Tag Archives: swann

India v England: Jonathan Trott wondered if breakthrough would come in Nagpur

Trott: Kohli and Dhoni put on a great show, but we stuck to our guns and the pressure told in the end

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UPDATED:

15:05 GMT, 15 December 2012

England began to worry they might take no wickets at all on day three in Nagpur today – before four came along in the last hour to make it 'neck and neck' again in the final Test.

Alastair Cook's tourists drew a blank while Virat Kohli (103) and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (99) relentlessly compiled a fifth-wicket stand of 198.

Once the centurion went lbw to Graeme Swann, though, England seized their chance to redress the balance as day three ended with honours close to even.

Focus: Jonathan Trott praised the bowlers for their perseverance

Focus: Jonathan Trott praised the bowlers for their perseverance

Only the implications of a series score already 2-1 to England means the state of play – India 297 for eight in reply to 330 all out – favours Cook and Co, who need only a draw here to stay in front and wrap up the four-match contest.

They retained that consolation throughout a taxing day. But as Jonathan Trott confirmed, during the 84 overs it took to part Kohli and Dhoni, England did at times wonder if the breakthrough would ever come.

'It's a credit to the guys for sticking
it out for five hours, not getting a wicket, and then coming back into
the game and evening it out'

– Jonathan Trott

Asked whether that thought entered their minds, Trott said: 'Of course. They were playing really well … but then Graeme bowled a great ball to Virat Kohli, and it can change the day like that.'

Trott, among the frontline batsmen England will be hoping can keep India at bay in return, congratulated Kohli and Dhoni on their efforts – and his own team on theirs.

'They played unbelievably well for five hours, and credit to them for that,” he said.

'But we stuck to our guns, kept the pressure on them and eventually we got a breakthrough and were able to push on.

'You've just got to trust yourself and your team-mates that when you get the chance you're able to take it – which happened.

'Five hours without a wicket, then four wickets in an hour – that's what can happen, a fantastic advertisement for the game.'

Top partnership: Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli were in sensational form

Top partnership: Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli were in sensational form

Trott is taking nothing for granted, but senses Cook's direct-hit run-out of Dhoni might yet tilt the series England's way once and for all.

It was reminiscent of the moment Andrew Flintoff ran out Ricky Ponting as the 2009 Ashes were clinched at The Oval – a fact not lost on Trott, on debut then and a mainstay of England success since.

'It changes things massively, obviously,' he said.

'It's a credit to the guys for sticking it out for five hours, not getting a wicket, and then coming back into the game and evening it out.

'It's pretty neck and neck. It's thanks to the bowlers – and then to get a chance like Alastair did, and to be able to take it, is a game-changer and maybe a series-changer.'

Trott also references Ian Bell's direct-hit run-out to kickstart India's collapse at Eden Gardens last week in England's seven-wicket win there.

Of Dhoni's dismissal, trying to scamper his 100th run, he said: 'It was tight, but he is very quick between the wickets.

'So that makes that bit of fielding by Alastair even better, especially having to go to his left and hit the stumps with his momentum going the other way.

'It's a bit like Fred's run-out in 2009, maybe the catalyst for changing the game.

'We got a run-out like that in Kolkata as well, so we hope it can help to maybe win us this game.'

England do not need to do that, of course, to complete a historic series victory – and they could have had no better demonstration of what is required to make the match safe than the one provided by Kohli and Dhoni, who joined forces yesterday on a perilous 71 for four.

'We saw how they batted today, for two sessions, and didn't lose a wicket,' said Trott.

'Their basics were really good, methodic, and their gameplan worked out. It's a case of us being able to go out there and do that as well.'

The key for England's batsmen will be to get in, and then stay patient.

'It can be quite tricky to get started,' he continued. 'It's not as if it's completely flat, and you can come in and be guaranteed runs.

'Nothing is guaranteed. We're going to have to apply ourselves, but the example of the “Dhoni and Kohli Show” is that it is certainly very battable out there.'

