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Sunil Gavaskar - Master's words

Gavaskar thinks England meandered away the advantage they got by winning the toss.

Friday, December 12, 2021
England didn't capitalise on winning the toss

First things first; a big thank you to the England and Wales Cricket Board, and to Kevin Pietersen and his team for agreeing to come back to India to play the two Test matches. 

This is a brave decision which would not have been an easy one to make. Kevin Pietersen's comment that we need to stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with India at this hour, will win him not just many more followers in India but all over the world, which is tired of the attempts of a misguided few to change the world's thinking to their own.

There will be cynics of course who will suggest that it is the lure of cash rewards that helped the players make up their minds, and that is rich coming as it does from those who were in their day prepared to stab their country's cricket boards in the back for a few dimes more in a banned country. 

England's meandering approach in the session before tea took them nowhere, as India came back to take a grip on the match. The advantage of winning the toss was lost as England grew more tentative by the minute, especially after Alastair Cook threw his wicket away to a horrible shot. He had done the hard work and built a good solid partnership with Andrew Strauss, but it was as if he was happy having reached his fifty when he suddenly had an ugly hoick at Harbhajan, and skied the ball to Zaheer at mid on. It was a typical T20 shot with the front leg moved out of the way, but in doing so he had to reach for the ball as it turned a bit away from him and ended up with no control over it and hitting it high up in the air. The sweep shot was Strauss's most productive shot and he used it intelligently against the spinners, especially Amit Mishra.

Strauss hit the leggie with the turn from way outside his off stump, but because he was always attempting to hit it along the ground he didn't look in any trouble. The other shot he played with certainty was the cut shot, and he profited from it every time Harbhajan dropped it fractionally short. Apart from that he just pushed and nudged the ball away for singles and twos. It wasn't an elegant innings but an effective one, and but for his gritty effort, England would have been in a worse position than they are in now.

Zaheer was the pick of the Indian bowlers as he used the reverse swing to good effect, and had the batsmen bewildered. The wicket of Pietersen was a clever piece of bowling as he banged in a short ball across the English skipper, and had him caught as he tried to hook it over his right shoulder.

England will be hoping that Flintoff will add some more to the total and give their bowlers some runs to work with. They have two spinners in their team and so will be bowling last, and that's why it's crucial for India not to allow the English tail to wag and get them past 300 runs. The toss was England's, but the day's honours went to India.