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Jonathan Agnew column

By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in India

Monty Panesar
Panesar simply does not seem to be improving and because he can neither bat nor field, must be facing a challenge in the near future from Adil Rashid

Jonathan Agnew

India's remarkable and historic victory will have dealt England a devastating and dispiriting blow.

To take only four wickets on the final day on a pitch offering the spinners enough assistance to be awkward was simply not good enough, and the fact that Sachin Tendulkar claimed his 41st century was one of his best merely underlines how difficult the conditions were.

Monty Panesar has been attracting criticism for a lack of variety and nous since last winter's tour of Sri Lanka when, in favourable conditions, he failed to make an impression.

A year on, and nothing has changed - virtually every ball delivered at the same speed and the same trajectory despite the fact that he was barely beating the bat.

There was no attempt to find a pace that enabled the ball to bite and jump - as Graeme Swann did - and figures of 0-105 from 27 overs were no more than he deserved. Panesar simply does not seem to be improving and because he can neither bat nor field, must be facing a challenge in the near future from Adil Rashid.

Swann, in his first Test, caused far greater problems taking two wickets and of the bowlers only he and Andrew Flintoff - who was as lion-hearted as ever - can hold their heads high.

I am glad that Virender Sehwag was named man of the match. It might seem strange years from now to see that a batsman who made one score of 83 in the game won the prize ahead of Andrew Strauss (two centuries) Tendulkar (103 not out) and Yuvraj Singh (85 not out).

But it was his blistering assault on the fourth afternoon that set up the possibility for India to win on Monday, and another concern for England is that both he and Yuvraj appear to have the sign over James Anderson and Steve Harmison.

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One of those two should make way in Mohali for Stuart Broad who is fit again and, despite his tender years, is always up for a contest, no matter how difficult the situation, and there will also be calls for Owais Shah to replace Ian Bell.

The fact remains that, a fortnight ago, no one really thought this Test match would take place.

India's cricketers seemed unsure of how to approach the game on the opening day as the country still mourns the loss of life in the Mumbai tragedy, and the significance of the match stretched well beyond cricket.

What a game we had, despite the stifling security, and in many ways it produced the perfect outcome with Tendulkar, a Mumbaiker, hitting the winning runs.

The full inquest into England's bowling performance can wait for another day.



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see also
England crushed by Tendulkar ton
15 Dec 08 |  England
Tendulkar offers Mumbai tribute
15 Dec 08 |  Cricket
India v England photos
15 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
13 Dec 08 |  England
Swann on song as England prosper
12 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
12 Dec 08 |  England
Swann revels in dream Test debut
12 Dec 08 |  England
India v England day two photos
12 Dec 08 |  England
England opt for Swann and Prior
10 Dec 08 |  England
The making of Monty
10 Dec 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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