How England learnt to win in Indian conditions
England's recent performances in the subcontinent were far from impressive. In fact, they were even beaten at home against the formidable Proteas. Those woeful results made them the under dogs for their tour to India. But they have turned the tables and their fortune, and how! Ironing out technical glitches and batting with patience has been the key to England's superiority in this series, writes Rediff.com's Bikash Mohapatra.
"We were well prepared but just didn't deliver," Alastair Cook, summing up England's performance following defeat in the opening Test at Motera.
At that stage expecting an English come back was nothing but a pipedream.
Critics were busy doing what they do best. This England team can never win in India, they said. The visitors' recent results in similar conditions further bolstered their claims.
England were humiliated 3-0 by Pakistan in Dubai and lost the opening Test on tour in Sri Lanka. They did win the second but that was more due to individual brilliance (read Kevin Pietersen) than team effort.
Besides, they landed in India having suffered multiple setbacks. A demoralising home defeat against South Africa, the loss of the No 1 Test ranking to the same team and the 'forced' retirement of the captain (Andrew Strauss) meant England had to produce something out of the ordinary if they hoped to make an impact in India and prevent the hosts from avenging the 4-0 whitewash suffered in the corresponding series last year.
And they have done exactly that.
Image: Alastair Cook
'It's a credit to our coaching staff and the leadership of Andy Flower'
With one Test to go England lead 2-1, following resounding wins in Mumbai and Kolkata, and remain in sight of their first series win on Indian soil since David Gower's side achieved it in 1984-85.
Not only had their batsmen -- led by an exemplary Alastair Cook -- outscore the formidable Indian names, their spinners (Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann) trumped their Indian counterparts. So how did this turnaround happen?
"I would say it was a lot of hard work and more importantly, we took what we did at the nets to the middle though I firmly believed that we were doing the right things all through," explained Cook. The England captain proceeded to elaborate his point.
"We had a tough 2012. So these wins are very important," he said, adding, "The way we quickly managed to rectify our problems, it's a credit to our coaching staff and the leadership of Andy Flower.
"Also I can't praise the players enough."
Image: Alistair Cook and Andy Flower
'Our batsmen had to look at our technique'
The captain said the defeat against Pakistan was an eye opener. It made them realise the problems and work towards eliminating them.
"The first thing was realisation of the problem, about playing spin," explained Cook, adding, "We realised the problem probably was not as big as made out to be.
"But all of us, as a batting unit, had to take a look at our technique and work out a method that suits each individual player.
"I know we didn't get a result in that third Test match (against Pakistan where England could have won). That match and the two in Sri Lanka is where we worked our socks off and pretty much pulled up our technique against spin.
"It's not going to happen overnight but we are starting to get a few results now."Besides, the team had to understand the virtues of patience and inculcate that to their batting in abundance on the subcontinent wickets.
Image: Cook and Compton
'We have worked very hard on our game to be able to adapt to these conditions'
"We just spoke about batting for long periods of time," explained Cook.
"There are not many people in world cricket who come to India and dominate the bowling the whole day, the way Kevin (Pietersen) did it in Mumbai," he continued,
"The norm is to be able to accumulate runs and be prepared to bat the whole day or as long as you can. As a batting unit, we spoke about that a lot and we managed to deliver in these last couple of games, and probably in the second innings in Ahmedabad."
The England captain was content to see the strategy had worked out.
"We thought of taking calculated risks, not complicate things and keeping the game very simple," explained Cook.
"We had a very basic game plan when we came here and it's worked for us so far," he continued, adding, "We have worked very hard on our game to be able to adapt to these conditions.
"And that hard work is paying dividends in terms of results."Considering the manner in which the English team upset the Indian applecart, against all odds and in not so helpful conditions, makes their wins at the Wankhede and the Eden Gardens memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Image: Kevin Pietersen celebrates on completing his half century in the third Test