England have shown great resilience in coming back after the defeat in the first Test. That resilience and determination has come through the example of their captain, Alastair Cook, whose valiant batting in the first Test may not have saved the game, but showed his teammates what application, determination and a positive mindset could do. He was assisted in his endeavours by the most destructive batsman in Test cricket today, Kevin Pietersen. It was their partnership that ensured that England overhauled India’s total and got a healthy lead too.
Pietersen would have been very upset at his cheap dismissal in the first Test. It was not just the lack of runs, but the manner of his dismissals that would have been the incentive to show what he is capable of. On a pitch where there was turn and bounce and where no batsman, even with a hundred under his belt could consider himself well set and safe, Cook played his normal game. It was just the ideal combination at the crease.
One, a solid, imperturbable, classically orthodox batsman and the other, who can write his own batting methods book. That it was a left-handed right-handed combination did not make it easy for the Indian bowlers either. Importantly for England, Pietersen was not satisfied with just a century, but wanted a big score and that was a crucial aspect considering the other wickets fell in a heap after his dismissal.
India’s bowlers did not utilise the conditions well. They seemed to be in too much of a hurry to bowl their overs and the limited-overs mentality meant that they were not willing the toss the ball up and entice the batsman into driving on a pitch where the ball was turning and bouncing.
Maybe they tried too hard. Like it happens on a fast bouncy pitch where fast bowlers get carried away and bowl a short length than they should, the Indian spinners probably excited with the purchase they were getting from the surface, bowled just a little too short.
That Pietersen and Cook were able to cut them shows that their length was not ideal for a surface like this. The Indian skipper also seemed to have under-bowled Harbhajan Singh and that did not help matters. With his experience Harbhajan should have definitely got more overs.
India needed a good start to overhaul the lead and get enough runs on the board. They did not get it and with the centurion in the first two Tests, Pujara also falling cheaply, it was going to be an uphill climb. Indian batsman brought up on flat pitches are not always comfortable on surfaces that do something. Be it seam or spin. And that was clearly evident today when they struggled abjectly against the spin of Panesar and Swann.
No praise can be too high for Monty Panesar dropped from the first Test. He put that disappointment behind and concentrated on the job assigned to him. The manner in which he mixed his deliveries was quite incredible. It is never easy to bowl a straight ball on a pitch which has got turn. Yet it was his arm ball which caused problems to the batsmen. Unless there is some stubborn resistance the match could well be over by lunch time tomorrow.
Professional Management Group