Tag Archives: ahmedabad

England v India: How Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Monty Panesar and co rated – Top Spin

From the brilliance of Cook to Broad's Tour nightmare… how England's heroes rated in India

|

UPDATED:

14:11 GMT, 18 December 2012

What better way to celebrate England's first series win in India since 1984-85 than by lavishing on Alastair Cook's heroes some marks out of 10 Here's the Top Spin's man-by-man guide to a famous few weeks…

Alastair Cook 9

Thank goodness there was no DRS: had Cook been given out lbw for 41 during his second-innings 176 at Ahmedabad, the knock which allowed the players to go to bed – Cook's own phrase – believing they could play India's spinners would not have materialised. Instead, England's new captain kept ramming home the point, with 122 at Mumbai and 190 at Kolkata.

/12/18/article-2249975-1690D5BF000005DC-242_468x328.jpg” width=”468″ height=”328″ alt=”Welcome back: England heroes Cook and Panesar arrive in London on Tuesday” class=”blkBorder” />

Welcome back: England heroes Cook and Panesar arrive in London on Tuesday

Top Spin

And he is now one of only four England captains – Douglas Jardine, Tony Greig and David Gower are the others – to have won a Test series in India.

Runs: 562, High Score: 190, Average: 80.28

Nick Compton 6

Amid the immediate post-match celebrations at Nagpur, Compton cut a slightly dejected figure, quietly reasoning that he had not contributed in the manner of some of his team-mates.

And yet four successive opening stands with Cook of 50-plus were a vital part of the team's ecosystem, and the partnership of 166 at Kolkata laid the base for series-clinching lead.

There was merit as well in the way Compton overcame a poor start to the warm-up matches, when the dual pressures of having a famous grandfather – feted in these parts – and keeping out Joe Root might have taken their toll. Only in his failure to pass 57 after making several starts counted against him.

Runs: 208, High Score: 57, Average: 34.66

Steady: Compton didn't contribute in the manner of some of his team-mates

Steady: Compton didn't contribute in the manner of some of his team-mates

Jonathan Trott 7

It was all OK in the end, because Trott was able to revel in his natural game both in Kolkata and Nagpur, and he was no longer playing down the wrong line to the spinners. But two ducks in his first three innings suggested he might embody England's 2012 struggles against Asian spin.

The things changed. His hands became softer, and the work of the opening batsmen and the bowlers – who didn't allow India past 327 after Ahmedabad – meant he didn't walk out under quite the same pressure again.

And while Trott was drawing what little sting remained from India's bowlers in the last day and a half at Nagpur, it's quite possible England felt they could not have chosen a better man for the job.

Runs: 294, High Score: 143, Average: 42.00

On form: KP was one of England's star performers in India

On form: KP was one of England's star performers in India

Kevin Pietersen 8

Pietersen's ascent from the ridiculous of Ahmedabad to the sublime of Mumbai was one of many beguiling tales offered by this tour.

In a series characterised by careful batting, that 186 at the Wankhede was challenged only by Virender Sehwag's curtain-raising ton.

Of course, we may be back into the realms of Steve Archibald and his now-hackneyed take on team spirit, but Pietersen's reintegration seemed genuine enough – not least when Jimmy Anderson ran all the way to point to leap into his arms after bowling Sehwag for a first-over duck in the fourth Test.

Just as revealing were two selfless fifties: in Kolkata, he immediately changed the mood of a turgid third day by hitting the first three balls after tea to the fence; in Nagpur, he ground out 73 when every fibre of his being must have urged him to be reckless.

Can people say England managed him badly now

Runs: 338, High Score: 186, Average: 48.28

Ian Bell 6

If he redeemed himself – and his mediocre career record in India – with a series-confirming hundred on the last day of the series, then it was not entirely clear whether Bell quite appreciated the trouble he could have been in.

His first-baller at Ahmedabad could have haunted him to the end of his career had Jonny Bairstow made runs in Mumbai, when Bell was back home with his new baby. But Bell returned immediately for Eden Gardens, where he made sure 8 for 3 on the final morning did not become a calamity, and then brushed aside a lame first-innings chip off Piyush Chawla at Nagpur to steer England stylishly to safety.

Runs: 172, High Score: 116*, Average: 43.00

Centurion: Bell saved his Tour with a series-confirming ton

Centurion: Bell saved his Tour with a series-confirming ton

And the good news for him is that England's 15 Tests in 2013 are all against either New Zealand or Australia, with their emphasis on seam bowling.

Samit Patel 6

He didn't do a lot wrong – the recipient of two poor decisions at Ahmedabad, he put together important cameos in the first innings at Mumbai and Kolkata, where Sehwag might easily have dropped the slip catch which cost Patel his wicket.

But the decisive contribution was lacking, and when it became clear that Monty Panesar's left-arm spin needed no back-up, Patel's early-tour status as one of England's most assured players of spin no longer counted for much. It seems harsh, but there is a good chance he will never play a Test match for England again.

