England bounced back from their humbling defeat in the first test with a 10 wicket win in Mumbai to level the test series at 1-1.
On a wicket which appeared to be tailor-made for India’s spin attack, England proved why they are currently 2nd in the ICC test rankings behind South Africa. Superb performances with the ball from Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann affirmed England’s choice to play two front line spinners in the second test whilst Kevin Pietersen and Alistair Cook dominated with the bat.
The win was only England’s second in fourteen tests in India, hopefully an end to a poor run which stretches back over twenty years.
England made two changes from the side that was heavily beaten in Ahmedabad bringing in spinner Monty Panesar and batsman Jonny Bairstow for Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan. The changes had an immediate effect with Panesar taking 4-91 on the first day and putting pressure on the Indian batsman right from the start. England let India off the hook though as they allowed spin bowler Ashwin to reach a half century.
India recovered on day one of the second test thanks to a 97 run partnership between Pujara (114*) and Ashwin (60*). The home side finished the day on 266-6 despite a fantastic start from England who restricted them to 119-5 in the first two sessions.
England then turned the screw in the second day’s first session with Panesar dismissing Ashwin(68) early on before Swann cleared up the rest of the tail including the vital wicket of Pujara (135) who was finally dismissed for the first time in the series after spending more than 1000 minutes at the crease. India were bowled out for 327 four overs before luch, the total was a solid start for India and looked likely to be difficult to chase on a deteriorating wicket.
England started their inning strongly with Nick Compton and Alistair Cook putting on 66 for the first wicket before Pragyan Ojha, star of the first test, rattled through both Compton and new batsman Jonathan Trott within a couple of overs bringing Kevin Pietersen to the middle. Pietersen struggled against the spin in the first test and was twice dismissed, fairly cheaply, by Ojha but it was the third wicket partnership which was to prove vital for England in the second test.
The combination of Pietersen’s aggressive shot making and Cook’s rock solid opening innings left the trio of Indian spinner scratching their heads as they did not come close to taking a wicket for the rest of day two. England finished the day on 178-2 trailing India by only 149 with Pietersen (62*) and Cook (87*) going strong.
England continued where they left off on Sunday morning with Pietersen’s 186 proving to be a match winning innings along with Cook’s 122 as the tourists managed to post 413 giving themselves a healthy 186 run first innings lead. Panesar’s fine performance with the ball also continued as he and Swann again combined to reduce the home side to 117-7 with only Ashwin and Gambhir managing to make it to double figures. With Gambhir as the only recognisable batsmen left over night England were certainly in control of the game and only three wickets stood between the tourists and their second win in India since the 80’s.
India did not last long into day four as Panesar finished with 6-81 and Swann 4-43 and only Gambhir’s 65 stood out in a poor Indian innings of only 142. Leaving England a modest 57 to chase England took the initiative with Compton leading the charge. The tourists finished the game off without losing a wicket to give England a rewarding 10 wicket win.
Kevin Pietersen will no doubt grab the headline for his 186 but Monty Panesar’s match winning bowling performance highlights jut how important it is to pick two front line spinners in subcontinent conditions.