India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 4th day November 26, 2012

Panesar the difference - Dhoni


MS Dhoni has admitted to being disappointed "to an extent" with his own spinners, but he insisted Monty Panesar was a touch above everyone else, making the big difference. India finally got the square turner they wanted, played three spinners, won the toss, posted a first-innings total that many thought was surplus in these conditions, but squandered it through some ordinary spin bowling.

In helpful conditions, Panesar and Graeme Swann took 19 wickets between them in 121.2 overs. India's three specialist bowlers bowled 113.1 overs for just nine wickets. To say the Indian spinners were outplayed will be an understatement. This is one of the most disappointing performances by an Indian spin unit in favourable home conditions.

It can be granted that Panesar's natural pace is more suited to bowling on such pitches, but Swann adjusted well too, unlike the Indian bowlers. R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh were especially friendly on a surface where spinners had no business being friendly. Especially disappointing was their tendency to bowl short, not making the batsmen drive, which was where most of the mistakes happened. That is what, according to Dhoni, was the bigger flaw than not being able to adjust to the pace required on the surface.

"There is a particular style of bowling," Dhoni said. "We also tried to bowl fast. We didn't get the same purchase. It's the same as two different batsmen. Some conditions suit you, some don't. I felt the only thing we could have done better is make them drive more than we did. If you bowl short on a wicket that has a bit of bounce, you give them time. Especially the fact that we were getting more purchase when we were bowling a little slow."

However, Dhoni was fulsome in his praise of Panesar. "The way Monty bowled, he was different from other bowlers," Dhoni said. "All the other bowlers were getting bounce and turn, but Monty bowled at real pace. He bowled at 90-95kph and even above that, and still he got real turn. He had a big impact on the game.

"The other spinners got the bounce, but they never looked to trouble the batsmen as much a Monty did. Big credit goes to him. If you get performances like this, margin of defeat can be big. Credit also goes to Pujara from our side, who batted really well. Pietersen and Cook batted really well. They batted off the back foot really well. I wish we were a bit fuller, and made them drive more."

However, Dhoni stood by his demand for exactly the kind of pitch this Test was played on. "I think this was a very good wicket," he said. "Tests in the subcontinent should be played on such wickets. The toss wasn't that vital. It started turning from the first day."

Dhoni insisted he would love to get such pitches more often, regardless of the result here. "Of course I will want a similar wicket," he said. "That's what our speciality is. What's the point of playing on a flat track and winning the toss and batting for three or four days over the Test? You want to face challenges in test cricket. These are the kinds of wickets that push you. Definitely all the wickets should be like this."

However, Dhoni's reasoning for such pitches calls for a much better show from the players in Kolkata. "The best thing about these conditions is, no side is guaranteed a win," Dhoni said. "You have to play well to win." If India do get another turner, they will "have to play well to win."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tahir on November 29, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    I dont agree with Dhoni's notion as there is world of difference b/w a 2nd rated test team and the one in the lower order. Yes, India can give fight but with the resources that England have they can outclass India regardless of wicket. Same is the case that on seaming wicket stronger team is always more likely to dominate and weaker teams have only chance to survive otherwise ZIM, BD, WI, NZ will win everything on their home soil.

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    It is high time India look for young blood with all respect to the older guys please bring young players they have played enough and earned enough.

  • suresh on November 28, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    Leaving aside the current series, I wonder what India's team composition will be on the tour to South Africa. With the existing pool, it looks like it is going to be a one-sided affair in SA. Frankly, let alone the playing eleven, we do not have any bench strength either. It's high time we brought in some young talent who believe in grinding it out, not the superstars of the IPL, which is a bane on Cricket in India.

  • John on November 27, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    @Nutcutlet on (November 27 2012, 09:24 AM GMT) Fair analysis there. So you're saying Finn if sufficiently fit or Meaker if not. To me the 1st test selection/2nd test selection and the impact Monty had was UAE deja vu. Fortunately this time the batsmen (mainly Cook/KP) didn't undo the bowlers good work

  • Dummy4 on November 27, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    In last T20 world cup, India defeated England by a big margin on back of India's spin bowlers. However that English team did not have following players: 1. Panesar 2. Cook 3. Peiterson. These three players were the main reason, England defeated India in India on a spinning track.

    1. Captain Cook is in awesome batting form. India has not figured out a way to get him out. It seems he gets out only after he gets tired of batting and running.

    2. India's spin resources are seriously lacking. We keep recycling same 5-6 players - Harbhajan, Ashwin, Ojha, Misra and Chawla. None of them are top class (bhaji was in past). Time to pay serious attention and to appoint a spin coach. Time also to nurture new talent such as Nadeep from Jharkhand .

    3. With Darvid and Laxman retired and Sachin, Harbhajan and Zaheer far from their peak, Indian team is far weaker. Time to take bold decisions. Rest seniors for a test or two.

    4. Peiterson, like Sehwag, can make any bowling look bad on his day.

  • Manoj on November 27, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    Dhoni and team are definitely not the top ranking team. They will eventually get there. The bowlers have to bring variety in their bowling on a turning wicket.

  • joseph on November 27, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    Is it just Panesar, What about IRON MAN COOK and GAME CHANGER PIETERSON? To me Ind are no good, just Pujara's and Ojha's performance make it look like a team win. Congrats to Eng, for showing that they can win in overseas.

  • ian on November 27, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    It seems that Eng is at last on the right path & reversing the loss in Ahmedabad with the crushing victory in Mumbai might suggest that the tide has turned. But in truth Eng's win was down to extraordinary performances from four players, with Matt Prior also making a worthy contribution. Good & getting better, but Eng's traditional strong suit has yet to make its contribution. Wondering what should be done with Kolkata next up, I've glanced in Wisden for the report of the last Test there, v WI last November. Let's assume that the pitch will play in a similar way & the season's the cool one still. The pitch was 'utterly placid' & Ind won the toss, racked up 631-7d (Dravid, VVS, MSD all 100s) bowled WI out for 153 & 463. But what I found interesting was who were the most effective bowlers. In the Ind inns, quicks took 5/7; for India, Yadav took 7/103; Ojha 6/168; Ashwin 4/186 & I Sharma 2/109. Conclusion? Spinners toiled in K, & GENUINE pace got results. Lesson for Eng? Finn or Meaker!

  • VC on November 27, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    Its really FUNNY!!!.. MSD knew that his bowlers were bowling a bit short and not inducing the batsmen to drive - ONLY AFTER THE MATCH!!!! does it take more than 130 overs (to be precice-788 balls (131.2 overs)), to understand that. Another excuse from Our Great Captain..

  • Himanshu on November 27, 2012, 4:54 GMT

    There are several reasons for Indias defeat: - 1. No bowler except Ojha bowled well in conditions that suited them 2. Regardless of the condition this batting line up failed miserably in second innings. even in the first, only Pujara showed some character and fight (and Ashwin) 3. Dhoni himself has to take the blame for his own batting. (His keeping was very good as he did not give any byes on such tracks and such poor bowling) 4. Fletcher is not adding any value to this side. He is the only un-common factor before and after the world cup. He has to go!!!

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