Runs: 69, High Score: 33, Average: 17.25

End of the road: Will Samit Patel play for England again

End of the road: Will Samit Patel play for England again

Matt Prior 8

Prior's role in the life-affirming follow-on at Ahmedabad was easy to overlook while Cook was rewriting the record books, but the contrast throughout the series of his punchy counterattacks and the generally insipid offerings of MS Dhoni gave England heart and belief.

And his 57 at Nagpur, after England had slipped to 139 for 5, was a series-rescuer. If there remain some doubts about his glovework up to the stumps, his keeping standing back and his all-round selflessness were a reminder that there is no more valuable No 7 in Test cricket.

Runs: 258, High Score: 91, Average: 51.60
Catches: 6 Stumps: 1

Matt finish: Prior proved invaluable again for England

Matt finish: Prior proved invaluable again for England

Graeme Swann 8

So much for a steady decline. From the first day of the series, when Swann alone took the fight to India's rampaging top order, via Mumbai (where he was a canny foil to Panesar) and Kolkata (where he altered the mood of the fourth day by bowling Sehwag with the first ball after lunch) – from there all the way to Nagpur, where he took his series tally to 20, surpassed by no one, England's off-spinner was one their four most valuable players.

The extent to which he outbowled Ravi Ashwin – more tweak, more oomph, more accuracy – gradually eroded India's credibility. And he finally decided he fancied a bat as well: at Nagpur he made his first Test fifty for three years, and took England to 330, which was a basis for negotiation. One plea, though: please bin the reverse-swipe.

Runs: 98, High Score: 58, Average: 32.66
Wickets: 20, Average: 24.75

Spin kings: Swann and Panesar helped guide England to an impressive series win

Spin kings: Swann and Panesar helped guide England to an impressive series win

James Anderson 8

His improvement as the series went on was a joy to behold, and Dhoni would single Anderson out as the difference between the sides.

At Ahmedabad, his and England's failure
to find reverse-swing compared badly with India's success. At Mumbai,
the ball barely swung conventionally either, but Anderson exploited the
one that did, trapping Gautam Gambhir with the second delivery of the
match. And when he did find reverse, at Kolkata, he was sublime.

Beer we go: Anderson celebrates

Beer we go: Anderson celebrates

But no session exemplified his fitness, skill and stamina better than the third evening at Nagpur. Virat Kohli and Dhoni had batted all day, and India were thinking in terms of a handy lead. But Anderson roared in for the final hour to energise England. Four wickets fell, and India could never push on. It was world-class.

Runs: 17, High Score: 9, Average: 4.25
Wickets: 12, Average: 30.25

Monty Panesar 8

If English groundsmen could produce tracks like the Wankhede at the click of Panesar's weirdly long spinning fingers, he would end up with one of the great all-time Test records.

Instead, the shame is that we may need to enjoy him while conditions last. Because at Mumbai he was magnificent, driving the Indians onto the back foot with his pace, and thus opening up lbw against the right-handers.

When Pragyan Ojha protested that not every spinner could match the mphs achieved by Monty, he did so with a telling air of resignation. But he could defend as well, and Cook rightly called him a 'captain's dream' after he got through 52 uncomplaining overs for 81 in the final Test. He seems to be setting his own fields with conviction too. But when will we see him again

Runs: 5, High Score: 4, Average: 2.50
Wickets: 17, Average: 26.82

Stuart Broad 3

It was a tour to forget for England's vice-captain, who bruised a heel, scuffled with Ian Botham on Twitter, and failed to claim a wicket in 36 expensive overs. He was scolded publicly during a press conference with the normally phlegmatic bowling coach David Saker. He'll be back. But he won't be able to put this tour behind him quickly enough.

Runs: 34, High Score: 25, Average: 11.33
Wickets: 0, Ave: –

Road to recovery: Broad won't remember this Tour with much fondness

Road to recovery: Broad won't remember this Tour with much fondness

Tim Bresnan 4

Once England's talisman, Bresnan played only in the defeat at Ahmedabad and the draw at Nagpur, where he bowled his heart out but lacked Anderson's class. If Steven Finn can stay fit in the years ahead, Bresnan may revert to the place on the bench which some – perhaps rather too readily at times – always regarded as his destiny.

Runs: 39, High Score: 20, Average: 13.00
Wickets: 0

One-test wonders
Steven Finn 8

Who knows whether Finn might have flogged some life out of the Nagpur pitch, but his spell on the fourth afternoon at Eden Gardens fulfilled all the hopes and dreams the management had invested in him before he tweaked a thigh muscle on the opening day of the tour.

Runs: 4, High Score 4*
Wickets: 0

Joe Root 9

His remarkable debut blockathon spelled bad news for India's bowlers and possibly for Compton. And he had the nerve to unveil the reverse-sweep on the last day at Nagpur as well.

Runs: 93, High Score: 73, Average: 93.00

Alistair Cook joins three England greats after winning Test series in India

Cook joins three of our greats after sealing Test series victory in India

|

UPDATED:

00:51 GMT, 18 December 2012

As the England dressing room reverberated to the sound of Slade’s 'Merry Christmas Everybody' on Monday, it was worth recalling just how unfestive they all felt after losing the first Test by nine wickets at Ahmedabad almost a month ago.

Not even solid second-innings batting from Alastair Cook and Matt Prior could varnish the truth: here was a team, with a new captain, a barely reintegrated star batsman and an apparently impotent seam attack, struggling on Asian pitches yet again.

But as India sloped away, scarcely able to comprehend the manner of their defeat and with the local groundsman scratching his head as he explained that the pitch had not broken up as he intended, England were celebrating one of their greatest overseas triumphs.

Top work: Alastair Cook joins an elite list of captains who won Tests in India

Top work: Alastair Cook joins an elite list of captains who won Tests in India

Only three other England captains have won Test series in India: Douglas Jardine in 1933-34, a year after his Body-line victory in Australia; Tony Greig in 1976-77; and David Gower in 1984-85. Now Cook can add himself to the list.

England’s first win in India in nearly 28 years felt as special as the Ashes victory of two winters ago, their first in Australia for 24. But their success here was far more unexpected, not least because of England’s travails on three separate trips to Asia in 2012: a 3-0 defeat by Pakistan in the UAE, a 1-1 draw salvaged at the last in Sri Lanka and a botched defence of the World Twenty20.

While conditions in Australia, where pitches tend to be much bouncier and less prone to turn, were more suited to the English style, the Indians went out of their way to make life uncomfortable for Cook’s men — even going as far as to deny them meaningful practice against spin in their three warm-up games.

After Ahmedabad, the tourists were in danger of becoming a laughing-stock. And history was against them: not since Gower’s victory had any side claimed a series in India after falling behind. England were not just fighting their own track record but every other visiting team’s, too.

History: Douglas Jardine (left) was England's first captain to win a Test there

History: Douglas Jardine (left) was England's first captain to win a Test there

In that respect, this win surpassed the Ashes triumph under Andrew Strauss because England never trailed Australia, but were only pegged back to 1-1 after losing in Perth. And it recalled the second half of Nasser Hussain’s famous subcontinental double in 2000-01, when England followed up a 1-0 victory over Pakistan with a 2-1 defeat of Sri Lanka after a hammering in the first Test at Galle. Those wins, too, came out of the blue.

Greig’s win ranks highly on any list of success on away tours, not least because England won the first three Tests of a five-match series — almost unheard of among touring sides to India.

Going further back, it’s difficult to overlook the claims of the Ray Illingworth-led win in Australia in 1970-71, when England did not earn a single lbw decision in six Tests.

Then there is the 3-1 win Down Under in 1954-55, when Len Hutton contemplated throwing himself into the River Brisbane after inserting Australia in the first Test at the Gabba — and lost by an innings.

A controversial choice would be the 4-1 win under Jardine in 1932-33, based as it was on the captain’s ruthless leg theory as he sought to silence Don Bradman.

Provocative: Jonathan Trott has enraged Indians in recent weeks

Provocative: Jonathan Trott has enraged Indians in recent weeks

Although Jonathan Trott has enraged the Indians a couple of times over the past few weeks, England’s win here has largely been a triumph of diplomacy.

But for sheer shock value, India 2012 will take its place among the very best of England’s overseas wins.

Even Cook admitted last night that the dressing room had questioned itself after the first Test. And when his Indian counterpart MS Dhoni used his victory press conference to demand another turner in Mumbai, England may have feared the worst.

Cook’s win — like Hutton’s, Hussain’s and Gower’s — was fashioned in adversity. And it took place in a country Englishmen have traditionally dreaded. He will find it hard to match.

Picture dispute: We are unable to carry live pictures from the fourth Test in Nagpur due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Jonathan Trott"s sportsmanship has been questioned by Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin

Ashwin's anger: Spinner questions Trott's sportsmanship

|

UPDATED:

03:42 GMT, 17 December 2012

Tempers spilled over in Nagpur yesterday when Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin questioned Jonathan Trott’s sportsmanship as England closed in on an historic series win.

Trott had taken advantage of a delivery from slow left-armer Ravindra Jadeja that slipped out of the bowler’s hand and bounced several times away on an adjacent strip.

Anger: Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin (pictured) was angered by Jonathan Trott hitting a ball that slipped out of Ravindra Jadeja's hand for four

Anger: Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin (pictured) was angered by Jonathan Trott hitting a ball that slipped out of Ravindra Jadeja's hand for four

The batsman took a few steps to his left and whacked the ball for four, as he was in his rights to do.

But after tea India were incensed when they thought they had Trott caught behind on 43 — although the Snickometer revealed no edge — and Ashwin later became involved in a heated exchange with the England No 3 after warning him for backing up too far.

‘It was just about the shot with the rolling ball he got away with,’ said Ashwin. ‘When you talk about gamesmanship, we think you should hold yourself to the standards you expect from the opposition.’

India have not forgotten an incident during the first Test at Ahmedabad, when Trott clearly grassed a slip catch which was then referred to the TV umpire — although he made it clear at the time he was unsure whether the ball had bounced.

And India were furious yesterday when Ishant Sharma went up for a caught behind as Trott played an uncharacteristically loose cut shot.

Umpire Kumar Dharmasena correctly ruled not out, which was the cue for uproar, as Sharma and Virat Kohli gave Trott — who appeared to blow them a kiss — the benefit of their advice, and India captain MS Dhoni had to be spoken to by the officials.

Then 10 overs later, Ashwin pulled up in his delivery stride to warn Trott he had strayed too far from his crease. ‘I said I could run him out if he could hit that ball,’ said Ashwin, a reference to the Jadeja incident.

Gamesmanship: Trott (pictured) is 66 not out as England head towards an historic series win

Gamesmanship: Trott (pictured) is 66 not out as England head towards an historic series win

‘He said you might as well run me out. But I said I wouldn’t. We’ve got him out enough times to get him out again.’

England fast bowler Jimmy Anderson last night defended his team-mate, saying: ‘I’d do the same if I was batting.

‘I think I saw Dhoni laughing about it at one stage, so I don’t think that was the catalyst for what happened later. But when you’re in the middle of a crucial Test, things are going to get heated from time to time.

‘There are two teams wanting to win a game of cricket, and the series is on the line. So things inevitably do boil over.’

We
are unable to carry live pictures from the fourth Test in Nagpur due to a
dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and
international news organisations.

The
BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies
Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Graeme Swann: England can win series in India

Now we must finish the job: Swann says England can win series by being clinical

|

UPDATED:

23:29 GMT, 11 December 2012

England need only think back to the last Ashes to remind themselves of their desire to finish off a wounded opponent and return home for Christmas with a job gloriously done.

It was in Melbourne two years ago that, joyously, they retained the Ashes by taking a 2-1 lead with a truly momentous performance against Australia.

England could have been forgiven for considering their mission to be accomplished but they followed it up with an even greater victory in Sydney to ensure the series, as well as the fabled urn, was emphatically grasped.

They find themselves now in an identical
situation, with two of their greatest away Test victories in memory
being followed here in the middle of India by a final Test in which
their ruthless instincts will be tested to the full.

Final act: England celebrate a memorable victory at the SCG to seal the Ashes series - and Graeme Swann has urged a repeat performance in India

Final act: England celebrate a memorable victory at the SCG to seal the Ashes series – and Graeme Swann has urged a repeat performance in India

Most in England would have taken a 2-2 draw at the start of this series, and particularly after India’s heavy victory in Ahmedabad, but that would represent failure now for an England team who sense redemption after a miserable year.

Even Graeme Swann was more serious than usual yesterday after England had practised at the well-appointed VCA Stadium for the first time. Kolkata has been consigned to history. Now it is time, in tomorrow’s fourth Test, to ram home England’s advantage.

‘It would have been very easy to just switch off in Sydney after we had retained the Ashes but we managed to pull out our best game of the tour,’ said Swann.

‘It’s a lot more satisfying as a team to finish the job off. We came here to win the series like we did then and that’s what we want to do now.’

The message then still applies. ‘From what I remember, Andrew Strauss sat us down and stressed that all our hard work would be wasted if we had lost in Sydney. Yes, we’d have retained the Ashes but we would have felt as if we’d let ourselves down. It worked then and it’s a good attitude to take in now.’

Tighten the screw: Swann has urged England to claim victory in India for the first time in 27 years

Tighten the screw: Swann has urged England to claim victory in India for the first time in 27 years (FILE IMAGE)

Nagpur holds good memories for England. It was in the ‘cleanest and greenest’ city in India, but not at this ground, that Alastair Cook scored a century on Test debut six years ago and Monty Panesar and, less memorably, Ian Blackwell, also made their England bows.

Last year England played at what must rank among the nicest stadiums in this country in the World Cup and survived a few scares and a Ryan ten Doeschate century before they defeated Holland.

There have been only three Tests at the VCA Stadium, 10 miles outside Nagpur, and all have provided positive results, with the pitch yesterday looking far from the dusty, used, dry turner that many expected. Pitch reading can be a hazardous business, especially two days out from a Test, but this one looked pretty good.

The most pleasing aspect of England’s transformation is that they have triumphed both on a raging turner in Mumbai and a flat surface in Kolkata and, as Swann revealed, the great comeback has been as much to do with attitudes as conquering playing surfaces.