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.

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Graeme Swann: England can win series in India

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

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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.

Patrick Collins: England"s miracle workers have everyone believing again

England's sensational miracle workers have everyone believing again

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 8 December 2012


In control: Alastair Cook's team look set to take a 2-1 lead

In control: Alastair Cook's team look set to take a 2-1 lead

The sporting year of 2012 is the gift that just keeps giving. And we watch in grateful wonder as the miracles descend in delicious profusion.

Never was there such a year, never such an outpouring of glory. From the Super Olympic Saturdays in Stratford to the golden days on lake and velodrome.

From the evening in Munich when European football turned Chelsea blue to the Sunday afternoon at Medinah when the Ryder Cup yielded to Europe's irresistible charge, to the epic at the Etihad when the title was won with the last kick of the season.

Just one week ago, there was the
chill afternoon at Twickenham when the All Blacks were thrashed and we
told ourselves that 2012 had eked out its last, improbable bonus. And
then came Kolkata.

To appreciate how far England's
cricketers have travelled, it is necessary to remember where they
started. In late March, Andrew Strauss sat in a bleak back room in Galle
and attempted to rationalise England's fourth consecutive Test match
defeat.

Whitewashed 3–0 by Pakistan in the
United Arab Emirates, then bemused by Sri Lanka's spinner Rangana
Herath, there was a growing conviction that England's hapless inability
to play spin rendered them hopelessly uncompetitive in sub-continental
conditions.

Spin king: Graeme Swann had a good session after lunch

Spin king: Graeme Swann had a good session after lunch

They chipped out a 1–1 draw in the Sri Lanka series, but come the first Test of this India tour and the roof fell in.

To lose by nine wickets in Ahmedabad was one thing, but to lose in such a clueless, calamitous fashion was quite another.

The statistics read like a long and
darkly threatening letter: India had not lost a Test series at home
since Australia beat them in 2004-05; England had not won a series in
India since David Gower's team came from behind in 1984-85; England had
won only 11 Test matches in India since 1933; India had lost only six
home Tests in a decade.

Had you been looking for a word to describe England's prospects, then 'unpromising' was probably the kindest.

It was at Mumbai that the transformation came to pass. Suddenly, almost irrationally, England began to believe in themselves.

Monty Panesar, happily restored, came
through in a clatter of wickets, Kevin Pietersen played one of
history's finest Test innings and Alastair Cook batted like a prince.

Victory was wholly unexpected and Kolkata was vigorously anticipated. It did not disappoint.

Led once again by Cook in his most
majestic form, England raised their game to another level and now the
questions were being asked of India. What shall we do with MS Dhoni

How long can Duncan Fletcher continue to coach a patently unresponsive team

And, most dramatically, who tells
Sachin Tendulkar that the golden years have run their course None of
which will concern England, whose restoration to form and confidence has
been quite sensational.

In any other year we might have been
speaking in almost disbelieving terms. In this gloriously bewildering
year of 2012, it ranks as just another miracle.

We are unable to carry live pictures from the third Test in Kolkata 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.

How have England turned it around so successfully after opening Test defeat in Ahmedabad?

How have England turned it around so successfully after opening Test defeat in Ahmedabad

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UPDATED:

22:37 GMT, 8 December 2012

Outplayed in the opening Test, England will be dreaming of a first series win in India for 27 years if they can finish things off in Kolkata today. Here’s how they have made it happen…

Key omission: Monty Panesar (FILE PHOTO)

Key omission: Monty Panesar (FILE PHOTO)

Picking the right team

The decision to play just one frontline spinner — Graeme Swann — in the first Test in Ahmedabad proved costly. The recall of Monty Panesar might be the single biggest factor in England turning around the series. He took 11 wickets in Mumbai and has five so far in Kolkata.

Preying on ageing stars

A team full of ageing greats such as Sachin Tendulkar (right) unravelled in the second Test. That more focus was lavished on the pitch than England ahead of Mumbai laid bare India’s lack of faith in their own abilities, which the tourists ruthlessly exploited.

