England cricket team came to India with all the essential commodities required in batting and bowling departments. Swann and Panesar did the job in 2012 and more expected from Rasheed and Moeen this time. But lacks the quality what is expected in sub-continent surfaces….writes Prasobh Padmanabhan
Test teams around the world often say it hard to play and win matches in Indian soil. Even the great Steve Waugh’s Australian team’s 16 match unbeaten record abruptly came to an end in the test series in 2000. Slow nature of the surface, even call it as rank turners sometimes, deteriorated the fortune of many opponents.
But one team have proved the critics wrong in 2012 when the same Alistair Cook captained the English side to turn the tables on India. As reverse to what expected, England sealed the series 2-1, unprecedented result for a foreign team. India made spin holes to wreak havoc on English side, but it backfired the host only. Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar made short work on Indian batting lineup to clean them up, interestingly Anil Kumble and turbanator Harbhajan Singh were bereft of ideas, results in the worst ever performance by the host in home series.
This time England came to India with a good formidable spin attack comprises Adil Rashid, who is riding on a high from his previous performances, and Moeen Ali, who already proved as a valuable asset with the ball, and experienced Gareth Batty, young Zafar Ansari all posed a huge challenge to Young Indian batsmen. On the batting department, Cook, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Ali and promising Hameed , all are capable of playing big innings in any surface.
So it seems that they have the teeth to notch yet another humiliation for India, but turned out to be an eleven unable to bite at the right time.
The series started in Rajkot, where England got the opportunity to bat first, so vital in subcontinent pitches. They started cautiously but positively and posted a mammoth 537 in the first innings, thanks to India’s poor fielding, dropping catches earlier on day one. Root, Moeen and Stokes scored hundred each. India replied well and fell short of just 49 to England’s score. The placid nature of pitch remains for four days and India were offered to win 310 in the final day. But the final day turned out to be an agonising one for host and wickets tumbled in quick successions. Suspense remained till the last moment but the resilient Virat Kohli sailed the ship safely.
England were happy to take advantage on the host but should have pocketed a victory having the spin trio of Rasheed, Moeen and Ansari in the side. First test again brought back the demons of 2012 were Indians can’t able to get enough purchase from the surface.
In Vizag, things happened contrary to Rajkot. Centurions kohli and pujara, and vital half century by Ashwin, ensured enough first innings score for host. But Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant have different ideas and wrapped up the innings in both times quite easily. India inflicted a 246 run loss on England.
From then on, India never looked back. At times they struggled in the first innings in Mohali, but the no.7,8 and 9 hold their nerves and went through the opponents bowling attack. These were quite unseen in Indian cricket. Spinners contributed with both bat and bowl in the test match.
India registered a thumping victory in the Wankhede Stadium, in Mumbai. England scored 400 plus in the first innings in Mumbai where those teams never lost in such situations. And India were trailing at a certain point of time, but there arise the brilliant display of batting by Captain Kohli. He scored his career best score of 235, one of the best in test cricket, ably supported by the centurion Jayant Yadav at No.9. And the result was no different.
Chennai test also nothing different to offer as India hammered the final nail on England, again after England scoring 400 plus in the first innings.
England management have lot to solve before them as they boast of the best spinners in modern days but lacks quality when compared with Ashwin, Jadeja and the new comer Jayant Yadav, as they outsmarted them in many occassions. Not to forget Indian seamers Shami and Umesh Yadav did their job in every innings. Shami was spectacular with both new ball and old ball, and were up above the modern day great James Anderson many times. Anderson was less than impressive with the ball contrary to Shami and Umesh who were up to the captain in breaking partnerships.
As said earlier, English side came to India with all the essential commodities and showed some fighting spirit in some sessions of a match. But they were not able to maintain the advantage and captain Cook felt bereft of ideas when India built partnerships down the order, and let the game away from them. Had Captain Cook could have more aggressive the momentum may shift to the other side.