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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Cricket Columns

Good that India have included Harbhajan
Ian Botham
November 24, 2012
First Published: 00:10 IST(24/11/2012)
Last Updated: 00:14 IST(24/11/2012)

Day One was an interesting day of Test match cricket. India won the toss and missed out on the advantage, but at the end, with Cheteshwar Pujara and R Ashwin at the crease, they would be thinking that they recovered well.

England started off well with Gambhir's dismissal off the second ball and then Monty Panesar was just brilliant. After the first day, we can see why England missed Panesar in Ahmedabad. The wickets he picked were the most crucial.

Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are game-changers and we know what impact they could have had on this English attack.

The pitch at the Wankhede, with the red soil, has always turned and assisted spinners and it makes sense for India to include Harbhajan Singh in the side.

England spinners have started off well and as the game progresses, the wicket will turn more, helping the formidable India spin attack. The first session of second day's play will be extremely crucial for both the teams.

If England can break the Pujara-Ashwin stand, and then run through the tail, they will gain the upper hand though they will still have to bat very well.

But if the India batsmen get the better of the English bowlers and manage a score of around 400, I think it will be far too many for England considering the turn in the pitch.

There was a very interesting banner on display on Day One, which said Pujara was the "Wall In Reconstruction" and that pretty much sums up my views on this young lad.

His technique, shot selection and temperament has been wonderful.

What has impressed me the most is his willingness to keep batting and putting a price tag on his wicket. He has impressed in every outing and the English bowlers still haven't found a way to get him out.

Ashwin's batting has also been very good as well and the stage is set for another good day of cricket. PMG

The writer is an EX-England player.


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