People talk about the popularity of the one-day and Twenty20 formats, but nothing beats the excitement of Test cricket. Building partnerships is the key to winning Test matches and Alistair Cook and Kevin Pietersen did exactly that. The solid foundation laid by the two senior batsmen, backed up by some brilliant bowling, has put England in a winning position.
Cook is a run machine and has led from the front. He likes to go on and on; and it's wonderful to see how he has applied himself. Pietersen's innings was what England needed. When he is at his best, it's the team that benefits immensely. It's very crucial to get on top of the bowlers and accelerate because once you give the India spinners a bit of breathing space in these conditions, they will get dangerous. Pietersen's innings was complete dominance and highly entertaining.
As soon as their partnership was broken, the India spinners got on top and the other England batsmen found it difficult to get going. It was the same case with the India batsmen right from the start of their second innings. Many will raise fingers at the way they applied themselves, but credit goes to the England spinners, who were outstanding.
Monty Panesar bowled splendidly. He has understood the wicket and has taken it to his advantage. The major difference between him and the India spinners was the pace. Monty bowled quicker, which helped him extract extra bounce off the surface and once again ended up with the most vital wickets. Gautam Gambhir applied himself very well against the two spinners. In the past, the Wankhede track has produced some exciting finishes, but I really don't expect something unusual.
Practically, India are 31 for seven and I think the game will be wrapped quickly today morning. The first session in general has produced more wickets and I expect that on the fourth morning as well. I see England levelling the series 1-1. PMG
The writer is a former England captain