England turn the tide

Mumbai: There was an unmistakable swagger about England's surge to victory at the Wankhede on Monday morning. If Alastair Cook's men buried the notion that English teams can't win on rank turners in the subcontinent, they also sent out a warning ahead of the remaining two Tests.

Coming as it did inside 10 sessions, the 10-wicket victory has put the series in the balance, with the Indians unsure of their choice of surface. For most of this Test, their trio of spinners cut a sorry figure even as Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann played the leading role in the visitors' success.

In rounding off the last three wickets within 43 minutes on Monday, with Swann taking two and Panesar one, the pair finished with 19 wickets between them in 121.2 overs. The Indian spinners, considered the specialists in these conditions, bowled 103.3 overs for just nine wickets.

While Swann finished the Test with eight for 113, a hallmark of his precision, Panesar, who provided the breakthroughs and broke the backbone of Indian batting, ended with 11 for 210.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted that Panesar's pace made a huge difference, but don't forget the bounce also suited his style. Both he and Swann were also more accurate, conceding 2.66 an over to the 3.61 leaked by the home spinners.

This is in no way trying to undermine the efforts of Cook and Kevin Pietersen, especially their 206-run partnership. If Pietersen demolished the spinners' home reputation by taking batting to another level, Cook took the lead in burying the ghost of Ahmedabad when he launched a vicious attack on Pragyan Ojha late on the second afternoon.

"Incredible Victory for England...Has to be ranked as one of the greatest ever... immense Character shown by all the team…" tweeted former England captain Michael Vaughan.

There was also something symbolic with the way England reached the target of 57. Their chase had begun with four byes and the winning runs were also achieved in similar fashion.

The celebrations were muted. Perhaps that can wait once the bigger objective in achieved.

"I think any win in India is a huge win. I've played 18 ODIs here and won just one. I've won more Tests here than ODIs," a composed Pietersen said later.

"But we are not going to get ahead of ourselves for sure. There are small margins in sport. Last week we got hammered in Ahmedabad and this week as Cooky said, we practised hard, and the important thing is the practise got rewarded… Because you don't score runs in the nets, you do that in the middle," the Man of the Match remarked.

The former captain also didn't forget to thank Cook and a supportive dressing room after the texting controversy and twitter rants that had sent him in exile. His reintegration seems to be complete.

"I feel our spinners were exceptional. Chef (Cook) hasn't spoken about himself, but he was brilliant.

"He's scored 22 Test hundreds and he's only 27 and there's no reason why he should not get 35 to 40 Test hundreds and have an incredible Test career.

"It's special to be a part of this team. The dressing room is definitely united. It's fun. We are having a great time on this trip."

If Gautam Gambhir failed to show leadership in marshalling the tail despite his optimism on Sunday, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan also erred in carrying out their responsibilities.

The off-spinner failed to keep his bat away from one that bounced and Zaheer needlessly tried to go over the top.

Gambhir, who was dismissed for 65, failed to become the third Indian batsman to have carried his bat through at the Wankhede when Tony Hill failed to detect an inside edge onto his pads.

A fortnight back, even the most die-hard of English supporters had thought that this was another campaign that would flounder in the heat and dust. Two Tests into the series, England are now dreaming of the impossible.


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