Panesar plays down fine display
Monty Panesar reflected modestly on his excellent opening-day performance for England in the second Test at Mumbai.
Recalled in place of Tim Bresnan, the left-arm spinner represented the tourists’ main threat throughout the day and returned fine figures of 4-91.
Panesar was chiefly responsible for India’s initial slide to 169 for six, although an unbroken stand of 97 between centurion Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin left things intriguingly poised at stumps.
With the used pitch at the Wankhede Stadium assisting spin bowlers from the outset, Panesar played down his own efforts.
“It was just nice to get an opportunity and they’ve already played four days' cricket on here, so you’re kind of expected to make it turn and bounce,” he said.
“The Ahmedabad pitch was a little bit slower. This one seems to have a bit more turn and bounce, so it keeps all the spinners and the seamers interested.
“I was just trying to get my action in good order and make sure I was doing the right things.”
While Panesar’s overall display was laudable, there were two notable highlights.
Virender Sehwag was cleaned up for 30 in his 100th Test and Panesar also bowled the great Sachin Tendulkar with a wonderful delivery that drifted in to the right-hander before turning sharply to take the top of off stump.
“They are both world-class players, and they are great players in India, so you’ve got to bowl balls like that to get them out, or it’s going to be quite difficult,” Panesar reasoned.
“It was quite nice to get two scalps like that.”
Although India’s defiant fightback took the shine off Panesar’s initial success, the Sussex tweaker believes England can be more than happy with their day’s work.
“I thought we stuck at it really well out there,” he added. “We put a lot of pressure on the Indian batters early doors, which is something they probably didn’t expect.
“They won the toss, looked to have a bat and probably thought maybe they’d only have a few wickets down for 200-plus. But we applied a lot of pressure to them, and having five wickets down really early was a testament to how we did that.
“They obviously built a really good partnership. What we’re hoping is we can restrict them to under 300.
“That kind of partnership has given a bit of momentum to the Indian innings, but overall I don’t think they expected us to dominate the first two sessions like that.”
Ashwin was similarly positive when it came to assessing India’s prospects, given the difficulties posed by the Mumbai surface.
“When it starts spinning (here), it does go; it’s quite a tough wicket to bat on,” he explained.
“At this point in time, we’ve got to a position where we can feel a little comfortable ... if we can get a few more runs, I think we can put a lot of pressure on them.
“There’s a lot more bounce. I don’t think you can really plonk your foot forward and keep defending. There’s definitely more aid for the spinner, whereas Ahmedabad was low and slow.”
Ashwin also had words of praise for the indefatigable Pujara, who continues to replicate the efforts of his predecessor, the great Rahul Dravid.
“I thought it was a brilliant knock,” said Ashwin. “He trusted his defence, and it was a very well-paced innings.
“He’s got a great temperament, is in great form, and he’s someone who will keep on grinding the runs. He doesn’t get small hundreds; he gets big ones.”