Arguably the best spinner at the moment in the world, had a torrid time in last 3 matches of the series, been hidden by the brilliance of English seamers now relishes his chances with 2 days to go in the final and fourth test match of the series.
Graeme Swann had only little to do with Indian line-up for the past 6 occasions when England bowled out India in each of the 6 times. Before this match, Swann took just 4 wickets conceding over 4 runs an over in all the three pitches that offered so much assistance for seam bowlers but still his name never came under scanner like his counterpart Harbhajan who got heavily criticized for his lackluster show in his first 2 matches of the series.
It’s been that kind of series for England, where their opponent yet to either score 300 runs nor batted for even 100 overs in an innings out of 6 innings from three test matches played so far. In all the innings, it was Anderson, Broad, Tremlett (in 1st test) and Bresnan (2nd and 3rd test) who shared the success in dismissing India each time. Swann hardly had any long spells or forced to take wickets in this series except in the 1st innings of 2nd test where Indians negotiated English seamers well for the only time but it doesn’t lasted for too long as Broad run through them including a hattrick in the first spell with second new ball. With bulk of work done by his seam bowling team mates, Swann had to wait for his kind of pitch and it dually arrived in the 4th and final test at Kia Oval, London.
After a trend setting batting by English top order, Struass declared with a session to go in the third day’s play. With foot marks to bowl on both sides of the wicket and pitch is wearing each day past, Swann expected to get turn and bounce this time. Even with English seamers taking 2 early wickets, Swann was given a ball to bowl which is just 14 overs old. It was a great tactical move by Struass because in slow and low tracks, spinners with hard ball will get more bounce. Ganguly is the father of this tactics as he had great success by giving hard new ball to Kumble and Harbhajan, he even had spinners bowl 1st over with new ball. Swann doesn’t disappointed Struass as he removed Sachin who looked to be just settling down with Dravid for big innings in his third over. As the day neared end, Swann had Suresh Raina stumped and Ishant Sharma caught of his bowling as India ended the day with five wickets down. This time, Swann took 3 of the 5 Indian wickets and looks set for more with pitch set to deteriorate.
You can’t say it’s because of pitch, Swann took 3 wickets. In the same wicket, India’s spinner Amit Mishra went for plenty with no wickets. Yes, pitch had something for spinners but it was slow. Swann employed better tactics for which pitch responded, as he bowled fast (around 90kmph at most times) and flat to stop Indian batsmen coming down the track.
Swann bowled superbly but still he is not unplayable. If Indian’s don’t attack, he will attack them. It’s simple as that.