Bowling well

Poor team selection in the first Test was compounded by the performance of England’s seamers. Tim Bresnan was axed immediately and Stuart Broad after Mumbai. James Anderson, poor in Ahmedabad, has been superb, while Steven Finn totally eclipsed Broad.

Finally getting big runs

Alastair Cook’s 176 in Ahmedabad, the first of three centuries, kick-started a phenomenal run from the captain and showed his team-mates big runs could be scored. Kevin Pietersen followed in Mumbai as England found the knack of amassing large totals.

Working out the spinners

The figures of Ravi Ashwin in England’s second innings in the first Test told their own story as he leaked 111 runs in 43 overs for the solitary wicket of Swann. He was quickly worked out and has since had more impact with the bat. Pragyan Ojha has been India’s best spinner, but he is no Saeed Ajmal.

England on verge of winning third Test in India

England on verge of victory but Ashwin frustrates tourists as India dig in

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UPDATED:

11:35 GMT, 8 December 2012

England inflicted a telling collapse on India to put themselves on the verge of victory, and an unassailable 2-1 series lead, after day four of the third Test at Eden Gardens.

The tourists took six wickets for 36 runs this afternoon but, with an innings win almost within their grasp in the final session, Ravichandran Ashwin (83 not out) prevented them finishing the job.

Number eight Ashwin even took India into a 32-run credit by stumps on 239 for nine, and forced England to take a second new ball under floodlights, as the contest somehow limped into a final day.

There was no way past Ashwin and Ishant Sharma for more than an hour in a ninth-wicket stand of 38.

Ashwin escaped a stumping chance on 22, and Sharma was dropped by wicketkeeper Matt Prior on nought – both off Monty Panesar.

Then even after Panesar at last got the number 10, toppling over to be bowled, Ashwin stayed to complete his 111-ball 50 with successive fours off Graeme Swann which also ensured England must bat again.

England just did not have the leeway they needed as Ashwin stood firm, in company with last man Pragyan Ojha.

After dominating the first three days thanks to Alastair Cook's batting and James Anderson and Panesar's bowling, the tourists first had to overcome a chastening morning before India's collapse.

England's own last four wickets could muster only 14 on the way to 523 all out and then they were unable to take any of India's before lunch.

But after Graeme Swann kickstarted the hosts' troubles by bowling Virender Sehwag with the first ball of the afternoon, the rest of the frontline batting simply folded.

Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir sowed some doubts in an opening stand of 86 in just 28 overs, during which England had a half-chance to see off each of the openers.

But Sehwag escaped on seven when Swann could not hang on to a low one-handed catch to his left at second slip off Anderson, then Gambhir pushed Panesar off the face of the bat to short-leg, where Ian Bell could not quite react in time.

Ball rolling: Graeme Swann took the first wicket of India's second innings

Ball rolling: Graeme Swann took the first wicket of India's second innings

The most worrying aspect for the tourists was the increasing ease with which Sehwag in particular was playing their spinners.

But they need not have been concerned because Swann produced the perfect off-break to draw the drive, beat the bat and hit the outside of off-stump straight after the break.

Gambhir had accepted the blame in the first innings for Sehwag's run-out, and perhaps will need to do likewise for his part in a faulty single which saw off Cheteshwar Pujara thanks to Bell's direct hit from midwicket.

Transient controversy followed when Gambhir escaped on 36, umpire Rod Tucker apparently initially satisfied he had edged to slip but unsure whether the ball had carried to a diving Jonathan Trott.

It had, but third umpire Vineet Kulkarni also seemed to convey the fact Gambhir had not got bat on ball after all.

The right decision had been reached via a grey area in the established process for series not involving DRS.

But the fact that Gambhir followed some reverse-swing from Finn (three for 37) to edge behind just four runs later relegated the discussion, and it was less relevant still when Sachin Tendulkar was next out, edging a Swann arm ball to slip.

