Disappointing as it was to see India crash to a second successive defeat at home after a long time, I was impressed by the way England played at the Eden Gardens.
Watching England play the kind of cricket they have in the last two Tests takes me back to England last year, when their batsmen piled up big scores and put us under pressure. India had the opportunity to do so in both Mumbai and Kolkata when the coin fell their way, but they failed to cash in.
England’s bowlers played with the ego of the India batsmen and thereby succeeded in putting them under pressure. By nature, India batsmen are aggressive and look to hit boundaries. England’s disciplined line and length and the manner in which they executed their game plan put the brakes on their natural instincts.
India started promisingly through Viru and Gautam but once Viru was run out, none of the other batsmen converted their starts into big scores. Had Gautam and Sachin gone to make tons, things would have been different. Panesar and Swann put them under pressure and what was even more damaging was how Anderson and Finn used reverse swing to devastating effect.
On a slow pitch, i’'s patience that stands a batsman in good stead. Consequently, a few batsmen were dismissed trying to manufacture runs. Viru and Pujara were batting nicely when Viru was run out in the first and Pujara in the second innings. As a batting side, the last thing you want is your opening batsman or your No 3 being run out early.
After India were dismissed for a modest total, England went on to pile up another substantial score. Again, things would have been different had Cook not been dropped. Had Pujara taken that catch at first slip, it would have had a two-fold impact. Zaheer is a totally different bowler when he gets an early wicket, and he can invariably get on a roll. It would have put England under pressure.
Run outs and dropped catches are an integral part of cricket, but they can hurt you badly.
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The writer is a former India player