India 1-0 England: Same old story from England

England have lost the first of four Test matches in India meaning they are up against it if they are to achieve a series win. What did we learn from the first Test?

Few cricket fans would have been surprised to see India rack up a massive score of 521-8 in their first innings before putting England under spades of pressure. The first piece of misfortune for England came with losing the toss with a flat wicket calling out for batsmen to play on. The wickets throughout this series are unlikely to change, they are all bound to be flat, dusty and slow.

England need to re-think their team selection because it just didn’t work in this Test match. They decided to go with three seamers; James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan in conditions that were ideal for spin bowling. It’s no coincidence that India took eight out of the first ten England wickets using spinners. This has to change and fingers crossed England will learn this lesson quickly and go into the second Test at the end of this week with two front line spinners in the team.

On the batting front we didn’t learn too much that we didn’t already know. England were bowled out for 191 in their first innings with the only resistance coming from captain Alastair Cook with 41 and Matt Prior with 48. The same two players dominated in the England second innings which was far better with Cook scoring 176 and Prior making 91 in a total of 406.

It is slightly worrying for England fans that only these two players seemed to learn how to play the Indian spinners and the pitch differently in the second innings from the first. Cook looks like he is going to break every England batting record which has ever been set and worryingly India will now be thinking that if they can get Cook out early, they have a great chance of stopping England from making any score over two hundred.

England have not played spin well for a long time; they were emphatically beaten 4-0 in the UAE by Pakistan last winter. However, the difference on this occasion as opposed to that tour is that key players in the side adjusted quickly and can take that forward into the next game onto a wicket that is going to be very similar. The England batting line up simply has to perform because the bowlers are always going to be under pressure if the batsmen keep getting out for nothing.

The bowlers selected for the first Test in Ahmedabad were the wrong players to go into the game with. England were thinking back to the Test series in England when they thrashed India with seam bowlers thriving in English conditions. This is a completely different situation. Asking seamers to bowl 60 overs in a day in the next Test will produce another massive Indian total and will probably mean another England defeat.

To summarise, the batsmen need to learn from the way Cook and Prior played and the selectors need to drop any stubbornness and get Monty Panesar into the team as the second spinner.

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