Flying Finn: England's bowlers all chipped in to dismantle India

Flying Finn: England's bowlers all chipped in to dismantle India

Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli's attempt to stop the rot did not last long before the left-hander was bowled by one from Anderson that snaked in from round the wicket and kept low, and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni edged the same bowler low to his opposite number Cook at slip.

Kohli edged behind flailing at some more outswing from Finn after tea, and it seemed certain England were on the home straight – until Ashwin got set.

England had arrived this morning in the hope of maximising the pressure and an hour's profitable batting would have been their first wish.

Instead, their innings was finished in under five overs.

Prior and Swann could add only a single between them to their existing seventh-wicket stand of 56.

Prior drove the first ball of the day for a single, only for Swann to then immediately become Ojha's fourth victim – edging another attempted drive to slip.

Tail end: Monty Panesar took the final wicket of the day

Tail end: Monty Panesar took the final wicket of the day

Then Prior went to cut Zaheer Khan at the other end and edged behind – England's second departure in the space of seven balls.

Finn and Anderson managed a boundary each but the introduction of Ashwin for Ojha (four for 142) brought two wickets in two balls to conclude the innings.

Ashwin had previously conceded 183 runs for his one success but, after Anderson edged to slip and Monty Panesar went lbw first ball, despite an apparent inside-edge, the off-spinner had two more at no further cost.

It seemed the mid-match momentum had perhaps switched, all the more so when Sehwag and Gambhir tried to seize the initiative too.

But it was a short-lived illusion.

PICTURE DISPUTE

We are unable to carry live pictures
from the third Test in Kolkata 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.

England"s patience paid off against India – Steven Finn

Patience paid off for England, admits Finn after India collapse in third Test

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UPDATED:

13:07 GMT, 8 December 2012

Steven Finn believes England earned reward for their patience after a stunning afternoon session catapulted them to the brink of victory in the third Test against India.

India collapsed after lunch on the fourth day, losing six for 36, to at one stage leave them staring at the prospect of an innings defeat.

The hosts had been 86 for none at lunch but they folded after Graeme Swann bowled Virender Sehwag with the first ball after the break.

Main man: Steven Finn helped England move towards victory in the third Test

Main man: Steven Finn helped England move towards victory in the third Test

A determined unbeaten 83 from Ravichandran Ashwin slowed England's progress, however, the tourists will begin the final day tomorrow expectant of leaving Eden Gardens 2-1 ahead in the four-Test series.

India will resume 32 runs ahead, with just Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha left to defy England's bowlers, who were led by Finn's three for 37 today.

'It was hard for us to get that first wicket but we stuck to our guns and we stuck to the plans we have worked towards in the series and that paid off,' he said.

'At lunch we said that we needed to up it a bit. We needed to focus on how we wanted to get the batsmen out.

'We got lucky with the run out and we had a very good ball first up after lunch.

'I thought we worked hard.'

Under pressure: Virender Sehwag

Under pressure: Virender Sehwag

Finn grabbed the key wickets of Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli before noticeable reverse swing trapped Zaheer Khan in front.

Asked about the late swing he found, Finn said: 'That is something I like doing.

'When you come out here it is something that you have to be able to do.
“It's a good weapon for us to have. It has done it more here than at the other grounds because the wicket is more abrasive.'

Despite India's predicament Sehwag retained hope they could yet claim an unlikely draw.

'We lost six wickets in a session which is disappointing,' he said.

'But we are still fighting. Something could happen tomorrow and we could draw the Test match.'

The right-hander did admit, however, that his fellow batsmen had lacked the application required today, but denied they had been left red-faced by Ashwin's innings late in the day.

'It's not embarrassment. He's part of the team and he's a good player,' he said.

'He has a different style that can work. My style is different.

'If you apply yourself on this wicket I don't think it is too difficult to score runs.'