‘It would have been very easy to get into a rut after Ahmedabad, of losing games and thinking about going home rather than winning the next one,’ said Swann. ‘A lot of focus and energy went into ensuring that this tour wasn’t going to be like that.

Ton machine: England will look to Alastair Cook once again on what is expected to be a results pitch in Nagpur (FILE IMAGE)

Ton machine: England will look to Alastair Cook to lead from the front once again in Nagpur (FILE IMAGE)

‘It was made very clear after the first Test, whether it came from management or senior players, that Mumbai was a chance to level the series and anybody who didn’t see it that way wasn’t welcome in the dressing room.

‘We probably approached the tour a bit different this time. We have tried to embrace India and believed that we could win this series. I’m not sure that’s always been the case here.

‘I’ve only been on one other Indian tour but there certainly seemed more belief from the outset on this one.’

England are set to be unchanged, but it was interesting to see Andy Flower call Cook over to watch Jonny Bairstow in the nets yesterday. It would be harsh on Samit Patel if he is left out now, but his bowling is largely redundant in a team including both Swann and Panesar and he has a top score in this series of 33.

For India the repercussions rumble on. Zaheer Khan will not feature for the first time when fit for five years and Ashok Dinda looks set to replace him even though they have the option of a third spinner in Piyush Chawla, who has come into the squad for Harbhajan Singh. Ravindra Jadeja, who has just scored the third triple hundred of his career, replaces Yuvraj Singh.

One last hurrah Sachin Tendulkar could call an end to his Test career after 15,643 runs - and counting

One last hurrah Sachin Tendulkar could call an end to his Test career after 15,643 runs – and counting (FILE IMAGE)

But it is at the top where most of India’s attention is focused. This could really be the last Test for one of the greatest players the game has known in Sachin Tendulkar, while MS Dhoni is playing for his Test captaincy.

It is also difficult to see Duncan Fletcher taking up the year’s option on his coaching contract when it is up for renewal in April.

These are testing times for the richest, most powerful country in cricket but England have the chance to further trouble them by winning a series here for the first time in 27 years and, in the process, ensure that India’s ‘revenge’ series turns to dust. Expect Cook and his team to do just that.

MS Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher in the firing line and defeat will prompt some awkward questions

India's big guns are in the firing line… and defeat will prompt some awkward questions

|

UPDATED:

23:29 GMT, 11 December 2012

A little over three weeks after handing Alastair Cook’s team a nine-wicket thrashing in the first Test at Ahmedabad, India’s cricket team can barely move for recriminations.

A series that was billed as their chance for revenge following the 4-0 defeat in England in 2011 has turned into a potential disaster.

Fail to win the fourth Test at Nagpur and India will have suffered their first home defeat in 15 series since losing to Australia in 2004-05 — and only their fifth out of 41 since David Gower’s England side won nearly 28 years ago. It is that bad.

Victory, on the other hand, and India
will be able to save at least some face, although plenty of local
observers feel a drawn series would merely delay the blood-letting they
believe is necessary for India’s Test side to move forward.

Uncertain future: Duncan Fletcher (left) and MS Dhoni have come under fire in the Indian Press

Uncertain future: Duncan Fletcher (left) and MS Dhoni have come under fire in the Indian Press (FILE IMAGE)

A testing time

India's Test record since winning the World Cup:

2011: 2-0 v West Indies (away)

2011: 0-4 v England (away)

2011: 2-0 v West Indies (home)

2011-12: 0-4 v Australia (away)

2012-13: 2-0 v NZ (home)

Central to the debate about their future are three men: Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher — celebrity batsman, captain and coach.
As England took charge of the third Test at Kolkata, the Times of India ran a front page picking its team for Nagpur. Dhoni was not in it, while Fletcher has been widely castigated for failing to halt a run of bad results.

That may be unfair on the former England coach, who took over from South African Gary Kirsten just after India lifted the 2011 World Cup at home and Kirsten was conscious he would soon be losing the services of middle-order legends Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. And it is unclear exactly how much power Fletcher has to change India’s cricket culture, which has traditionally been in thrall to the cult of stardom. ]

The manner in which Tendulkar, who turns
40 in April, has clung on has been all too typical. It was a year
between his 99th and 100th international hundreds, and his 76 at Eden
Gardens was his first half-century in 11 Test innings.

The end of an ear The glittering career of Sachin Tendulkar is reaching its close

The end of an ear The glittering career of Sachin Tendulkar is reaching its close (FILE IMAGE)

Dhoni, meanwhile, has lost his lustre after presiding over 10 defeats and only six wins — five against West Indies and New Zealand — since he lifted the World Cup in April 2011. That includes 4-0 whitewashes in England and Australia. A 3-1 defeat now would do little for his career prospects.

Indian hopes of a pitch-induced victory in Nagpur were not helped by a good-looking track at the VCA. But it was hard to be certain: the local groundsman, Pravin Hinganikar, has been instructed by the Indian board not to speak to the media following the outbursts of the Eden Gardens curator Prabir Mukherjee, who refused to do the BCCI’s bidding.

