The umpires may have signalled the end of play and pulled the stumps out of the ground but there was little respite for England as Harbhajan Singh continued to apply the pressure, this time with his words.
The off-spinner, who now leads India’s spin attack, said India were surprised at England’s defensive tactics and claimed that only Andrew Flintoff would be a serious threat when India’s turn to bat will come.
“We bowled really well to restrict England. They were not really looking to dominate. Rather, they were looking at picking singles and twos,” said Harbhajan. “If we had batted, we would have got 300 plus. They went into defensive mode and got only 63 runs in the first session.”
Harbhajan listed out the reasons why things would only get more difficult from England from here on.
“I expect the wicket to spin more from the third day onwards. The weather will be quite hard for them as their bowlers are not used to it. Apart from Flintoff, none of the other bowlers will trouble us as much,” he said.
“We have quality batsmen in our ranks to tackle their spinners. Our batsmen have succeeded against Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan so Monty Panesar and the other spinners are not a major threat to us. They will have to work hard, but Flintoff is the kind of bowler who hits the deck very hard and can be successful on any type of pitch.”
When asked if India were at any point irritated or frustrated by England’s manner of play — England batsmen stamped out all risk and focussed more on crease occupation — Harbhajan allowed himself a chuckle. “Not at all. In fact, we enjoyed it. I don't really understand why they were so defensive, but it helped us.”