India’s ploy to prepare a spinning track backfired heavily as a spirited England inflicted a humiliating ten-wicket victory on the clueless hosts in the second cricket Test to level the four-match series 1-1 here today.

Resuming at a precarious 117 for seven after conceding a vital 86-run first innings lead, the Indians were skittled out for a paltry 141 within an hour’s play on the fourth morning, leaving the visitors an easy target of 57 for victory which they achieved without much fuss with more than five sessions to spare.

Only Gautam Gambhir (65) provided a semblance of resistance before being the last man to be dismissed though television replays indicated that he was distinctly unlucky to be ruled out.

Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar was the pick of the English bowlers with figures of 22-3-81-6 for a match haul of 11 wickets while Graeme Swann snapped up the remaining four wickets in a fine exhibition of spin bowling.

The two England openers Alastair Cook (18) and Nick Compton (30) overhauled the target in just 9.4 overs to complete the rout in a match which was dominated by the visitors in conditions which were tailor-made for the home team spinners.

The moment of triumph came through four byes off R Ashwin which triggered off scenes of jubilation in the England dressing room with the players hugging each other and celebrating a remarkable victory.

It was a pathetic display by the Indians who were thoroughly outplayed in their own den. While the spinners were a complete let-down on a track which suited them, the famed batting line up also left much to be desired failing to counter the spin threat of Panesar and Swann.

England, on the other hand, showed remarkable character and resilience to bounce back and square the series 1-1 after suffering a nine-wicket drubbing in the first Test in Ahmedabad. The turn-around was largely possible due to Kevin Pietersen and Cook’s centuries in the first innings and the brilliant bowling efforts of Panesar and Swann.

The two teams will now travel to Kolkata for the third Test which begins from December 5.

India, who were tottering at 117 for 7 last evening against the double spin attack of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, lost their remaining wickets this morning in 11.1 overs and 43 minutes.

With Gautam Gambhir the only top order batsman left to carry on the fight to the rival camp, India stared defeat in the face last evening itself and any hopes of a late turnaround was belied.

Gambhir was last out, declared leg before, off an inside edge for a defiant 65, but with the top batsmen collapsing like nine pins against Panesar and Swann last evening after India batted for the second time in the game, there was little hope of escaping defeat.

It was India’s seventh Test defeat in 23 games, as compared to nine wins, against all comers at this venue, and their third in 7 games against England and second on the trot.

The hosts had previously suffered reverses against their English rivals in 1980 and 2006 — the last time the two met at this ground. Overall, it was India’s 39th defeat, and twelfth at home, in 105 Tests.

Graeme Swann got the initial wicket in his first over itself, after an expensive opening over by Panesar, by dismissing overnight not out batsman Harbhajan Singh.

Singh, who struck a lofted four off Panesar, checked his cut shot to a ball that turned and bounced from the off spinner and offered a tame catch to slip fielder Jonathan Trott to depart for 6 after facing 5 balls.

Panesar, who was hit for two fours in his first over, got rid off Zaheer Khan (1) when his sweep shot ballooned up off the top edge for wicket keeper Matt Prior to run a few yards and take it near the square leg position and India had slumped to 131 for 9 in the fifth over of the morning.

Gambhir, with only last man Pragyan Ojha for company, farmed the strike to help the team add 11 more runs before he was last out, leg before to Swann while defending as he was rapped on the back pad.

Replays suggested the left handed opener got an inside edge on to the pad, and Gambhir was understandably not happy with umpire Tony Hill’s decision.

Gambhir, who missed becoming only the fourth Indian opener to carry his bat through after Sunil Gavaskar (1983), Virender Sehwag (2008) and Rahul Dravid (2011), showed the only sign of defiance from the home team in the second innings while his other team-mates flopped.

The Delhi left hander, not out on 53 last evening, batted for over three hours, and struck six fours in 142 balls before becoming Swann’s fourth victim of the innings.

Panesar, who ended the innings with brilliant figures of 6 for 81, thus equalled the late Hedley Verity’s record (for a spin bowler) haul of 11-153, in 1933-34 at Chennai, on Indian soil.

The left arm bowler’s match figures read a superb 11 for 210 while Swann’s read 8 for 113 as the two bowlers, with little support from the seam bowlers, brought about the famed Indian batting line-up’s downfall on a track where the ball turned viciously and bounced alarmingly.

Panesar’s 11 victims included the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar in both the innings, in what could be the veteran batsman’s farewell Test on his home ground.

For India, Cheteshwar Pujara, who made a splendid 135 in the first innings following his 206 not out in Ahmedabad, was the stand-out batsman while left-arm Ojha was the most successful bowler with his first innings haul of 5 for 143.

Gambhir struck form after a long lean patch in the second innings fiasco to delay the inevitable but all other batsmen flopped on a spinning track, which was desired by skipper Mehendra Singh Dhoni after the hard-earned win at Ahmedabad on a low and slow wicket.

Virender Sehwag, in his 100th Test, could get only 30 and 9, after his run-a-ball 117 in the series opener, while Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh floundered on both the occasions.

In bowling, the biggest disappointment was Ravichandran Ashwin who could not stick to a consistent line and struggled to be penetrative despite bowling 42 overs in the first innings for 2 wickets conceding 145 runs.

Harbhajan Singh, in his comeback 99th Test, was also a pale shadow of the bowler he once was, indicated by his haul of 406 wickets prior to this game.

(This article was published on November 26, 2012)
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