The board’s paranoia reflects the fragile state of their Test team. If India’s away form has been a bone of contention over the years, they have usually been able to take refuge in their near-invincibility at home.

The defeats in Mumbai and Kolkata have come as quite a shock. Another in Nagpur, and Indian cricket will have to answer some very awkward questions.

James Anderson: Alastair Cook can lead England to series glory in India

Winning here will be as good as the Ashes and our record-breaking captain can lead us all the way to series glory

|

UPDATED:

22:34 GMT, 8 December 2012

Not wishing to jump the gun, but I
feel a series victory here in India would be every bit as much of an
achievement as our last Ashes series win in Australia.

Then we tried to use the fact that
England had not won Down Under for 24 years as a major part of our
motivation. Before this tour started we kept hearing that no England
side had won a series in India since 1984-85. I can’t say it occupied
our every waking moment but, once you hear about it, it gets inside you
and drives you on.

Twenty-seven years without success
here is longer than some of our team have been alive and if we secure
the result we believe we are capable of it would be huge, right up there
with what we managed on the 2010-11 Aussie tour.

A long wait: David Gower last led England to a series win in India in 1985

A long wait: David Gower last led England to a series win in India in 1985

Not that history has been the only
thing pushing us. After our wake-up call in the first Test in Ahmedabad
and talk of losing 4-0, that we couldn’t play spin and that we would
struggle out here, we were fired up to prove people wrong.

We also have that extra spur of
wanting to get back to the world No 1 spot. We didn’t do ourselves
justice when we reached that position in 2011 so we’re trying to find
the form we had when we were chasing it.

More from James Anderson…

James Anderson: Swanny has the skill and control to surpass Sir Ian
24/11/12

James Anderson: India open with spin and we could do the same with Swanny
17/11/12

James Anderson: We all admire Sachin, but I just want him out!
10/11/12

James Anderson: Pietersen's back No problem for this England dressing room
03/11/12

James Anderson: Vaughan wasn't as good an England captain as others made out and I never felt at ease playing under him
08/09/12

James Anderson: We will miss Straussy dancing like your uncle at a wedding, but new captain Cook has respect of the whole team
01/09/12

James Anderson: This can't be the end for captain Strauss
25/08/12

James Anderson: After all that talk of KP, Bairstow showed that our future is in good hands
18/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

People say the turning point in this
series was Alastair Cook’s 176 in the second innings in Ahmedabad. Talk
about leading from the front, that was exactly how to do it: to show us
how to score runs out there.

Even Kevin Pietersen, whose natural
game is completely different, said when he collected the
man-of-the-match award for his brilliant innings in Mumbai that watching
Cooky made him realise that if you take time to get in and are more
watchful up front, it can set you up for a big innings.

That’s what KP took from Cook in that
first Test and it had a real knock-on effect, not just with the batsmen
but with everyone in the team. When you see someone showing that level
of skill and performing that well, it makes you want to showcase your
own skills.

He set a standard everyone wants to
aspire to. I know the captain’s broken a lot of records this week and
he’s going to break many more. His composure and ability to maintain
his rhythm and concentration for so long is uncanny. I heard he’s batted
for 26 hours in the series, perspiration-free, and I have no idea how
he manages it.

Different class: Alastair Cook's record-breaking week has been an inspiration to everyone in the England camp

Different class: Alastair Cook's record-breaking week has been an inspiration to everyone in the England camp (FILE IMAGE)

I presume he has his own methods and
someone mentioned recently that they saw him take a little walk after
some deliveries, maybe to switch on and off between balls. I’ll try to
remember that when I’m approaching my next Test hundred!

As for me, after I got Sachin Tendulkar out in the first innings, for the eighth time in my career, people have drawn attention to my record against him. I can’t deny that I have taken huge satisfaction that I share the record for the number of times I’ve got him out in Test cricket. It does not affect how I intend to bowl from now on, but it will be a nice thing to bore the grandchildren with, even more so if I manage to get him again in Nagpur.

I remember all of the eight dismissals, but the first stands out, in Mumbai in 2006, not just because of who he was but also that we went on to win the Test and draw the series.

Special moment: England cheer James Anderson's first dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar six years ago

Special moment: England cheer James Anderson's first dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar six years ago

Talking of records, my mate Graeme Swann has taken more Test wickets than anyone else in 2012. I don’t want him to get carried away so all I’ll say is he’d better get a few more in Nagpur because Rangana Herath, who he has just overtaken, will be bowling for Sri Lanka in Australia on Boxing Day.

Top Spin at the Test: Compton is all out of glove as Tucker puts premature end to partnership

Top Spin at the Test: Tucker's luck for Nick as Compton is all out of glove

|

UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 6 December 2012

Nick Compton had already reached the non-striker’s end by the time umpire Rod Tucker — after a bizarre shake of the head — gave him out lbw on the sweep to Pragyan Ojha. But replays suggested Compton had gloved the ball and the batsman himself said later: ‘It hit my glove. It’s one of those things. I’m a bit disappointed, but from his position it was a very difficult decision, so that’s the way it goes.’

