Monty and Swann have learnt to keep it simple


Once again, there is hue and cry after India's loss at the Wankhede. It was a great Test to watch, though lot of fans will be disappointed that India finished on the losing side. What this has done is that the series has come alive.

Too many times in the past teams have come to the sub-continent and have been rolled over, thereby making the series boring. But teams like England and South Africa have learnt over the years how to play in these conditions and have managed to beat India.

Though none of them have gone on to win a series, they have added to the competitiveness. The reason why the hue and cry has got louder is due to the eight losses in England and Australia; India not qualifying for the final of the tri-series in Australia; not winning a limited-overs game in England, and failures in the Asia and T20 World Cup.

At the same time, credit has to be given to England for the way they have bounced back in the series. Under Alistair Cook, England have come with a purpose. They came long before the start of the first Test, and after the first innings at Motera, have looked a different side.

They have played well in the past, levelling the three-Test series 1-1 in 2006 and losing a game in Chennai in 2009 due to the brilliance of Sehwag and Sachin. It is important for touring teams to have spinners win series in India and the moment England arrived with Swann and Panesar, I knew this would be a hard fought series.

England made the mistake of not playing Panesar in the first Test and what a contribution he made in the second. The England spinners were a lot better than their India counterparts as they bowled a lot quicker.

Both Swann and Panesar bowl on a seamer-friendly pitches in England and hence keeping it simple and tight is a lesson they have learnt there.

India also understood the difficulty of handling three spinners as invariably one gets underbowled and that happened to Harbhajan in this Test. Also, it’s important to balance the bowling attack because Umesh Yadav played an important role in the win at Ahmedabad.

The way the fast bowling department is shaping up, it is important that young fast bowlers like Dinda are thrown at the deep end. India need to find pacers to support Zaheer and take on the mantle at some stage. For that, taking risks is important.

There is no doubt that India were outplayed but this is not the time to push the panic button and the selectors have shown maturity to pick the same side for the third Test. I am a firm believer of sending a message to the squad that if you have landed yourself in this situation, you will need to find a way to get out of trouble.

Credit should go to Cook and Pietersen for the way they batted to equal the record of Boycott, Hammond and to score as many Test hundreds as them at such an early age speaks volumes of Cook’s ability. If he stays fit, the sky is the limit.

For KP, it was an important knock. Not only was it a topclass effort and breathtaking one, its importance is beyond the numbers on show.

When you stay out of the team for reasons other than cricket, it is important to stamp your authority as soon you are back, as it eases you into the system.

We are set up for an intriguing series and I warn everyone, don’t count out India.

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