Spin vs. spin – England vs. India

England spinners, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann led their team to a magnificent victory in the second Test and especially the first made a lot of difference.

England is currently involved in a four Test series against India and the hosts have the advantage of preparing the turning wickets which can help their spinners. The first two Tests concluded as a one sided affair as both sides won a match each and the series is leveled at 1-1 at the end of the second Test. The spinners from both sides have done wonders for their teams and have created a lot of problems for the rival batsmen.

–         Wickets taken by England spinners in two Tests – 27

–         Wickets taken by Indian spinners in two Tests    – 22

The first Test was played at Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad, on November 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19, 2012. The Indian skipper, MS Dhoni won the toss, opted to bat and his batsmen responded well and piled up 521 runs in the first innings. The batting was led by the young gun of India, Cheteshwar Pujara, who hammered his career best unbeaten 206 runs followed by 117 from the seasoned opener, Virender Sehwag and 74 runs from the middle order batsman, Yuvraj Singh.

England went into the match with just one spinner, Graeme Swann, who was the top wicket taker with five and the part time spinners, Samit Patel and Kevin Pietersen held one wicket each.

The English batting looked vulnerable against the lethal spin bowling of the hosts and were bowled out for just 191 runs in the first innings. Matt Prior was the highest scorer with 48 followed by 41 from their captain, Alastair Cook. The visitors fell short of 330 runs and were forced for a follow on.

England batsmen were at the mercy of Indian spinners, Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin who destructed their batting at will and the duo claimed 5 and 3 wickets respectively.

Alastair Cook led his team from the front and thrashed 176 runs assisted with a positive knock of 91 from the middle order batsman, Matt Prior as the tourists ended up by scoring 406 runs in the second innings. They got a small lead of just 77 runs and that was not enough to save the match. Ojha once again headed the hosts bowling and took four wickets and Ashwin held one victim.

India achieved the target for the loss of just one wicket and won the match comprehensively by a good margin of nine wickets on the last day of the match. Their spinners held 13 scalps in the match and Pragyan Ojha was declared ‘Player of the match’ for grasping nine wickets in the match.

Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann - Deadly spin duo
Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann – Deadly spin duo

England reviewed its team selection after the defeat in the opening Test and included Monty Panesar as a second spinner in the side for the second Test which was played at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, on November 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2012. Dhoni once again won the toss and did not hesitate to go for the batting first keeping in view the performance of his batsmen in the first encounter.

The hosts were shocked by the spin bowling of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann who got the new lesson from their spin coach, Mushtaq Ahmed, a renowned former leg spinner from Pakistan. The duo turned the table by ripping through the top order batting of India except for the brilliant batsman, Cheteshwar Pujara, who came to rescue of the team by smashing 135 runs. India was in trouble at one stage after losing six wickets for169 when Ravichandran Ashwin associated with Pujara and led the score to 327 while contributing 68 runs. Monty Panesar surprised the Indian batsmen by taking five wickets and Graeme Swann secured four.

Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen powered tons in the first innings of England and amassed 413 runs with a match winning 206 runs partnership for the third wicket. Pietersen blasted 186 and Cook dispatched his successive century of the series by thrashing 122 runs. The pair negotiated the three Indian spinnres, Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh bravely and punished them at will. Ojha once again led the attack by holding five wickets whereas Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh shared two wickets each. England gained a valuable first innings lead of 86 runs and put the rivals under a tremendous pressure.

The Indian batsmen had no answer to the lethal spin bowling of England and the entire team surrendered at 142 runs. Gautam Gambhir was the only batsman who provided some resistance by scoring 65 runs and Ashwin was the second highest scorer with 11 runs. Monty Panesar once again ripped through the strong batting line up of the hosts, grabbed six wickets and had a career best match figures of 11-210 runs. Graeme Swann once again claimed four wickets in the second innings and ended up with 8 in the match. England required just 57 runs to win the match and the target was easily met by scoring 58 runs without losing any wicket and the visitors won the match convincingly by a hefty margin of 10 wickets on the fourth day of the game.

The English spinners snatched 19 wickets while consuming 121.2 overs and their counterpart got 9 wickets in 113.1 overs. MS Dhoni appreciated the great spin bowling of Monty Panesar by saying,

“The way Monty bowled, he was different from other bowlers. All the other bowlers were getting bounce and turn, but Monty bowled at real pace. He bowled at 90-95kph and even above that, and still he got real turn. He had a big impact on the game.”

Both teams will face each other in two more Tests and Dhoni has predicted the same turning pitches for rest of the series. The Indian batsmen should prepare themselves well to face the deadly spin bowling of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann if they want to make a comeback in the series. The Indian spinners have to bowl excellently against the in- form English batmen otherwise the tourists can take away the series from the hosts.


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