Ahmedabad: Having been thoroughly outplayed in the first session, it was a change of game plan that helped England rock a dominating India with three wickets in the post-lunch session, revealed Graeme Swann, the only wicket-taker for England on the opening day of the first Test.
"At lunch time, we sat down and came up with a new game plan… I don't think we bowled straight enough in the first session. On a pitch that is low and slow, you have to attack the stumps a bit more. I think we did that as the game went on and that's why we got those wickets and pulled the run-rate back," Swann, who returned figures of four for 85, said.
Among Swann's victims was Virat Kohli, who was beaten by one that spun a long distance to hit the stumps. But the off-spinner believes that there isn't much turn in the wicket, and credited luck instead.
"I was fortunate that the ball was changed after the quarter seam exploded on the soft ball… The replacement was a touch harder. No ball spun for three or four overs and then one just hit a pebble and turned… If you look at the footage going through the day, very few balls have turned," Swann said.
Though all the four batsmen who were dismissed on the first day fell to spin, Swann believes that the Motera track is still a very good batting wicket. "Towards the end of the day, there was a bit of turn, but I don't think that necessarily makes it a bad Test wicket… It's very, very flat for the seamers. You could argue that it's a good Test pitch… I will say that because I've got four wickets," a smiling Swann said.
"The Indian spinners were probably watching with eagle eyes today and looking forward to bowling on this pitch… It's still a very good pitch for batting. It's only the odd ball that's turning…" he added.
He, however, didn't deny that they would have been happier with a few more wickets. "India are in a very strong position… The first session undoubtedly went to them. Arguably, the other two were even. Having lost the toss and bowled first on that pitch, we'd have liked five or six wickets at the end of the day… But we've taken four," Swann said.
On becoming the most successful England off-spinner, surpassing Jim Laker's tally of 193 wickets, Swann said, "It is a proud moment… I always say I'm not a stats man, but when people told me that I was near Jim Laker, I was genuinely excited." the humble spinner said.
Giving credit to Virender Sehwag for his superb knock, he said: "You have to hand it to Sehwag for the way he played at the start... The way he batted, he really took the game away from us in the first couple of hours. We know he can be destructive, he's done that against us before.
Saluting Sachin Tendulkar for completing 23 years in international cricket, Swann said: "Before he even comes out to the middle, you know who it is from the crowd's noise.... Let's face it, he's the greatest player still playing the game."