If England brags about their “Bull Dog” spirit, there isn’t a more opportunistic time to evoke that, for they are neck deep in a trial by quality spin on a deteriorating track. Let alone establishing a first-innings lead, but staving off a looming follow-on could be an enormous task.
For all their claims of having mastered spin and busted the ghosts of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman from the mind-space, and the absence of a mystery spinner amongst the Indians, they collapsed to the dark art that have scythed the most in times recent. But all-rounder Samit Patel reckoned they have the quality to retrieve from the muddle.
“We have quality players to come. We know what Cook and KP are capable of and then we have (Ian) Bell and a batting line-up that goes deep. We expected the conditions and have come prepared. But sometimes this happens and that’s cricket,” he reasoned.
He believes the Indian spinners won’t be quite as effective as the ball gets older.
“The new ball had a bit about it, so it turned and bounce. But once it gets softer there wouldn’t be much of a problem for the batsmen. There is rough on the wicket but we can get runs. It will be hard and it would keep slow and low but we have to play sensibly. We know what we can do and tomorrow we will show that,” he said.
In hindsight, the inclusion of Patel seems a flawed strategy, for specialist left-arm Monty Panesar could have been far more potent a proposition on the track.
“Maybe, you don’t know. He is a good spinner but credit should be given to the way they batted too, especially Virender Sehwag, Pujara and Yuvraj. I think they dealt with the conditions better. It’s not a bad Test match wicket though,” he opined.
His own batting will be scrutinised as his bowling posed negligible threat. He believes he is technically adept at negating the conditions.
“We have worked a lot on it in the last few months. I think everybody’s got different methods in dealing with different situations. I think mine is different from Cook as his batting is different from KP’s,” he said.
However, India would have other plans, as they would want to bundle out England as early as possible.
Whether they stave off the follow-on or not, England’s prospects of even drawing the match look remote.