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By Sunil Gavaskar
India may have won the first Test quite comfortably, but if they are honest then they will accept that they should have won by an innings. Yes, pitches can slow down and be a lot easier for batsmen in the second innings, but they also help the spinners more. With India possessing two top class spinners, India should have wrapped up the England batting quite easily and that too after taking the top order out quite cheaply in the second innings.
Once again Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, who had batted well in the first innings too showed that with a bit of patience and some common sense batting the spin could be tackled. Cook in particular employed old fashioned methods of playing with a straight bat and soft hands and not committing himself too much. Prior on the other hand used more strong arm tactics and scored at a good clip that put the bowlers under pressure. Most other England batsmen played with hard hands and jabbed at the ball which then carried to the close in fielders.
The toss was of course vital with India getting to bat when the pitch was at its best. Mind you Swann got turn even on the first day. He unfortunately had little support at the other end. Samit Patel is at best a steady bowler, but not a big spinner of the ball and that meant that Indian batsmen could get relief at the end away from Swann.
The disappointment for India was the bowling of Ashwin because he should have got more wickets than he did on that surface. Before the Test began he had talked about a mystery ball and maybe in trying to live up to that he lost awareness of the fact that he is primarily an off spinner. Harbhajan Singh too had fallen in love with the doosra to such an extent that it became a regular delivery every over rather than a surprise ball. The same is happening with Ashwin with his 'flicker' as he seems to bowl it every over. The batsmen are not anticipating it and waiting and watching out for it. His tactics of bowling over the wicket to the left handed Cook was also hard to understand since that line meant that the leg before decision was impossible with the line that he would be bowling.
If anything, going round the wicket would have helped him to cause more problems with the angle he would have created and making the batsman play at just about every ball and if the ball straightened the lbw also was a good chance. He is a quick learner though and it will be interesting to see if he has learnt from the Ahmedabad Test.
In Australia Michael Clarke is going from strength to strength. He got yet another double century his fourth in this calendar year which is a phenomenal feat not achieved by anybody before including Sir Don Bradman. Not only is he getting the big runs but doing it in style and quickly too which is giving his team the chance to try and win the game. Unfortunately, the Australian pacers are getting injured and so they end up having one bowler short which does not make it easy to win a game. The modern coaching methods of giving the bowlers only 30 deliveries to bowl in the nets could well be the reason that bowers when asked to bowl more in a Test match find tough to do and thus break down.
If only bowlers were required to bowl 30 deliveries in a Test match then it would be ok, but Test match bowling can mean fielding for over 100 overs and bowling at least one fifth of those overs. All this talk of bio mechanics sounds good to listen to and is very impressive when being interviewed, but in practical terms is simply not workable.
Shane Watson was pulled out from the Champions League in South Africa so as to get ready for the tough Test series against South Africa. He got injured immediately and so the ploy to get him match ready just went out of the window. He has missed the second test too not having recovered from the injury and of course the blame will be put on the BCCI for having the Champions League in South Africa and not at the coaching methods that are causing these injuries.
That said the Test matches all over the world are now getting results and that can only be great for the game.