Well well well, the dust has settled and over in India, England have clawed their way back into the series with an emphatic win in the 2nd Test in Mumbai. You’d say as good a victory as India’s was in Ahmedabad (though as the away team – I’d say it was better at least we got to day five ;D).
It was all doom and gloom at the end of the First Test – England basically thrashed by 9 wickets. It started badly, lost toss!!!!!!! And it does not help when the harm is self-inflicted with the nonsensical decision not to play Monty Panesar in the first test and then watching the Indian batsmen pile on 500+ runs (despite Graeme Swann’s efforts). A rapid century from Sehwag was the first dagger in English hearts and then a double century from the man they are calling the new Dravid I give you – Cheteshwar Pujara – he deserves a full name check. A marvellous innings, despite England’s ridiculous choice of bowling attack. Then to rub it in England collapsed to 191 all out – toiling (though some shocking shot selections were made) when faced with, yes you’ve guessed it Indian spinners who took 8 of the 10 wickets!!!!!!! England at least showed some fight in their second innings (especially Cook with a big century and Prior with an obdurate 91) when following on but the damage was done – and India knocked off the required 77 runs for a comprehensive victory. Recriminations followed and admittance from the management team that it was a mistake not to play Monty. His return would spark the catalyst for a very satisfying test in Mumbai.
So Friday 23rd November 2012, the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, India win the toss again!!!!!!! and inevitably decide to bat first, so England already on the back foot, but at least they have picked two spinners, yes Monty is back to bowl in tandem with one of only three positives from the first test (Graeme Swann, Cooky and Matty P). India score 327, that Pujura bloke becoming a bit of a nuisance – only 135 this time though 😀 (Monty 5 for 129 btw and Swanny 4 for 70) England come into bat going along nicely 66 for no wicket then suddenly they are 68-2 – oh dear classic England collapse I hear you say. In comes the Peanut (Kevin Pietersen for those who are new to this blog) to join Captain Cook. What follows is some sublime batting and a double century partnership (206) before Cook is out on 122 (that’s four centuries in his first four tests as a skipper!!!!!!!), then it becomes the KP show, he is eventually out for a fantastic innings of 186 and has led England to 413 all out, an overall lead of 86. Now enter the spinners again, India are no match and are rolled over Panesar 6-83 and Swann 4-43 (19 wickets taken by the spin in the match) – 11 by the returning hero that is Monty. England knocked off the 57 required with ease. Ruthless is the word me tinks.
So one all going into the third test at Kolkata starting tomorrow, its all to play for and who’d have thort India would have been the team with the soul searching to do. England have shown that when they pick the right bowling attack they are a match for the Indian spinners against what is looking like a vulnerable Indian batting line up – bar Mr Pujara, even the great Sachin Tendulkar is struggling. In this cricketing mad nation, seldom have they come from such a high as in winning the first test and then losing the second one so emphatically. The pressure is on them ten fold to perform, something England can use to their advantage. The tourists despite the win still have selection worries. The batting has not been great bar Cook, KP and Prior and with the returning Ian Bell (from paternity leave) out of form as well as Jonathan Trott having a really bad run of low scores, it will be interesting if they shuffle their pack. Questions have also been labelled at Stuart Broad as he has not bowled well and has had injury concerns. Clearly the two spinners and Anderson stay, and with Steven Finn coming through a match with the England performance team to show fitness it will be interesting to see if the 20 / 20 captain is selected.
So decisions for both teams to make but I feel England are in the ascendancy as they have nothing to lose. Touring the subcontinent is tough, and Indian cricket fans still have the last tour of England in mind especially as they were drubbed 4-0 in the Summer of 2011 something they will not forget and when they won the first test so easily they must have been thinking revenge is sweet. I’ll take now England to win the toss, rack up a decent total (400+) and then see what India are made of. It will be fascinating to watch. What do you think could happen, who should be in the England team, how will the rest of the series go – let me know ya thorts.
Ps Just on an aside, last Thursday – 29th November – a cricketing legend announced his retirement. Ricky “Punter” Ponting’s career as a player is now over, unfortunately for him and is aussie team mates, his last test match ended in defeat to a crack South Africa side. He cited poor form and not scoring the required runs to justify his position in the team. At the time he had only scored 20 runs in 3 innings in the series versus the Proteas and by the end of it his total was 32 in 5 innings, an average of 6.4, which he knew was not good enough. A street fighter who will be missed greatly from the game, currently the second highest run scorer in test cricket – 13378 runs at an average of 51.85!!!!!!
Yes a prickly man, yes a man who got his fair share of stick everywhere he went especially as he was an in your face kind of man but that is because he is a winner and once on the field of play that was all that mattered. Off the pitch he was a decent bloke who would congratulate opposition teams if they achieved the victory.
He will be missed and I’m sure he is wished well by all and sundry in whatever he does in the future.