Friday, 30 November 2012

England In India – 2nd Test

by Sampad Sengupta

Monty Panesar
After a disappointing outing in the first Test, England bounced back in fine style to register a convincing win over rivals India which now leaves the series wide open.  The Mumbai Test ended with England beating India by 10 wickets after the Indian batting line-up faltered against the English spin twins in both innings of the match.

Both teams made changes to their sides from the first Test, deciding to boost their bowling attack by including more spinners. England dropped Tim Bresnan for Monty Panesar, which proved to be a wise move, something they should have done first time round. He ended up playing a vital role in India’s demise. India too added another spinner, Harbhajan Singh, to their line-up at the expense of a fast bowler. This left them with three specialist spinners and Zaheer Khan as the sole pacer.

Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook
India won the toss and decided to bat first but then fell short of answers as soon as the spinners came on. Panesar proved to be the destroyer as he took 5 wickets including the ones of Sehwag and Tendulkar (both of which were brilliant deliveries). Pujara was the only Indian batsmen who stood tall amongst the ashes and scored a century, his second in 2 tests. England’s innings however, panned out far differently. After a couple of early hiccups, captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen settled in to post a mammoth first innings score. The Indian spin trio were trying their best but had no answer to some fine batting displayed by Pietersen and Cook. The two toyed with the bowlers, both reaching their centuries with boundaries. The flamboyant stroke play of Pietersen helped him get to 186, later earning him Man of the match. The Indian second innings then proved to be worse than the first with them being bundled out for 142, only  Gambhir and Ashwin reaching double figures. It was once again Panesar and Swann who shared the 10 wickets between them. With only 57 runs to win, England breezed to the finish-line with all wickets intact.

The match was a complete reversal of the first Test and now leaves India with many things to ponder upon. The ease with which Pietersen and Cook negotiated their three spinners (taking absolutely no credit away from the two batsmen) should worry India. Were three spinners at all necessary? And in that case, what was the outcome? Another thing to look at is their batting which has now collapsed far too often, with the big names not firing in unison. The England camp would be elated at this result and would definitely be carrying the momentum into the next Test at Eden Gardens at Kolkata which will be an enticing encounter. The form of their top batsmen, success of their spinners and the inconsistency of the Indian team are all playing in their favour. The spinners took 28 out of 30 wickets in this Test and there was one run-out which gives some indication of the show by the pacers. The inclusion of Panesar in the side and Pietersen’s return to form has put a spring in the step of the England players; and can captain Alastair Cook (4 centuries in 4 consecutive matches as captain) now lead his team to victory in the series? The next Test is now definitely something to look forward to.

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