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Saturday, November 24, 2012

India Vs England Mumbai Cricket Test: Pujara, Cook And KP Neutralize Dhoni’s Turn!



Pitch Report by MS Dhoni?
Unabashedly demanding a pitch that turns from the first day Indian captain MS Dhoni to direct question tried to justify his demand by saying just before the start of the second Test in Mumbai that he wanted the importance of the toss out of the equation. He meant that each team should suffer equally from spin irrespective of who won the toss or who would bat last. The skipper conveniently forgot that his team prides in having the best spin attack of the world and the best batsmen of spin. And he also seemed to forget that a pitch that is made to turn from the first day must necessarily crack up by the third or fourth day making the turn deadly and impossible to play and any team winning the toss would bat first anyway. Upholding his supposed benevolence he managed to win the toss again in the Mumbai Test and must have considered England batting in the fourth innings gleefully. Of course, Dhoni’s demands entailed a little amount of bounce too which combined with turn would test all batsmen definitely and help seam bowlers too.


Monty Panesar
Turn the pitch did indeed first thing in the morning of the first day of the second cricket Test between India and England that started in Mumbai yesterday, November 23, 2012. Pondering over the spinning obsession England immediately corrected its vital mistake in the first Test in Ahmedabad and brought into the team spinner Monty Panesar who bolstered the spin attack with Swann. And, Team India seemed to be falling in the trap set by its very own captain Dhoni with Panesar capturing prize scalps right away. Sehwag, playing his hundredth Test match and wanting to make it memorial, and Tendulkar, continuing with his string of failures, had no answer to Panesar’s bowling. Half of the team back in pavilion for a paltry 119 on the board India looked set for a big humiliation at home getting out under 200 or 250 at most.

It took the ‘new Wall’ Cheteshwar Pujara again to rescue his team from his captain’s trap and notched up the third century of his career and the second consecutive of the series. He remained unbeaten on 114 at stumps on the first day giving no clue to England how to get him out ever, he thus batted for over 15 hours unbeaten from the first Test making a double hundred, 41 and 114 not out. Spinner R Ashwin provided a strong rearguard action making an unbeaten 60 taking India to 266/6 at stumps.

Thanks to the brilliant 111 run partnership between Pujara (135) and Ashwin (68) Team India finally got itself practically out of the woods at 327 all out on the second day today considering the still turning pitch and that England had to bat last. The England spinner duo captured 9 wickets with Panesar taking 5 and Swann 4.

After lunch today the pitch stopped looking dangerous and England batsmen progressed well defending the turn stoutly despite the threesome spin attack in action with Harbhajan inducted in place of injured medium pacer Umesh Yadav. Ojha who struck two quick blows removing Compton (29) and Trott (0) reaffirmed the existence of turn. But a fighting English captain Alistair Cook (87 not out) continued to take command picking up his 30th half century. He found solid support in Kevin Pietersen (62 not out) who raced to his 26th half century building an unbroken partnership of 110 runs. Overcoming a volley of leg before appeals and half chances the duo took England to 178/2 at stumps Day-2, still trailing by 149 runs.

At the moment the Mumbai Test is very absorbing and looking for an exciting finish barring deadly pitch behavior tomorrow or on the fourth day.

Maybe in the end Dhoni could be right as rank turners with some bounce could be better than the ones with slow turn and no bounce in terms of producing exciting Test results. But this does not give him any excuse for not trying to make his team dexterous in all types of pitches and conditions and particularly grooming pace bowlers within by providing genuine green tops. He may have his way at home, but teams like Australia and England who always nourish the hope of conquering the ‘final frontier’ are definitely not going to provide first-day turners when India visits them.
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