Prepare spinning tracks to negate toss: MSD
Ahmedabad, Nov 19: It was the spinners and the batsmen who dominated proceedings in the first India-England Test. But in the end what separated the winning team from the defeated one was the performance of their fast bowlers. While the trio of James Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad failed to make any impact on the game with returns of 1 for 245 in 78 overs, the Indian pair of Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav played their restricted role with perfection with figures of 7 for 166 in 46 overs.
Skipper MS Dhoni was quick to acknowledge the contribution of his pacers in conditions that didn’t offer too much of help to them.
“The fast bowlers bowled really well. Zaheer Khan put in a lot of effort and we saw Umesh bowling really quick. Our pacers’ contribution was very important because they gave us the breakthrough when it was really needed,” Dhoni said.
While Yadav bowled fast, full and stump-to-stump, Zaheer resembled a well-oiled machine with a shrewd human brain. England pacers, on the other hand, tried too much and failed to get the basics right. MS Dhoni attributed this difference to the England bowlers’ inexperience of bowling on tracks as slow as the one they encountered at the Motera Stadium.
“They have a very strong bowling attack,” Dhoni said. “They probably got disheartened by the lack of bounce on the wicket. When you’re used to seeing the ball carrying to the wicketkeeper and slip with ease, you get a bit disoriented playing on a wicket where the ball goes to the slip fielders on two bounces.”
Against the common belief that England erred in playing three pacers on this wicket and only one specialist spinner in Graeme Swann, Dhoni backed the visitors’ decision. “Pace is their strength and I thought they made the right decision in backing it.”
Dhoni has, for a while now, been advocating for spin-friendly wickets and he wasn’t particularly happy with the one dished out in this Test. “I don’t even want to see this wicket again,” was his first reaction.
“It was not so easy in the second innings, I can tell you that. We were out in the field for two and a half days and the bowlers had to bowl very patiently. As the game progressed, the wicket got slower. Only the odd ball turned and the wicket didn’t have enough bounce to carry the ball to the slip fielders,” the Indian skipper said.
Dhoni also suggested preparing a track that negates the advantage of winning the toss, so that both teams have a crack in similar conditions.
“I hope that in the coming matches we’ll see the wicket start turning right from the beginning so that the toss doesn’t become very vital. We want to see two good sides compete in equal conditions without one team having an advantage if the wicket starts turning on the third or fourth day.”
At one point it looked like India will seal the 1-0 lead in the series with an innings victory. But the 176-run marathon from Cook and a gritty 91 from Prior after following on forced the hosts to bat again, albeit chasing a meagre 77 to win. Dhoni said he had considered the option of batting again after dismissing England for 191 in the first innings but then decided to go for the “easy option”.
“There was a thought of batting for a couple of sessions and scoring 100-150 odd runs. That would have given the bowlers some rest as well as almost two days to get the 10 wickets with a cushion of 450-odd runs. But we went for the easy option of enforcing the follow-on.”
In their second essay, England batsmen came with a strong resolve to correct the mistakes they made in the first innings and made the Indian bowlers work hard for every wicket. Dhoni said that the visitors got used to the track that got better for batting with time.
“It was a bit challenging for the England batsmen in the first innings because the ball was turning a bit. With time the wicket got slower and the English batsmen adapted to the pace of the wicket. That’s one of the reasons why our bowlers had to try very hard to get wickets,” he said.