India in England 2014 July 23, 2014

Rahane the stand-out player - Swann

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Agarkar: Rahane showed why he was picked ahead of Rohit

Ajinkya Rahane's counter-attacking century on the first day of the Lord's Test was the stand-out performance of the Test, according to Graeme Swann, the former England offspinner. On a green pitch, India stumbled to 145 for 7 but Rahane's fluent strokeplay pulled the team to safety. India scored 295 in the first innings when at one point, even 200 had looked difficult.

"Ajinkya Rahane was without a doubt the stand-out Indian player in the second Test," Swann said. "There is no way he could have ever batted on a wicket like this. He would have turned up on the first morning, and thought to himself 'How do you bat on a pitch like this?' And then he went on to get that beautiful hundred. That first innings was the difference in this Test.

"The way he batted, he made England come up with the most ludicrous tactic I could imagine. That's not about the bowlers or the captain, that is purely down to the batsman. For me, Rahane should have been the Man of the Match, no doubt."

It was, however, Ishant Sharma who was named the Man of the Match for his 7 for 74 in the fourth innings that sealed India's win. During a short period around lunch on the fifth day, Ishant's persistent short-ball barrage consumed five batsmen and England crumbled to 223 all out after being 173 for 4 just before the end of the first session.

"Ishant bowled a splendid spell, don't get me wrong," Swann said. "But a few of those wickets were simply gifted to him by some really bad shots by the English batsmen. I was surprised that so many of them got out in the same way.

"England wasted too many opportunities on the first day. They should have bowled India out for under-200 from 140-odd for seven, but they allowed them to get 295. James Anderson and Stuart Broad should be very disappointed with the way they bowled on the first day because it was a wicket more suited to them. And that is the problem for England."

Swann said England's senior players' form is a cause of concern as they are the ones who get the team to rally behind them. "The senior players just aren't firing," he said. "Alastair Cook isn't in form, Ian Bell isn't scoring runs. Jimmy and Broad have been in poor form as well.Sometimes the whole team gets hidden behind one player who is doing very well. It was Bell who did that for us the last year. Right now we have no one to cover for the other batsmen.

"We haven't even got that one bowler to cover for the whole of bowling attack either."

Alastair Cook, the England captain, has struggled to score runs for an extended period now and that has put a question mark over his place in the side. Swann suggested that a complete change of approach could help the batsman. "He has done everything right," Swann said. "He's gone over his routine, hit a 1000 balls in the nets and even got a start in the second innings. But nothing has worked for him. So personally I would like to see him do something unnatural, go against his game.

"Go have a couple of beers, eat some junk food, calm down and take some pressure off, and then smash the bowling when you bat. Just throw caution to the wind.

"But I know he won't do that. So I don't really know the solution to this problem."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashok on July 24, 2014, 13:52 GMT

    When a team is struggling to win, it is tough to pin point an answer or corrective action. India had a very strong team on paper in 2011 with top 5 batsmen amongst the best in the world. But they failed badly!. Problem was Fitness & inability to adapt to conditions in England + lack of determination & team work. Now the 2014 Indian team has a bunch of inexperienced guys but lot of belief in themselves & ability to learn & adapt fast to English conditions. England assumed they can walk over these inexperienced guys. But England is unable to Walk the Talk because the young Indian side is full of fight & determination. Despite Kohli's unexpected failures, others rose to the occasion. Kumar & Ishant led by producing their best bowling form whilst batsmen from 1 to 11 contributed. It is the "Team work + determined effort" in all departments that has helped India. If India continue to follow this team work, they will prove that they can bring the best out of them. That is the Right Approach!

  • Dummy4 on July 24, 2014, 10:52 GMT

    Surprising to see Swann offering his solutions to English cricket team. I think English players should follow Swan's example. Bail out of the team while the records and stats are still decent :)

  • Dummy4 on July 24, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    Exactly Rahane was the difference for first inning score of 200 or less to 295. So we made 95 more than what Eng would have thought to make us score on a green top. And what was the winning margin again?????

  • Jaykumar on July 24, 2014, 3:16 GMT

    @ harshthakor: I think u meant 'Ravindra Jadega'. :)

  • Sean on July 24, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    Ishant took 7, among them Bell and Cook were fantastic wickets; Ali was napping - not watching what happened to Root in the other end. The other wickets were gifted to him. His effort was fantastic. But, Rahane and Bhuvi deserved MOM awards. Rahane for the 100 and Bhuvi's 6 wickets (compared to Ishant's 7) and the runs scored. Sky commentary team got it wrong.

  • kumar on July 23, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    It was tough to decide who to give MOM to because everyone's contribtion was very important including Dhoni forcing Ishant for short balls. Ishant would have deserved this MOM 100% if short ball trap was his own ploy. So I would have preferred Rahane as the pitch supported only bowlers. It is funny some people say ENG lost because of bad luck. Some more people say ENG would have won the match adding IFs and BUTs. IF Rahane was not given out for a silly appeal then MAY BE India could have scored something between 375-400. And no doubt ENG would have anyway lost the match. So better we accept that it was purely ENG's failure. There are more chances that ENG can come back and win the next game. So at any cost India shouln't go to complacency mode.

  • Harsh on July 23, 2014, 17:24 GMT

    I congratulate Graeme Swann for this edition.I endorse his view that the true architect of India's historic win at Lords was Ajinkya Rahane.

    The budding youngster superbly blended his class with temperament and restraint with attack on a most difficult wicket.He showed that attack is the best form of defence like making masterly moves on a chessboard.India would have been dismissed for around 180 but for Rahane's masterpiece.It was one of the most combative test innings by an Indian batsmen overseas particularly on a green top.Rahane reminded one of batsmen like Asif Iqbal and Alan Border who were masters at batting with tail enders..

    True Ishant Sharma banged the final nails in the coffin like blowing out seven candles on the cake but it was Rahane's effort and later Bhuvanseh Kumar's and Ajay Jadeja that laid the foundation.It was the 300 + target that won the game for India and that is why to me Rahane was the man of the match.

  • Dummy4 on July 23, 2014, 16:56 GMT

    Ajinkya Rahane is one the mot exclusive talent India is ever ....Next Big Talent ...i not much big fan of who's getting MOM but still if u all goes through this match its about how India wins 1st day courtesy to Ajinkya Rahane...!!

  • Dummy on July 23, 2014, 16:47 GMT

    Rahane has right technique to play test level. No doubt he is future star in coming years. Calm and gud person like rahul.

  • Rupesh on July 23, 2014, 16:45 GMT

    Bhuvaneshwar, Rahane, Vijay, and Ishant, all four made critical contributions, and MoM could have gone to any one of them. Sometimes there is one standout player, and other times many contribute to a victory so there is no one person who can be signaled out. That's why MoM is limited or unfair at times.

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