Openers look a dynamic duo

Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss are comfortably England’s most prolific opening pairing, adding 5,253 Test runs together in 132 innings at an average of 40, with 14 century stands. Cook and Compton have already put on 438 runs together at an average of nearly 110 in only three Tests. On only four occasions did Cook and Strauss put on more than the 165 managed yesterday between the new England captain and his equally new opening partner.

In the runs: Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss are England's most prolific openers

In the runs: Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss are England's most prolific openers

Finn delivers on demand

A glimpse of why England were so keen for Steven Finn to play from the start of the series. With MS Dhoni threatening to extend India’s first innings, Cook turned to Finn, who responded by removing him in his first over. The nature of the ball — dug in short of a length, before climbing to take the shoulder of the bat — was just how England imagined it before Finn picked up the thigh injury that ruled him out of the first two Tests.

Ashwin’s turn to look average

India may be wondering what has happened to Ravichandran Ashwin. Feted as a mystery spinner before the start of the series, he briefly appeared to fit the bill with two early wickets on the second evening at Ahmedabad. But since England’s first innings there, he has looked ordinary, taking only three more wickets by stumps on the second day at an average of 115. His line to the right-handers has been especially poor.

Panesar excels on the subcontinent

England would dearly love to pick Monty Panesar in every Test they play, home and away, but continue to regard him as an Asian specialist because of his non-existent batting and fallible fielding. But the two wickets he took on the second morning lifted his tally for the series to 15 at 20 apiece. Graeme Swann has managed 15 at 23 — but in one more Test. The other England bowlers combined, meanwhile, have picked up eight wickets between them, five going to Jimmy Anderson.

Spearheading the attack: Monty Panesar

Spearheading the attack: Monty Panesar (FILE PHOTO)

Ian Bell to ring changes in third Test against India

I'll be ringing the changes, insists returning Bell ahead of third Test against India

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 2 December 2012

Back to business for England at the iconic Eden Gardens on Sunday, with a pitch row still raging and a new dad vowing to put cricket into its proper perspective.

As England enjoyed a few days off in the aftermath of their historic win in Mumbai, India have found themselves caught up in an unseemly squabble over the surface for the third Test which starts here on Wednesday.

Prabir Mukherjee, the octogenarian Eden Gardens groundsman who called MS Dhoni’s demand for a turning pitch ‘immoral’, was enjoying his time in the spotlight, happily waving and chatting to all and sundry, while England quietly practised with the series level and the pressure off them.

Captain's orders: India's MS Dhoni has demanded a pitch to suit his side

Captain's orders: India's MS Dhoni has demanded a pitch to suit his side

The sprightly Mukherjee has vowed to ignore Dhoni and do things his way, but the bad news for England is that the pitch he wants to prepare is more likely to resemble the low, slow turner of Ahmedabad than the bouncy, jagging Mumbai surface that was such to Monty Panesar’s liking.

‘It will be a true pitch — and it will be up to the players to play well on it,’ said a defiant Mukherjee.

One man who will be happy to play on anything provided is Ian Bell, who flew back to Kolkata two days ahead of the England team’s arrival here after missing the second Test in theory to return home for the birth of his first child.

As it turned out, Joseph William Bell was impatient to appear, and his father, having rushed away from the Test in Ahmedabad, had not left India when he was born.

Back: Ian Bell returns to the England squad for the third Test against India

Back: Ian Bell returns to the England squad for the third Test against India

‘I managed to get as far as Mumbai when the baby arrived,’ said Bell, who looks sure to regain his place at the expense of Jonny Bairstow. ‘I would have been there had he been on time but he couldn’t wait! It worked out well, though, in that they came home early so I could spend more time with them.’

Bell had looked distracted in the early weeks of this tour, and the hope now is that his paternity leave will clear his mind and help him improve the poor record in India that, at the moment, is a stain on his international record. His lamentable shot first ball in Ahmedabad summed up his fortunes here.

‘Maybe, sometimes, I’ve tried a bit too hard,’ said Bell. ‘And that shot in Ahmedabad was a sign of me saying, “Right, I’m coming at you”. But after what has happened in the last week or so, my whole attitude has changed.

Raring to go: Steven Finn will be fit for England's next Test against India

Raring to go: Steven Finn will be fit for England's next Test against India

‘Maybe I’ve put a bit too much on myself in the past and beat myself up, but now I just want to go out and trust my ability. I have no regrets about going home — parenthood is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has given me more of a balance and I can enjoy every day I’m with the England team. That’s what I want to do — go out, not worry about things and enjoy my cricket.’

