The England spinners came, they saw and they beat their fancied Indian counterparts at their own game.
Coming into the game, all the hype surrounded India’s spinners. MS Dhoni even tried to rattle England with a triple spin attack. But to the dismay of the home fans, the effectiveness of R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha paled in comparison with Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.
On Sunday, as the India trio bowled to Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook, it looked like the most docile of tracks. But once Panesar and Swann had a go, they made the ball dance.
India’s off-spinners have been a big let down. Extracting bounce has been their forte and this pitch was tailor-made for that. Ashwin was under pressure after flopping in the second innings at Ahmedabad. There, he paid the price for experimenting too much, here he couldn't get the line or the length right. The Chennai bowler came into the series with a huge reputation on home turfs, but he has now been left requiring to prove he can do the job against the big teams as well.
A lot was expected of Harbhajan too on his comeback. But he has been disappointing.
Pragyan Ojha was again the pick of the Indian spinners though lack of pace meant he was not as effective as Panesar.
In the evening, the England spinners were unplayable. Within 33 overs they had left the India innings in tatters. Panesar imparted enough revolutions on the ball for the delivery to bamboozle the batsmen.
Gautam Gambhir, the only batsman to show resistance, said the faster pace at which the English duo bowled made the difference. “The England spinners were quicker in the air. There was bite and bounce on the wicket, so some balls will turn and some will keep straight,” he said. “So, maybe they bowled with ideal speed, which made a huge difference.”
Pietersen said: “In the nets, when you face Monty you know he bowls at magnificent pace. Pace is very important. And Swann is the first or second best off-spinner in the world.”