Giles hails Mumbai victory
Ashley Giles has lauded England’s outstanding second-Test triumph against India in Mumbai and suggested the four-match series is now “anyone’s game”.
Giles, an England selector and coach of LV= County Champions Warwickshire, featured in some exceptional victories in the sub-continent during his playing days.
In the early 2000s, under the stewardship of now-India coach Duncan Fletcher, England won back-to-back series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Yet, despite the rich history of successes over time, Giles believes yesterday’s ranks as one of the most impressive he can remember.
“I do not know exactly where it ranks, but it has got to be right up there,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“Considering everything, such as the first Test, the conditions, some of the criticism about the way we play spin, losing the toss and the wicket pretty much being prepared for their three spinners, to win by 10 wickets is an amazing achievement.”
England’s victory was built upon some outstanding individual performances, with Monty Panesar claiming 11 wickets and Graeme Swann eight.
But the most impressive efforts - on a pitch that turned sharply from day one - came from Alastair Cook and, in particular, man of the match Kevin Pietersen who struck 122 and 186 respectively.
“You obviously need those key individual performances as they are what win you games and Swann, Panesar, Cook and Pietersen were fantastic,” added Giles.
The upshot of the victory is the series now being beautifully poised, with Cook et al now likely confident of becoming the first England side to win in India since 1984-85.
Giles says such a success would be the “final frontier” for this England side, especially after they emerged from Australia with a 3-1 Ashes triumph two years ago.
He revealed: “The sub-continent - and India, in particular - is the final frontier; to go there and win after a side went to Australia and won the Ashes (is the next target).
“India is obviously a very different challenge, but to be the best side in the world, you have got to be adaptable in all conditions. And with the score now 1-1 with two to play, it is anyone’s game.”
Their hopes of achieving such a feat have surely been boosted by the efforts of Swann and Panesar, who comfortably out-bowled India’s spin triumvirate of Pragyan Ojha, Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin.
Giles said: “You have got three spinners there all with great records. Harbhajan did not play the first Test, but he has 400 Test wickets. For our two guys to out-bowl them is nice for the CV and confidence.
“The good thing about going to the sub-continent as a spinner is that there is a good chance you are going to bowl in tandem with another spinner.
“You build a good partnership and good momentum because you are getting through your overs quickly and - when the wickets start turning - it is fun anyway.
“I thought Monty was excellent. Considering he did not play in the first Test, to come in and bowl the way he did was excellent. He bowled really well. I think it was good captaincy from Cook as well to get Monty in the game early and before Swann to get him settled.”
Giles certainly holds the spin twins in high regard, admitting he cannot remember a time England were so well stocked in that department.
He added: “I do not remember a time recently when we have had two spinners who have probably got over 350 wickets; Swanny has got 200 and Monty 150-plus.
“I would not like to guess when that happened. You have got two experienced guys of quality who should be coming into their prime of spinners. It bodes well.”