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HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times
New Delhi/Ludhiana, December 18, 2012
Here's a slice of irony that the Panesars would chuckle about. Paramjit Singh Panesar, a native of village Gaddowal in Ludhiana, left for England in 1977 in search of greener pastures. Monty, his son, born in England, returned to the country of his origin 35 years later to script his biggest success story yet.

The left-arm spinner was in India in 2006 as well - he made his Test debut then, in Nagpur - but that series wasn't even half as rewarding although Sachin Tendulkar was his first victim. This time, he looked a completely different bowler, with enough firepower and guile to leave the India batsmen bewildered.

The heroic role he essayed in England's stunning win has left people in his father's native land smiling and celebrating his success. "I am thrilled with the performance of my grandson. He's been just fantastic. But I am a little sad with India's performance, I didn't expect them to lose this series," said his grandfather, Hari Singh Panesar, who lives in Ludhiana.

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"England won the series because he bowled so well. We were thrilled with his performance and I even threw a party to celebrate his success," said Monty's cousin, Rajanpreet Singh.

His success is being celebrated with greater vigour in the country he lives in and plays for. "A large part of England's success has been down to Monty's recall and England can't afford to let him drift into the margins again," wrote Michael Vaughan, a former England captain.

Not surprising, considering how he shaped up and changed the course of the series. While he has always had tight control over his line and length, a little more variation to go with that control made him lethal on Indian tracks.

"In my opinion, he played the same Test many times over because he didn't evolve or do anything different. But this time, I could see more variation and dimensions to his bowling," commented spin legend Shane Warne.

The left-armer justified Warne's observation in Kolkata, where the wicket wasn't as spin friendly as the Mumbai track on which he had demolished India. He picked up four wickets in the first innings to restrict India to a small total, proving he could weave his magic even when there wasn't enough help from the track. "Monty's inclusion in the side changed the course of the series. He was a revelation as a bowler. The pace and control with which he bowled was just fantastic," said Rahul Dravid.

Apart from the help he lends to fellow spinner Graeme Swann with those big hands of his, he's also a fabulous man to have in the dressing room. "He generally keeps to himself, but would keep saying or doing something that would keep others smiling the whole day. A great guy to have around you," said Paul Collingwood, a former England batsman. Well done, Monty.