England have fantastic four: Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook, Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar – Nasser Hussain

Triumph is thanks to fantastic four… but it's time to have a word with out-of-sorts Broad

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 26 November 2012

When you consider where England were after being outplayed in the Ahmedabad Test and then losing the toss in Mumbai, this will go down as one of their great victories. The character they showed to play such exceptional cricket was immense.

It would have been easy for England’s heads to drop after the first Test, amid all the talk of a 4-0 defeat, and that they did not is to the absolute credit of Alastair Cook and Andy Flower in particular.

Cricket is such an individual game and this win was down to four individuals who put in absolutely unbelievable performances – Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann, Cook and, of course, Kevin Pietersen. They beat India at their own game.

Well-earned beer: (clockwise from top left) Graeme Swann, Matt Prior, Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen toast victory in the dressing room

Well-earned beer: (clockwise from top left) Graeme Swann, Matt Prior, Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen toast victory in the dressing room

More from Nasser Hussain…

Nasser Hussain: 'Public enemy No 1' Pietersen is a genius and he is worth a bit of hassle
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Nasser Hussain: England captain Cook comes nicely to the boil in Mumbai
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Nasser Hussain: Captain Cook must think on his feet now that the pressure is on
21/11/12

Nasser Hussain: The time has come for you to go out and show us you can play
19/11/12

Nasser Hussain: England can rely on captain Cook on the subcontinent
18/11/12

Nasser Hussain: Old subcontinental demons come back to haunt England
16/11/12

Daily Dossier: Missing Monty is England's achilles in Ahmedabad
15/11/12

Nasser Hussain: Jimmy to set trap for Little Master… but beware new star Kohli and old foe Sehwag
13/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

I always thought India would be better off preparing flat pitches rather than ones that turned from the first ball like this did, and I think the surface will be much flatter for next week’s third Test in Kolkata.

That would then pose a question for England as to whether they should somehow try to squeeze a fifth bowler into the line-up. Panesar was quite brilliant in this second Test. We had all the talk about whether he should have more variations or bowl at differing paces but in this game he did what he does best: bowl quickly and get the ball to spin at pace.

In recent times Monty has only played when it has been blindingly obvious that he should, but perhaps England need to change their mind-set and play him unless it is blindingly obvious that he should not.

Sometimes we don’t see what’s in front of our eyes and in Panesar England have a seriously good bowler who has made a strong case for playing more often.

Some of the deliveries he bowled to
Sachin Tendulkar in particular were remarkable and for that reason I
would not be too critical of the Indian batsmen.

I
don’t think India will panic. Tendulkar is enduring a poor run of form
but any batsman in the world would have been out to the balls he faced
in this Test.

All-time great: Sachin Tendulkar has earned the right to choose when to quit

All-time great: Sachin Tendulkar has earned the right to choose when to quit

It would not be wise to write the great man off just yet and, in any case, he has earned the right to decide when he will leave the stage.

I would bring Ian Bell straight back into the team, probably for Jonny Bairstow, and I would sit Stuart Broad down now to have a chat with him about where he’s at. I wouldn’t judge him on this match on that pitch but there is no question that he has been out of sorts in recent times and England have to be sure he is fully fit as they move forward in this series.

Again, it would be unwise to write off someone like Broad, because he is a great competitor who might find the Kolkata conditions more to his liking.

For now England should enjoy the moment. Wins like this do not come around too often and should be savoured. Then the hard work will begin again.

Picture Dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from the Second Test in Mumbai 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.

India v England first Test: Noone wanted to follow Alastair Cook into battle – Martin Samuel

Too few had the desire to follow Cook into battle

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 19 November 2012

England v India – pictures

We are unable to carry live pictures from the First Test in Ahmedabad 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.

Virat Kohli drove the ball down the ground past Graeme Swann, and it was over. Never in doubt, the sages said. This was to be no Headingley 1981, no Johannesburg 1995, not even a Brisbane 2010. It felt like a small victory just making India bat again. Then India batted again and it didn’t feel like victory at all.

