongst the Indian top 5.  Including bowling Virat Kohli through his gate!  Pujara seemed to be the only one who wasn’t bothered by Swann’s heroics.

Personally, given the great expectations from R. Ashwin, one expected him to spearhead the Indian spin attack.  Instead it was Praveen Ojha!  He took 9 wickets to land India a 9 wicket win in the end.

The English was obviously disappointed.  They came in knowing that they will have to tackle some good top class spin attack and conditions which favored spin.  But their main batting completely failed them.

Vic Marks, says in Guardian:

He only just remembered to take the positives, as every modern captain must. Briefly he spoke of “a great fightback” and “spirited” batting in the second innings, but he is a modest man. That fightback was almost entirely dependent on his own performance. Cook and Matt Prior were “spirited” all right, and Nick Compton batted encouragingly second time around.
But in eight innings the batsmen from No3 to No6 on the card mustered a grand total of 68 runs in the match.
Moreover, there are many adjectives that might be summoned up to describe Graeme Swann’s decision to play those fancy-dan switch-hits against Ravi Ashwin with eight wickets down and the match still to be saved, but “spirited” is not among them. Swann can bat. In these conditions he can bat very well; he could bat for a long time. But he obviously does not think so.

There are – predictably – voices in England to bring in Monty Panesar, the Sikh spinner, to boost the bowling attack of England.  It remains to be seen if Indian batsmen can handle him better than they handled Swann.

The subtext of Cook’s remarks is that we can anticipate that Monty Panesar, whose stock as a spinner has risen immeasurably over the past five days, will be in the side at Mumbai. No one knows for certain what the conditions will be like at the Wankhede Stadium, but we have a damn good idea. There is more chance of Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen embarking on a family holiday together after the tour than England being greeted by a carpet of green grass on the pitch in Mumbai.

Although the track in Ahmedabad was really bad and became worse by the last day – as the ball lost any bounce – one has to feel good about the bowling by Umesh Yadav.  This lad labored on despite no help from the pitch and ended up with 3 wickets in the second innings.

Meanwhile, MS Dhoni wants to have wickets for this series, that will turn from the first ball itself.  And he is clear and unapologetic about it.  If the teams can prepare wickets which seam from the start, why not have spinning wickets?  Not wickets which break up, but those that help the spinners.  He is right in pointing that out to the ICC referees as well 🙂

“I don’t even want to see this wicket. There wasn’t enough turn and bounce for the spinners. Hopefully in the coming matches we’ll see the wicket turn, right from start, or as soon as possible so that the toss doesn’t become vital.  I don’t think the match referee can question a pitch just because it’s turning. When the wicket seams right from the first delivery nobody asks questions.”

(Image courtesy – Daily Mail – Alistair Cook, the England Batting mainstay plays a Captain’s knock)

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