India win by 9 wickets, take 1-0 lead over England
The first act of revenge for the 4-0 humiliation was carried out on Monday as India romped to a nine-wicket victory over England in the first Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium. Sanjjeev K Samyal reports. Scorecard | Numbers game | Ind vs Engindia Updated: Nov 20, 2012 10:43 IST
Mahendra Singh Dhoni hasn't forgotten even a bit of what he endured on the England tour of 2011, so deep were the wounds inflicted.
After losing session after session, and conceding defeat following defeat, he had to sit there being grilled by the media on the debacle.
The India skipper believes the matches were not played in fair conditions with the hosts exploiting every inch of home advantage, especially by preparing tracks that were loaded heavily in their favour. Ever since, he has waited impatiently to return the favour.
The first act of revenge for the 4-0 humiliation was carried out on Monday as India romped to a nine-wicket victory over England in the first Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium. Though, like always, he maintained a calm exterior, Dhoni didn't mince words in sending his message across that there wouldn't be any let up in the intensity.
His team dominated four days out of the four-and-half days of play but the Indian skipper was still not satisfied with the wicket. "I don't want to see this wicket anymore. We should have wickets which turn from the start of Day One."
According to Dhoni, if the International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee is fine with swing from the first ball then why should he have a problem if there is turn from the start, it would take the toss out of consideration.
The statement was not as plain as it seemed. In other words, like his batsmen struggled on green tops in England, he wants the visitors to endure the same insecurity by fully exploiting the England batsmen's discomfort against spin.
After a listless fourth afternoon, the ruthlessness was evident in India's game on the fifth morning. England's hope of saving the game vanished soon after resumption. Pragyan Ojha ended the marathon efforts of Matt Prior and Alastair Cook in quick succession. The left-arm spinner built pressure on the batsmen with a tight spell from the pavilion end and it had the desired effect when Prior played his first false stroke in his 225-ball knock, checking his shot to a short-of-length delivery to spoon a simple catch.
It was Ojha's third over of the morning. And 12 balls later, he had the big fish, Cook, ending the left-hander's defiant nine-hour and 17-minute vigil at the crease. England at that stage were just 35 runs ahead and with just three wickets in hand, the match was over as a contest.
It was the 26-year-old Hyderabad bowler's fourth wicket of the innings and ninth of the match. He was the most impressive of the bowlers. He didn't spin the ball big. His success was based on his guile and exploiting the conditions. The prized scalp of Cook was had by pitching the ball in the rough.
Umesh Yadav dealt the knockout blow with the wicket of all-rounder Stuart Broad. The Nagpur pacer was the standout fast bowler from either side, working up good pace and generating reverse swing to finish with three wickets in the second innings. The visitors lost their last five wickets for the addition of 66 runs in 26.3 overs, leaving the home team a target of 77.
If he emulated Rahul Dravid by showing the same steely temperament in the first innings, Cheteshwar Pujara followed his example in effortlessly switching to the role of a makeshift opener in the absence of the bereaved Gautam Gambhir.
Overall, the game was a good advertisement for Test cricket for it had everything -- the turns, twists, disappointments and successes.
No one thought the game would go to the fifth day but credit to England for a fighting display although they eventually paid the price for conceding too much ground in the first innings.