Did Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni underestimate the English spinners? It does seem so as it was taking risk at one own’s peril while asking for designer turning tracks during this series. Geoffrey Boycott, the former England opener turned cricket commentator, felt India dug their own grave by asking such type of wickets. While walking into the press box, Boycott said Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann have been a formidable spin duo in world cricket. “They have taken five wickets or more in an innings more than 10 times. It is asking for trouble,’’ he said with a good laugh.
In fact, on the eve of the second Test, leg spin legend Shane Warne, who had come for this Test as part of the commentary team, warned that India will be in trouble if they play on turning tracks as Panesar and Swann would be handful to the Indian batsmen. “England missed the trick by not playing Panesar in the first Test. I have had a few sessions with Monty over the past 12 months and he will be a feisty customer in these conditions. He would be a strong back-up for Swann, who according to me is the best spinner in the world at the moment,’’ said Warne.
Warne said Panesar learnt to use the crease and that helped him to have more bounce and turn. “When I was concentrating on playing the Big Bash last year, we spoke on how to use the crease, use of the arm and various wrist positions. You have to weigh up the conditions in India - how to maximise the spin, when to use side spin, and when to use more over-spin and the right speed to get maximum purchase from the wicket,’’ said Warne.
The 30-year-old Panesar made a huge difference to the England attack. He destroyed the Indian batting with his magical left-arm spin. One who learnt his basics from former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi, he made the ball bounce and turn. But what made him a dangerous bowler was his speed. Indian skipper MS Dhoni said Panesar bowled with a good pace, coming at a speed of 90 to 95 km. “Panesar put a lot of pressure on the whole batting line-up. He didn’t give us anything to score,’’ said Dhoni.