The target was 77 and it was reached in 93 balls. Had India scored at that rate in their first innings they would have declared after five sessions on 787. They zipped through to the cursory total required and straight on to the ceremonies with barely a change in step.

Cheteshwar Pujara was man of the match, an unbeaten 41 in his second innings to accompany his 206 not out in the first. He said he had a lot of confidence going into Friday’s Test in Mumbai. India’s regular opener Gautam Gambhir had not even been required to return to the ground following the death of his grandmother in Delhi. India’s disposition was that of men who had never entertained an alternative outcome.

Viewed dispassionately, their optimism was understandable. Stripped down to basics, the first Test had been reduced to a single-innings game, recognisable to any club cricketer.

Standing alone: Alastair Cook was not backed up by his colleagues' performances

Standing alone: Alastair Cook was not backed up by his colleagues' performances

On this final day, England would bat first and set a target, either by getting bowled out or declaring once they believed their total was insurmountably safe. Unfortunately, in this match, they were starting off five wickets down for 10 runs and whether it was Alastair Cook or fat Charlie from the Sunday fourths, no captain would fancy his chances from that position.

And yet there was a moment, a fleeting moment, when it was possible to dream. On Sunday, day four, there had been visible signs of Indian fatigue. Tea already taken, with an hour to go, it was time for drinks. India’s attack had been at the visitors since Friday but the second innings wasn’t going to plan.

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Cook was rooted to the middle, Matt Prior a willing partner and the bowlers had run out of ideas. As refreshments arrived, India’s players sank to the floor. They seemed remarkably reluctant to get going again even five minutes later. The number of overs required in a day could have been easily exceeded by the close of play, but India didn’t fancy the extra work. Their sloth suited England, too, who were not inclined to face one more ball than necessary. There were 13 overs bowled after drinks, which seems reasonable, except 10 of those came from spinners.

What is easy to forget about the Brisbane Test in 2010 is that England did not win it. They drew. Saved the game, really, because at the halfway stage Australia were boisterously confident.

/11/19/article-2235496-142802FF000005DC-928_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Illogical: Graeme Swann played a shot which did not make much sense ” class=”blkBorder” />

Illogical: Graeme Swann played a shot which did not make much sense

Obviously, it was an uphill battle by then. Cook had gone, Prior too. Yet Swann was in, and so was Tim Bresnan. Combined Test average: 56.62 (Swann 22.93, Bresnan 33.69); combined Test highest score: 176 (Swann 85, Bresnan 91). So hang about. Hang about until lunch, because that will irritate the bowlers. Then hang about some more if you can. And see what happens. At the very least, make India get you out.

Swann did not have the patience for that, so he got himself out instead. Played a shot that had no logical balance of risk-reward. In doing so, he as good as thumbed his nose at Cook’s efforts. That man was at the crease for nine hours and 20 minutes and then his team-mate takes a wild swing

Cook might as well have played for fun. Tried to hit the first ball back over the bowler’s head for six. Had a laugh. He might as well have stayed in bed. One man is batting to save a Test match; his colleagues are batting to please themselves. Is it any wonder India go to Mumbai with their tails up

Out: Matt Prior had already gone by the time Swann came in

Out: Matt Prior had already gone by the time Swann came in

Of course, it shouldn’t be Swann’s job to grind through two sessions. It was only because England’s specialist batsmen, Cook aside, had performed abysmally across two innings that he was under pressure. Swann is no more to blame for a batting collapse than Kevin Pietersen is for not bowling India out on Thursday. The buck stops a lot higher up the order than Swann.

It is more that, with all that had gone before, how could a hugely respected international cricketer not recognise that he had a sense of duty, even if his ability to discharge it was debatable Out reverse-sweeping to a bowler (Ashwin) who could not buy a wicket at that stage and was heading to Mumbai utterly demoralised What was Swann thinking Cook, as captain, had to remain philosophical.