Steven Finn did not bowl at Eden Gardens on Sunday, but England insisted that was more to do with the fact that he delivered 23 hostile overs for the England Performance Squad last week rather than any worries about his fitness.

Finn, who damaged his thigh in England’s first warm-up game, was due to return to action on Monday with the out-of-sorts Stuart Broad, who bowled for 40 minutes on Sunday, sitting out practice.

The odds remain on Finn playing in place of his vice-captain in a second change to England’s winning team.

James Tredwell called into England squad for India tour

Tredwell called into England squad as cover for spin kings Swann and Panesar

|

UPDATED:

10:49 GMT, 29 November 2012

As if further confirmation was needed of England's error in selecting just one spinner for the first Test in Ahmedabad earlier this month, James Tredwell has now been added to the squad for the ongoing tour of India.

The 30-year-old Kent off spinner will join up with Alastair Cook's side on Saturday ahead of the third Test starting in Kolkata next Wednesday.

Cover: Tredwell has been called into England's squad

Cover: Tredwell has been called into England's squad

Having been comprehensively beaten fielding just one spinner in Ahmedabad, England called Monty Panesar into their side to partner first-choice Graeme Swann for the second Test in Mumbai last week and were duly rewarded with a series-levelling 10-wicket win as the pair picked up 19 of the 20 Indian wickets to fall.

Tredwell is unlikely to play in the remaining two Tests unless either Swann or Panesar are injured, though he provides much needed cover in the slow bowling department as no other specialist spinners are in the touring party.

Spin kings: Swann (left) and Panesar (right) took 19 wickets in Mumbai

Spin kings: Swann (left) and Panesar (right) took 19 wickets in Mumbai

'Tredwell has performed really well for us,' said England team director Andy Flower. 'He can make a real impact as a spin bowler. He is arriving in Kolkata on December 1 as cover.

'We have some spinners with the Performance Programme. But Tredwell is a senior spinner and will stay with us for the Tests.'

Tredwell, who was recently named as Kent's new captain, has played just one Test previously – taking six wickets as England beat Bangladesh in Dhaka in March 2010.

Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann outspin India in their backyard – Lawrence Booth

Panesar and Swann outspin India in their own backyard

|

UPDATED:

05:45 GMT, 26 November 2012

This is an England win to rank with any. Derided after Ahmedabad, they appeared ripe for more humiliation here, with MS Dhoni demanding a track tailor made for his spinners. And if the result was largely the work of four players, England were not in the mood to be picky.

They have thrashed India inside 10 sessions in their own lair. Apparently heading for a rout, this series, gloriously, is now back in the balance.

For Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann there will be memories to last a career. Jimmy Anderson may have struck with the second ball of the match when he swung one into Gautam Gambhir’s pads, but England’s spinners hit back with 19 wickets. More than that, they outbowled the Indian spin trio.

Spin twins: Swann (right) and Panesar (left) mopped up the final few wickets for England

Spin twins: Swann (right) and Panesar (left) mopped up the final few wickets for England

The general wisdom, most authoritatively expressed on Sunday evening by Kevin Pietersen, was that Panesar in particular bowled a couple of mph quicker than the Indians.

But it has also been the case that Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh offered almost no support at all to the steady Pragyan Ojha. Ashwin’s line was wrong for most of the match, while the selection of the ageing Harbhajan looked like what it was in advance: pure hubris.

Sure, Panesar’s pace suited a pitch that, crucially for England, had more bounce in it than the surface at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. But he and Swann were also more accurate, conceding 2.66 an over to the 3.61 leaked by India’s spinners.

Dhoni, watching it all impassively from behind the stumps, never had any control. A rupee for his thoughts.

Much of this, of course, was down to the differing qualities of Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen. Perhaps the most definitive statement of the match came not when Pietersen eased his first ball through extra cover on Saturday afternoon, but before that, when Cook decided to attack Ojha.

The six he hit over long-on struck all kinds of psychological blows, not least because it told India that their banker could no longer be guaranteed to cash in his chips.

Chipping in: Swann was able to support Panesar with his wickets

Chipping in: Swann was able to support Panesar with his wickets

Main man: Panesar bowled very well in both innings

Main man: Panesar bowled very well in both innings

After that, Cook and Pietersen put together a partnership of 206 that was all the more watchable for its contrasts. Pietersen’s genius is of a bums-on-seats style: to be at the Wankhede on Sunday morning was a genuine privilege. But Cook’s talent is no less remarkable. It’s just different.

As if to prove the point, both men completed their 22nd Test hundreds – a seminal statistic in the annals of English batsmanship – within a couple of overs of each other.

There is a long way to go. You sense that all India need to do to recreate English doubt is to produce a slow turner – not a bouncy one, as here in Mumbai – and things could change. Equally, England could do with runs from a few of the unusual suspects.

But it doesn’t do to carp in these circumstances. Four days ago, England were down and out. Suddenly, they’re dreaming of the impossible.