Four years ago, Zaheer Khan was a pain for England due to his reverse swing. But Zaheer probably may not know that he had also gained an understudy in a finer aspect of the art, hiding the shiny side of the ball until the point of release.
With England on top after a topsy-turvy first day at the Eden Gardens, James Anderson is happy to attribute his success to Khan. “I remember some years back, might be the last time we toured here, Zaheer did it (hiding the shine) a lot. That's when I started practising it,” said Anderson after finishing the day with three crucial wickets for 68.
Gautam Gambhir too said it becomes very difficult when the shine is hidden from the batsman, before adding that reverse swing will play a big role in the Test.
Former India medium-pacer and coach, Madan Lal, said the effectiveness of reverse swing also depends on a few other factors. “You need to be clever to use the skill.
A good speed, say around 135-140 km/hr, is also required to make reverse swing effective. Most important though is how much can you hide the shine from batsmen during release,” said Lal.
According to Anderson, it needs practice. “It's a good skill. It's a tricky thing to do it in a tricky hour,” he said, referring to the post tea-session when he looked the most dangerous and took his biggest scalp, that of Sachin Tendulkar.
Just after drinks in the post-tea session, Matt Prior took a good low catch after Tendulkar hung his bat at Anderson's delivery that shaped away after pitching.
Anderson had already made a mark on the Test by then. By bowling short spells of four-five overs after his opening one, Anderson kept the Indian batsmen guessing.
“We were actually waiting for it to reverse the last two games but didn't happen. This pitch is perfect for reverse swing. It's very abrasive,” said Anderson.
He had induced Virat Kohli to edge to Graeme Swann and later castled R Ashwin with just nine balls left for stumps, the third over with the second new ball.
On Thursday, with Steven Finn almost always adhering to a probing line, England could swing the momentum their way in the first hour itself. “Unlike in the previous games, the new ball swung here. I suppose the early start has helped,” said Anderson.