‘Some people are naturally suited to staying there,’ he said. ‘It would be like wondering why can’t I hit a ball 150 yards like Chris Gayle. I can’t fault the lads for their work-rate but some people will have to concentrate harder on their method and technique to stay in. I’d say it’s both a technical issue and a mental one. There’s always a technical issue before the mental issue kicks in.’

In other words, and leaving Swann aside, some senior England batsmen are not sure enough of their game in the subcontinent, so they become mentally weak and make poor choices.

It would be nice to imagine, as some fancifully imagined an England counter-attack, that this is a problem easily rectified. Broken down, however, it seems huge. Too big to be overcome by Mumbai, in all likelihood. Too big to be fixed before it is time to come home really.

James Anderson: India open with spin and we could do the same with Graeme Swann

India open with spin and we could do the same with Swanny

PUBLISHED:

22:51 GMT, 17 November 2012

|

UPDATED:

22:51 GMT, 17 November 2012

India had no qualms about opening the
bowling with spin – and while I'm not saying we should automatically
follow their lead, when you play cricket here you have to be open to all
suggestions.

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So, if the conditions warrant it and
the captain and management feel it to be right, I don't see any reason
why Graeme Swann shouldn't take the new ball.

Some spinners feel the lacquer on a new cherry makes it hard to grip, and I don't think Swanny is a massive fan.

But as our batsmen have been practising
in the nets against spinners using the new ball, so Graeme has been
sending down overs with the new ball against them to make sure he is
ready should the question be asked.

To be fair, he bowled quite early on
in India's first innings, and when we took the new ball he had a go as
early as the fifth over with it, so the ball would not have altered that
much in that short space of time.

I'm sure he'd have a go happily if it was what the team needed.

He has been fantastic in this match, possibly bowling as well as I've ever seen.

Scroll down for more

Swann's way: but could he open the bowling

Swann's way: but could he open the bowling

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Against batsmen for whom playing spin
is second nature, not only did he manage to take five wickets, but four
of them were clean bowled. All that and Sachin Tendulkar's wicket, too.

There wasn't a great deal of turn on day one but he bowled some fantastic deliveries, built pressure all day and never let anyone get on top of him.

He's not much of a stat-cruncher, but to have passed the great Jim Laker's record of 193 Test wickets to become the most successful England off-spinner was a huge achievement.

We were all aware that he needed two first-innings wickets to do it and when he did you could see how much it meant, especially after he'd had to make the round trip home to be with his wife and daughter.

As his tour 'husband', I decided we should celebrate that evening with a romantic room service meal.

Swanny had chicken tikka and I plumped for the traditional Indian speciality of spag bol. As Alastair Cook said, it's all about embracing the local culture.

Compton by name … let's give him time

Nick Compton has impressed us all with how quickly he has learned to bat in conditions as different to his usual Taunton as the surface of the Moon.

We know all about his patience and that he loves to occupy the crease, but he has not opened much in the past, so doing it out here is a big ask.

Although he played in a couple of warm-up games they cannot compare to the intensity of Test cricket, the crowds or the standard of the opposition. It can be a shock when you get out in the middle.

It's been good to see how eager he is to listen to advice and how keen he is to ask for it.

When you see that in a new player, it makes you think he is ready and willing to try to improve, and that almost always means he will.

I think he has dealt with it all brilliantly so far, but we'll probably let him settle into the team a bit more before we put him under pressure by calling him 'Denis'.

I've had good days as nightwatchman

Loads of chat about the role of nightwatchman after my less than successful effort in the first innings.

It wasn't the best start to my career as a specialist No 3 batsman as after I got out, we then lost another wicket.

But people forget how successful we have been in employing a nightwatchman in the past.

The nightwatch: James Anderson in action against South Africa

The nightwatch: James Anderson in action against South Africa

I'm not blowing my own trumpet, but against South Africa at Headingley in 2008 I went in at 50-2 to try to see out the final session with Alastair Cook and when I was out next day we were 109-3 and I had made 34.

