We learnt from the UAE drubbing: Finn
Kolkata, Dec 8: Coming to India with not many fancying their chances of defeating the strong hosts, England have turned the tables in style. After drawing level in the series with a massive win in Mumbai, the visitors are on the brink of taking a series lead in Kolkata. At the end of Day 4 they have India reeling at 239 for 9 with a paltry second innings lead of 32.
Right from the beginning of the series, England captain Alastair Cook has been speaking of the effort that has gone into England’s performance. With a historic victory at the Eden Gardens in sight, their fast bowler Steven Finn seconded his skipper, saying the team learnt a lot from the 3-0 drubbing they experienced at the hands of Pakistan in the UAE recently.
“We felt as a team that it’s been coming almost,” Finn said. “We’ve worked really hard since we got beaten 3-0 in Dubai. That was a massive blow for us and since then we have worked on our games to be able to adapt to the conditions in the subcontinent. And now all that work is paying us rich dividends in terms of results,” he said.
The two aspects that prevented England from succeeding in the subcontinent were the batsmen’s susceptibility against spin and the pacers’ lack of skill when handling the old ball. However, in this series, England have outplayed India in both these areas.
“Bowling straight is quite a big thing and so is being able to exploit the reverse swing, which I think we did well today and in the first innings as well,” Finn said while talking about adapting to local conditions. “In batting we’ve been sensible, taking calculative risks and keeping the game very simple. We had a very basic game-plan when we came here and it has worked for us so far.”
The numbers in the second and third Tests show a huge gulf in the performance of the Indian and English bowlers. However, Finn believes it is the batsmen who have made all the difference.
“I’d say that India and England are quite similar bowling sides. We stuck to our plans very well and I thought India bowled well to get those four quick wickets in the morning. There’s not too much to choose from between the two bowling sides. Our batsmen were very good against the Indian bowlers. We were fortunate to pick those quick wickets in the second session with a couple of bits of magic,” Finn said, referring to the six wickets that India lost for 59 runs between Lunch and Tea.
And by the magical moments, he meant Graeme Swann’s ripper of a delivery to get Virender Sehwag out off the first ball of the session and Ian Bell’s run-out of Cheteshwar Pujara. “As a team we all really backed each other, the fielding was excellent all day and the catching was good. I think we worked very well as a team today,” Finn added.
While taking field for the final session of the day, with four more Indian wickets to get, the England players were probably planning on how to spend the extra day off. But India’s batting tail succeeded in taking the game to the fifth day. And the man who anchored the resistance was R Ashwin, batting at No.8.
Ashwin batted with the skill and temperament of a top-order bat, something that the men guarding the top and middle orders couldn’t do. He showed patience, farmed the strike well with the tailenders and remained unbeaten on 83 from 151 balls. Finn gave due credit to the man for his doggedness.
“Ashwin played very well today. That bit of rearguard resistance was excellent batting. He played the reverse swing very well and was very patient with his runs when he needed to. He trusted the man at the other end and he was supported well. It was good Test cricket batting and I thought on the whole it was a great day of Test cricket,” Finn said.
While an England win in Kolkata seems a foregone conclusion, Finn said the team wants to guard against any complacency that may creep in as they go into the fourth game.
“If we win tomorrow we’re only going to be 2-1 up in the series and it’s important that going into the fourth Test we are not complacent, that we keep working to get better.”