England show character as they wrap up second Test

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“The way we bowled in the first innings was fantastic,” expressed England skipper Alastair Cook. Indeed an effort that took the game away from India and handed England a massive ten wicket win in the second Test that concluded at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday.

England were set to chase 57 runs to win the second match with India’s last three wickets adding just 25 runs on the fourth day of the proceedings, a tiny chase for Nick Compton and Cook who wrapped it up in just 9.4 overs.

Indian tail-enders fell to English spinners who recorded 19 wickets among each other in this match, a brilliant effort by Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

England played this Test with tremendous amount of self-belief. Having lost the first Test, the visitors led by Cook-a captain, who leads by example, have won the second Test without making a single mistake in destroying India on home soil.

It was India's seventh Test defeat in 23 games, as compared to nine wins, against all comers at this venue, and their third in 7 games against England and second on the trot. The hosts had previously suffered reverses against their English rivals in 1980 and 2006 - the last time the two met at this ground. Overall, it was India's 39th defeat, and twelfth at home, in 105 Tests.

The highlight of the second Test was Kevin Pietersen's remarkable battle against spin. There is seldom so much stress given on spin bowlers in a Test match the way it's been in this series. Pietersen scored an incredible 186 while Alastair Cook kept him companied for most of his innings with another Test hundred.
Rightfully so, Pietersen was adjudged the man-of-the-match.

On day four, Gautam Gambhir who had batted through the rubble on the previous day taking his unbeaten score of 53 to 65 when umpire Tony Hill shook his head and lifted his finger for an lbw appeal by Graeme Swann. Replays suggested the left handed opener got an inside edge on to the pad, and Gambhir was understandably not happy with umpire Tony Hill's decision.

Gambhir, who missed becoming only the fourth Indian opener to carry his bat through after Sunil Gavaskar (1983), Virender Sehwag (2008) and Rahul Dravid (2011), showed the only sign of defiance from the home team in the second innings while his other teammates flopped.

India’s score was 31 when the day’s play began with three wickets left on a vicious pitch that had turned the fortunes for the home team, so much for insisting on having turning track from day one. Presumably Dhoni would hope for a much patriotic pitch in Eden Gardens when they take on England for the third Test.

“We should have had at least 200 runs on board in the second innings,” opined Dhoni while describing the cause for their humiliating loss to Ravi Shastri during the post-match presentation.

India, who were tottering at 117 for 7 last evening against the double spin attack of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, lost their remaining wickets this morning in 11.1 overs and 43 minutes.

Graeme Swann got the initial wicket in his first over itself, after an expensive opening over by Panesar, by dismissing overnight not out batsman Harbhajan Singh. Singh, who struck a lofted four off Panesar, checked his cut shot to a ball that turned and bounced from the off spinner and offered a tame catch to slip fielder Jonathan Trott to depart for 6 after facing 5 balls.

Panesar, who was hit for two fours in his first over, got rid off no. 10 batsman Zaheer Khan (1) when his sweep shot ballooned up off the top edge for wicket keeper Matt Prior to run a few yards and take it near the square leg position and India had slumped to 131 for 9 in the fifth over of the morning.
Gambhir, with only last man Pragyan Ojha for company, farmed the strike to help the team add 11 more runs before he was last out, leg before to Swann while defending as he was rapped on the back pad.

The Delhi left hander, not out on 53 last evening, batted for over three hours, and struck six fours in 142 balls before becoming Swann’s fourth victim of the innings. Panesar, who ended the innings with brilliant figures of 6 for 81, thus equaled the late Hedley Verity’s record (for a spin bowler) haul of 11-153, in 1933-34 at Chennai (then Madras), on Indian soil.

The left arm bowler’s match figures read a superb 11 for 210 while Swann’s read 8 for 113 as the two bowlers, with little support from the seam bowlers, brought about the famed Indian batting line-up's downfall on a track where the ball turned viciously and bounced alarmingly. Panesar’s 11 victims included the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar in both the innings, in what could be the veteran batsman’s farewell Test on his home ground.

For India, Cheteshwar Pujara, who made a splendid 135 in the first innings following his 206 not out in Ahmedabad, was the stand-out batsman while left-arm Ojha was the most successful bowler with his first innings haul of 5 for 143. Gambhir struck form after a long lean patch in the second innings fiasco to delay the inevitable but all other batsmen flopped on a spinning track, which was desired by skipper Mehendra Singh Dhoni after the hard-earned win at Ahmedabad on a low and slow wicket.

Virender Sehwag, in his 100th Test, could get only 30 and 9, after his run-a-ball 117 in the series opener, while Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh floundered on both the occasions.

In bowling, the biggest disappointment was Ravichandran Ashwin who could not stick to a consistent line and struggled to be penetrative despite bowling 42 overs in the first innings for 2 wickets conceding 145 runs. Harbhajan Singh, in his comeback 99th Test, was also a pale shadow of the bowler he once was, indicated by his haul of 406 wickets prior to this game.

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