How Pietersen defeated Ojha
Coming into the Mumbai Test, Kevin Pietersen had been dismissed 25 times by left-arm spinners in Tests since the beginning of 2008, at an average of 34.20. Two of those dismissals were at the hands of Pragyan Ojha in the first Test in Ahmedabad. In the two innings of that match, Pietersen had scored 11 runs from 36 balls off Ojha. Thus, coming into this match, Pietersen had plenty to prove, especially on a pitch which was likely to be even more challenging for batting than the strip at Motera.
Not only did Pietersen rise to that challenge, he convincingly won that battle against Ojha. Though he fell to him once again, by the time he was finally dismissed, he had done enough and more to banish the left-arm demons from his head, in the process also swinging the game in England's favour.
Overall, Pietersen scored 74 of his 186 runs off Ojha, and faced 105 deliveries from him. That's a healthy strike rate of 70.48, but a closer look at his innings shows Pietersen didn't start off aggressively against him; he took his time against Ojha, but showed his intent against the other bowlers.
Off his first eight balls from Ojha, Pietersen scored just one run, but he was helped out by Harbhajan Singh at the other end, off whom he picked off 17 from 13 balls during that period, including four fours. That settled him enough to spank Ojha twice through mid-off for fours, so that by the time Ojha completed that spell, Pietersen had scored 19 off 31 balls from him, with his overall score being 42 from 52.
When Ojha returned for his next spell, Pietersen was already on 62 from 79, but even then Ojha was given plenty of respect, as Pietersen played out two maiden overs from him, and scored only four off 28 balls from him. At that stage, he'd scored 23 off 59 balls from Ojha, and 50 off 51 balls from everyone else; clearly, Ojha's left-arm spin was treated with extra care.
Once he got his eye in on the third morning, though, it didn't matter who bowled to him. His last 113 runs came off 123 balls, of which 51 were scored from 46 balls off Ojha, and 62 off 77 off the rest of the bowlers.
|v Ojha||23||59||2/ 0||49|
|v the rest||50||51||8/ 0||28|
|v Ojha||51||46||5/ 3||26|
|v the rest||62||77||5/ 1||40|
Cook was an excellent partner at the other end. While Pietersen was initially circumspect against Ojha, Cook took up the onus of scoring off him, while Pietersen kept the runs coming off the offspinners, even as Cook was obviously more cautious against them. Overall, Pietersen scored at more than a run a ball off Ashwin, the bowler who was expected to cause England plenty of problems coming into this series. Together, Pietersen and Cook completely blunted India's spin attack.
|Pietersen-Runs/ Balls||4s/ 6s||Cook - Runs/ Balls||4s/ 6s|
|Pragyan Ojha||74/ 105||7/ 3||45/ 66||5/ 1|
|R Ashwin||52/ 46||4/ 1||48/ 121||5/ 0|
|Harbhajan Singh||37/ 43||6/ 0||24/ 50||2/ 0|
Apart from the Cook-Pietersen partnership, the big difference between the two teams was the performance of the spinners, particularly the lengths they bowled. India's spinners bowled 27 short balls and conceded 62 runs off them, compared to England's 13 runs from eight such balls. England's batsmen also used the cut and the back-foot drive to score plenty of runs, while the sweep shot served them well to nullify the bounce and turn on the track.
|England - Runs/ Balls||4s/ 6s||India - Runs/ Balls||4/ 6s|
|Cut/ back-foot drive||74/ 53||10/ 0||53/ 47||7/ 0|
|Sweep/ reverse-sweep||59/ 44||7/ 0||14/ 10||3/ 0|
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter