India, Dec. 11 -- After Eden, the question I had to answer was whether India played poor cricket or were England superior? The way England have played in the last two weeks, I have to say that they've played terrific cricket. No side, other than Australia of 2001, has played so well against India, who have been always a tough side at home. One also has to take into account that these foreign teams have learnt to play here over the years and have enjoyed coming here.
Break from past
We saw in 2000 how Steve Waugh embraced the culture and conditions and started enjoying touring India, and I see a similar approach by this English team - they were in Kolkata well before the Test; there were players who wanted to see the Sunderbans; the entire team turned up at the Future Hope Foundation charity. I have not seen English teams of the past do this.
This has happened because of foreign players spending so much time in the IPL and the feedback going back about the facilities and warmth given to the players. A lot of credit should go to Cook. They arrived in India much earlier to get used to the conditions, something so important for touring teams. Also his handling of KP showed a lot of character and I am not surprised that Cook has shown such character with the bat as well. An honest and transparent captain is so important for the success of a team.
India will be not happy with their effort on a good batting surface. The pitch on Day 4 was very good for batting but the English pacers and spinners were relentless with their pressure. The spell after lunch was terrific and Steve Finn showed enormous control with the old ball.
Sehwag's wicket was a terrific off-spinner's dismissal and the rough created by Zaheer was exploited by Swann. The difference between this English side and teams of the past is that they have two spinners who are wicket-takers. This is a must on sub-continent pitches.
The team for the final Test has been picked and a strong message has been sent by the selectors. At some stage there will be influx of youth and I get a feeling that the selectors are going that way.
Zaheer, Yuvraj and Harbhajan have been shown the door. Zaheer could have carried on for one more Test, considering that Ishant is not in form and Umesh is injured.
So one goes with two new bowlers in a very important match, but what has gone through the selectors' mind is that it can't get worse than this. I am looking forward to this change.
Young Jadeja has been rewarded for terrific domestic performance and what tilted the tide in his favour is his left-hand spin. India will have to prepare a result-oriented pitch in Nagpur and Jadeja will do the job of a third spinner, because he can be handy on a turning pitch.
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The writer is a former India skipper
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.