Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann believes that India batsman Ajinkya Rahane was “without a doubt, the standout Indian player in the second Test” against England at Lord’s.
Rahane scored a vital century to save India from crashing and burning when they were already in a major tailspin at 145/7.
“Ajinkya Rahane was, without a doubt, the stand-out Indian player in the second Test,” Swann said. “There is no way he could have ever batted on a wicket like this. He would have turned up on the first morning, and thought to himself ‘How do you bat on a pitch like this?’ And then he went on to get that beautiful hundred. That first innings was the difference in this Test.
“The way he batted, he made England come up with the most ludicrous tactic I could imagine. That’s not about the bowlers or the captain, that is purely down to the batsman. For me, Rahane should have been the Man of the Match, no doubt.”
Despite Rahane’s century, pace bowler Ishant Sharma was named Man of the Match for his career-best bowling figures of 7-74, which gave India a 95-run win.
However, Swann noted that some of England’s batsmen “simply gifted” their wickets to the lanky seamer.
“Ishant bowled a splendid spell, don’t get me wrong,” Swann said. “But a few of those wickets were simply gifted to him by some really bad shots by the English batsmen. I was surprised that so many of them got out in the same way.
“England wasted too many opportunities on the first day. They should have bowled India out for under-200 from 140-odd for seven, but they allowed them to get 295. James Anderson and Stuart Broad should be very disappointed with the way they bowled on the first day because it was a wicket more suited to them. And that is the problem for England.”
Swann was also worried about the lack of impact the senior players were having.
“The senior players just aren’t firing,” he said. “Alastair Cook isn’t in form, Ian Bell isn’t scoring runs. Jimmy and Broad have been in poor form as well.Sometimes the whole team gets hidden behind one player who is doing very well. It was Bell who did that for us the last year. Right now we have no one to cover for the other batsmen. We haven’t even got that one bowler to cover for the whole of bowling attack either.”
Speaking about captain Alastair Cook, who has not been able to evade the limelight due to his drought with the bat, Swann suggested that he should try and change his approach.
“He has done everything right,” Swann said. “He’s gone over his routine, hit a 1,000 balls in the nets and even got a start in the second innings. But nothing has worked for him. So personally I would like to see him do something unnatural, go against his game.
“Go have a couple of beers, eat some junk food, calm down and take some pressure off, and then smash the bowling when you bat. Just throw caution to the wind. But I know he won’t do that. So I don’t really know the solution to this problem.”