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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Cricket

After the escape, local hero James Anderson trains guns on India
Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times
Manchester, August 07, 2014
First Published: 01:35 IST(7/8/2014)
Last Updated: 01:48 IST(7/8/2014)

Even if ICC CEO Dave Richardson had appealed against the judicial commissioner's verdict letting off James Anderson, it is unlikely it would have any impact on the fourth Test in Manchester.

It's such a long drawn process where the investigation has to be done from scratch that by the time the new jury would have arrived at a verdict, this contest would have long been over.

More than anything else, the BCCI letter to ICC seemed another attempt to keep up the pressure on their main rival, Anderson.

There's no disputing the threat he poses to the visitors' chances in the series. The good equation between the England and Indian board aside, winning the series remains top priority for both. Hence, gamesmanship is a given.

FOCAL POINT

All eyes will be on Anderson in Old Trafford. Not only is he the local hero, he is the super star who provides England the cutting edge. In England's first training session on Tuesday, the series broadcaster was doing a special shoot with him.

After a slow start, he is back to his best. Tied at 1-1, with two to go, the series is poised for a thrilling finish. India will be hoping to maintain the 'Jadeja' pressure on Anderson.

So far, it has had the opposite effect. The bowler came out inspired at Southampton, wreaking havoc with a brilliant exhibition of swing bowling.

To suit England's attack, the Old Trafford curator has prepared a fast and bouncy track, said to be the quickest of the series.

India will seek solace in the fact that Anderson's record at home is average, 12 wickets in four Tests.

But only 13 wickets away from surpassing Ian Botham as England's highest wicket-taker, he is a master of his craft and most devastating with the new cherry.

Hence, the crucial passage of play will be at the start of the innings. The onus will be on the openers. Murali Vijay has been superb and will again be the man India will look up to.

He has taken the battle to Anderson with impeccable judgement of his off-stump and reading of the incoming balls when he mixes it up. The only game he failed, in Southampton, India's batting crumbled.

Success against left-handers is one area Anderson would like to improve on. So, he may not be too excited to see Gautam Gambhir take strike with Vijay.

GAMBHIR GIVES HOPE

He had found the going easy against Shikhar Dhawan, but the last time he took on Gambhir, in India in 2012, the left-hander came out on top. In seven innings, Anderson had Gambhir twice but cheaply only once, the batsman making 65, 60, 40 and 37.

The job of the openers will be to tire out the pacers before the middle-order gets in. That template brought success at Lord's when Ajinkya Rahane took advantage of the work done by the top order.

MS Dhoni said the main challenge of playing Anderson is in how he sets up a batsman.

"What is good about Anderson is how he comes up and confuses batsmen and gets his wicket. On the 2007 tour, he was working on his in-swinger and didn't have much control over it.

"Now he is a different bowler and the in-swinger is his strength. He is terrific and from the crowd's perspective, he is the kind of bowler you want to see because he keeps on working out the batsmen and bowling aggressively."


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