The Home Track Bully and the Swann, Day 1 at Ahmedabad

England haven’t won a series in this country for the last several decades. And the way they’ve begun this test, seem like they’re never going to for the foreseeable.

For starters, picking the right team would have helped. Which braino came up with the idea of going in with three seamers and just one specialist spinner, on evidence of a conventional Indian spinning wicket? And it’s not like it came as a surprise either – everybody knew what the pitches were going to be like,  ever since the Gambit uttered those infamous words during the WACA test at the start of the year; “Wait till you come over to India and play us there”.

Okay, let’s be honest. Monty would not have run through the Indian batting line-up today, but he provides a semblance of control and a decent chance of picking up a wicket or two at the very least – a concept Samit Patel can likely never grapple with in his entire career. That said, he’s an all-rounder after all and his batting is still yet to come over the next few days. Twice, too.

Swann on the other hand, was bloody impressive with his four wicket haul. Especially when you consider that the likes of Warne and Murali have been largely ineffective against India in India, that takes some extra portions of skill and talent. Also proves that conventional off-spin is a much better ploy than an array of arm-balls, doosras, teesras, chauthas and heaven knows what else the sub-continental spinners come up with every now and then.

Now India. I know most Indian fans were dazzled with Sehwag’s run a ball ton, but guess what? I don’t care. I’ve had enough of the guy frankly. Back in the mid-2000s I was deluded into thinking that he could end up an all time great with his then stupendous record in the sub-continent, and workable ones in England, South Africa and Australia. Since that era though, his stats in the latter have plunged and the skew in numbers is too large to be considered an anomaly anymore. Therefore, a bloke who averages 20 in New Zealand, the Caribbean, England and South Africa, but 90 in a place like Pakistan comes off as a one-dimensional weirdo, thank you very much.

When he first came on the scene, he appeared a fairly intelligent cricketer who could keep the scoreboard rattling along with his attacking strokeplay and healthy strike rate; nowadays he bats as if he NEEDS to go that fast and gets out rashly in the process. Yes, the result was a well made 117 today, but you can’t forget the Afridi-like 40s against the Blackcaps just under a couple of months ago? Or worse, the king pair against the same opposition – England, at Birmingham last summer?

Liked the look of Pujara though. 98* overnight isn’t ideal, but he’ll go far. Yuvraj at the other end is however another bat who I’ve taken a moderate dislike to. Good tale about the cancer and all that, but he’s another one who has faded from my mental pedestal over the last seven years or so. Seeing him in a white jersey just seems wrong. Surely there are better players in the domestic circuit in India than him? Or the previous occupant of the middle order slot, Raina?

Hope we can kick on though – probably look to score a 500 and grind the Poms to the dust with a follow-on on the way, hopefully. Play starts in an hour from now.


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