India’s think tank will have got a rude jolt after their ploy of asking for a spin friendly pitch backfired on them. England’s spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann wove a web around India’s batsmen and exposed their footwork or rather the lack of it.
India’s best chance is on a pitch that is good for batting for the first couple of days and starts to help spin from the third day onwards. The Motera pitch was like that where though there was turn it was not alarming enough and allowed the batsmen to play their shots as the ball came on nicely onto the bat.
At the Wankhede there was a bit more bounce too which along with spin meant that the not so tall Indian batsmen struggled to get on top of the turn and bounce. On the other hand, the taller English batsmen Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen were able to use their height and reach to neutralize the turn as well as the spin, and thus made big hundreds. They also had their slices of luck playing and missing the ball that turned too much.
The Indian spinners seemed just a touch too anxious seeing the response from the surface and apart from Pragyan Ojha, who came and bowled in a nice relaxed manner, Ashwin and Harbhajan looked in a rush to deliver the ball. Ashwin seemed as if he was running in faster than usual and so the line suffered.
The limited overs mentality is not helping either with the bowlers bowling a restricting line on the legs rather than on or just outside the off-stump and the batsmen too are not taking their foot to the pitch of the ball, but giving themselves a bit of room to be able to swing the bat as they do in limited overs cricket.
That means that they are reaching for the ball with the bat rather than it being a smooth pendulum style movement of foot and bat towards the ball. Gautam Gambhir, who was guilty of this in the first Test, looked as if he had worked hard at it and so was able to get closer to the ball and smother the spin and bounce.
There is a more than a week for the Indians to try and get over the shock of the loss and also work on their technique. It will take a huge change in mindset for them to do so going by what one saw in Mumbai.
If they follow the example of England, who showed so much character in coming back from the defeat in the first Test then they can come back strongly too.
Professional Management Group