Underwood believes Panesar can lead England to victory in India for the first time in 27 years
Former England spinner Derek Underwood has labelled left-arm spinner Monty Panesar as the x-factor for the fourth Test against India at Nagpur.
Panesar played an instrumental role in helping England win the second Test at Mumbai, where he took 11 wickets, and the third Test at Kolkata, where he took five wickets and has now given the visitors a 2-1 lead heading into the final Test.
Underwood is backing Panesar and off-spinner Graeme Swann to continue troubling the Indian batsmen throughout the fourth Test and perhaps even break England’s 27-year losing streak in the country.
“You should be looking to play the bowler who is most likely to bowl a side out,” The Independent quoted Underwood as saying. “I think Monty is the best-qualified spinner that we have, other than Swanny of course.
Talking about England’s loss in the first Test at Ahmedabad, Underwood stated that India would have failed to reach 500 if Panesar had been included in the lineup.
“I don’t think they would have got 500 if Monty had been bowling at the other end and given England 20 or 30 overs,” Underwood added. “If he’s bowling at the other end to Swanny then Monty would benefit considerably.
“Bowlers work in pairs and that’s particularly true of spin bowlers. When Swann bowls on his own he has the seam bowlers at the other end and he misses out. When you’ve got two spinners bowling in tandem the volume of overs goes up and they can devise their own plans. When you’re bowling on a wicket like that [in Ahmedabad] that can make a huge difference.”
However, Underwood warned the England side not to underestimate India in the final Test since they will try and do everything possible to end the series as a 2-2 draw.
“Bowling in India is as tough as it gets for a slow bowler,” Underwood said. “The Indian batsmen are superb players of spin, mainly because it’s something they’re so familiar with. Monty has the variations to make life tougher for them though and Swann showed in Ahmedabad that he is at least the equal of India’s spinners.”