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Monty on the money

Posted in England in India 2012-13

Monty Panesar

Monty Panesar's 11 wickets at Mumbai was his Test-best

Barring injury, Monty Panesar will play alongside Graeme Swann for the rest of the Test series in India.

Panesar, who was left out for the nine-wicket loss at Ahmedabad, marked his recall with a Test-best 11 wickets in England’s series-levelling 10-wicket win in Mumbai.

The left-armer spinner exploited a Wankhede Stadium pitch prepared to provide sharp turn and bounce by constantly troubling the opposing batsmen.

Swann did likewise and the off-break bowler’s eight scalps came from 16.4 less overs than Panesar, whose threat with the new ball saw him bowl earlier in both innings.

It will be interesting to see who has the most wickets by the end of the rubber, Swann having had a head-start of six in the first Test.

Panesar made his Test bow in India during March 2006 and was England’s primary spinner for the next three years, earning 115 wickets in 33 games before Swann arrived on the scene in late 2008.

Both featured in the two Tests versus India that December, Swann making his debut, and Panesar was still preferred for England’s next - against West Indies two months later.

Monty Panesar & Graeme Swann

It will be fascinating to see whether Swann and Panesar can bowl England to a series win

Having taken only one wicket in an innings-and-23-defeat at Kingston, Panesar was retained for the second Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua that was abandoned after 10 balls due an unfit outfield.

An extra match was hastily arranged at the Antigua Recreation Ground, for which Swann was selected ahead of Panesar. Swann rewarded that decision with eight wickets in the game and has been first choice since, becoming England’s most prolific off-spinner during the Ahmedabad Test and reaching 206 wickets at Mumbai.

Including Swann’s first two Tests, the former Northamptonshire team-mates have played together eight times in the longest format for near enough identical returns. Swann has 38 wickets in those matches to Panesar’s 37.

Like Swann joining Nottinghamshire in early 2005, Panesar has benefited from moving to Sussex in late 2009 and playing in Division One of the LV= County Championship this season and last.

Panesar subsequently ended two and a half years out of the Test team during the series with Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates at the start of this year. He took seven wickets in both his Tests there.

Having played in March’s first Test with Sri Lanka, Samit Patel became England’s second spinner in the other encounter with those opponents. That choice was again made at Ahmedabad but Patel’s left-arm spin lacked Panesar’s potency.

Panesar duly returned in Mumbai, a decision he justified with figures of 5-129 and 6-81 in a stunning display of slow bowling that undermined a vaunted home line-up.

That performance has seemingly sealed his place alongside Swann for the rest of the series, leaving India once again fearing England's spin twins.

Many teams often find themselves struggling to find one outstanding tweaker, so Alastair Cook can count himself lucky to have two.

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