November 26, 2012
England were able to wrap up proceedings early on Day 4 of the second test in Mumbai and hence drew level in the series at 1 – 1 with two matches to play. India’s last three second innings wickets fell for the addition of 32 runs and they finished on 142. Gautam Gambir was last man out for 62, having batted through the innings, in the process probably staving off the ignominy of being dropped. England’s Alastair Cook and Nick Compton knocked off 58 without loss in positive fashion and completed the victory by 10 wickets.
England’s heroes on Day 4 were once again Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann who between them finished with 19 of the 20 Indian wickets to fall in the match. Panesar, with figures of 11 – 215, was outstanding throughout and his performance only served to underline the folly of the decision to leave him out of the first test. Swann, with four wickets in each innings, backed him up with flight, guile, spin and control and grabbed 8 important wickets for himself.
Kevin Pietersen was adjudged man of the match for his destructive, skillful and sparkling innings of 186 off just 233 deliveries on a spitting, turning snake pit of a pitch. He, together with Cook (a fourth century for England in four tests as captain) wrestled back the initiative from India in the first innings and showed application and no little skill during their match winning 206 run partnership.
India’s policy of preparing a wicket to suit their spinners surely bounced back to bite them as their three pronged spin attack was clearly out bowled by England’s spin twins. Cheteshwar Pujara was their only front line batsman to master the conditions, leaving the selectors with some important decisions to make before the next test starting in Kolkata in 10 days time. The clock is ticking for legend Sachin Tendulkar; it would appear that he is being given to opportunity to choose the timing of his retirement.
England can now move forward from a position of strength. There may be no need to change a winning side, but Steven Finn, Stuart Meaker, Tim Bresnan, Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell will be pressing their claims for selection. In the short term, the players will doubtless enjoy a quiet night out (or two) amongst Mumbai’s 20 million cricket mad inhabitants.