A Test series in India is a gruelling task for any visiting nation and not much is expected from the away team as the home team is so dominant in their own conditions. However, in 2012-13, England led by Captain Alastair Cook went against all odds to put up a masterclass on how to win a Test series in India.
Winning a Test in the subcontinent is in itself a phenomenal achievement but winning a Test series in India is almost unheard of. In November 2012, an exciting England team came to India to face a squad who was undergoing a transitional phase as the likes of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble had moved on from international cricket and new faces in Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin were looking to make a mark at the highest level.
England on the other hand had a settled team with decent international experience. In Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, James Anderson, Graeme Swann and Matt Prior they had stalwarts of English cricket and players who will go down in their history as top cricketers. Here we take a look at what it takes to win a series in India by revisiting England’s 1-2 win from the 2012-13 tour.
PROPER TECHNIQUE AGAINST SPIN
Players who can judge the length of the ball quickly and go right back or right to the pitch of the ball against spin have a chance of scoring runs in Indian conditions. In the 2012-13 series, England had Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior who did exactly that. All had different techniques but the gist of it was the same. These four finished as the top five run-getters in the series and that tells you the dominance England had over India in the series.
Along with a proper defensive technique, it is imperative that batters play spin proactively. If you let the spinners bowl at you constantly then one ball is bound to do something out of the rough and that will have the number of the batsman. So rotation of strike and smashing the bad balls to the boundary is the key to putting pressure back on the Indian spinners.
On the red soil at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, England out-batted India on a rank turner. They came into this match 1-0 down in the series and there were talks about a possible whitewash. With their backs against the wall, captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen put on a masterclass on how to play spin and put together one of the best partnerships ever in Indian conditions. Pietersen, in particular, was lethal against the spinners and scored 186 with a strike rate of almost 80. KP credits Rahul Dravid for his newfound technique as the latter sent him an email on how to play spin in a post DRS world. Seems like KP implemented each and every word of the email effectively and Indians were on the receiving end of something special. Maybe some of the current English batters need to go through that email thoroughly.
TWO TOP-CLASS SPINNERS
For any overseas team to win a Test series in India you need to have quality spin bowlers who’d take the majority of wickets in the series. England were blessed with precisely that as Graeme Swann who is regarded as one of the best off-spinners of the recent times paired with Monty Panesar, who was in the form of his life during the series.
Panesar wasn’t included in the first Test team and England dearly missed a second spinner option in that Test and were on the receiving end of a loss. They included him for the remainder of the series and he outbowled each and every bowler in that series. The pace at which he was bowling was the key along with pinpoint accuracy. He gave the Indian batters no loose balls and tested their defensive technique to the T.
Graeme Swann actually finished the series as the joint-highest wicket-taker of the series with 20 scalps to his name and Monty joined him with 17 wickets in just three matches. The duo was top class in the series and actually schooled the Indian spinners on how to bowl in their own conditions.
A REVERSE SWING SPECIALIST
The lion share of the wickets has to be taken by the spinner in Indian conditions but at the same time, a quality reverse swing bowler is a must if a team is to win a Test series in India. England had exactly that in James Anderson who had a point to prove in subcontinental conditions. He exploited reverse swing beautifully and picked up an important tally of 12 wickets in the series. At Eden Gardens, Kolkata, on a pitch which offered something to the seamers, James Anderson picked up key wickets of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh across both the innings and set that Test up beautifully for the visitors.
At Nagpur, which was the slowest pitch of them all, Anderson went one step further and picked up a four-wicket haul and rattled the Indian top-order. He won the Man of the Match Award in that Test and England scripted their first Test series win in India after 27 years.
VISIT OUR BLOG TO GET YOUR FIX FOR ALL OF THE MOST CURRENT CRICKET NEWS STORIES & FEATURES