On our last tour here, in the Test in Chennai, I went in at 221-5 and made 19 from 82 balls before getting out at 271-7 and we went on to take a first-innings lead.

One failure doesn't make the nightwatchman a flawed tactic.

England paceman Steven Finn ruled out of first Test in India

England set to turn to Bresnan after Finn ruled out of first Test in India

PUBLISHED:

07:08 GMT, 14 November 2012

|

UPDATED:

08:03 GMT, 14 November 2012

Steven Finn has been ruled out of England's first Test against India by a thigh strain.

England captain Alastair Cook confirmed that Finn would miss out in a press conference in Ahmedabad.

'Steven will not be available for tomorrow's Test', said Cook. 'It would be too big a risk.'

Sit this one out: England are unwilling to risk aggravating Steven Finn's injury

Sit this one out: England are unwilling to risk aggravating Steven Finn's injury

England are already contemplating a gamble on Stuart Broad's fitness as he has been troubled by a bruised heel.

Cook did not confirm who would replace Finn at the Sarwar Patel Stadium but seamer Tim Bresnan is the favourite to get the nod.

Fellow seamer Graham Onions and spinner Monty Panesar would be alternatives to Bresnan.

One bowler England will have available to them is Graeme Swann, with the off-spinner back in India following an emergency dash home to tend to his ill baby daughter.

Swann returned home last week after his daughter Charlotte was taken into hospital, but he has now rejoined the team ahead of the four-Test series.

In his column in the Sun, Swann wrote: 'I am now totally focused on the first Test after flying home because our little baby was unwell.

Face fits: Tim Bresnan shows off his own take on Movember

Face fits: Tim Bresnan with his own take on Movember

'Two long-haul
flights in the space of five days is not ideal preparation for the
opening match of a huge series for England – but some things are more
important than cricket.'

Although Swann missed several days of practice, the spinner insisted he feels ready to go.

'I had sleep flying back to India and any jet-lag has gone. I'm fresh
and the ball has been coming out well in practice,' he wrote.

'I am now concentrating on the Test. I love it when I know I'll have a
lot of work to do. The conditions will be hot, the pitches dry and spin
will be a big factor in the four-Test series.

'I genuinely believe we can win but we must play better against spin
than we did in the three Tests against Pakistan earlier this year.

'We need to get back to playing the same brand of smart, aggressive
cricket we did when winning The Ashes a couple of winters ago.'

Much of the focus in the build-up to the Test has surrounded Kevin
Pietersen's return to the team for the first time since he was dropped
for sending 'provocative' text messages to members of the South Africa
team.
Swann has welcomed Pietersen back to the fold and believes he can make a big difference in India.

'I hope we'll play sensible but aggressive cricket,' he said.

Ready for action: Spinner Graeme Swann

Ready for action: Spinner Graeme Swann

'Nobody can be more destructive, of course, than Kevin Pietersen and his return to the dressing room has been very smooth.

'I think that was always going to be the case after those meetings with
him in Oxford before the tour. That effectively killed off anything that
happened during the summer and it's been the normal mickey-taking and
banter with Kevin.

'In any dressing room, there are always leg-pulling comments. Although I
must be honest and say Kevin is not the butt of most of the jokes
because there are one or two players specially reserved for that!

'Now we want the cricket to do the talking. And I'm sure Kevin feels the same way.'

England captain Cook would not be drawn on his plans to replace Finn in the bowling line-up, and resented the accusation that he was picking from the also-rans.

He told Sky Sports News: 'I wouldn't call them back-up bowlers, they're all vying for a place to play in this XI, to be lucky enough to play for England.

'They've all worked hard to get used to these conditions and as selectors we've got a tough decision to make.'

Cook admitted he had not been out to check on the condition of the wicket at Ahmedabad since yesterday morning.

'Wickets change a lot in 24 hours,' he added. 'Yesterday it looked quite a dry wicket and I think it's been relaid so not much first-class cricket has been played on it.'