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by Sunil Gavaskar

India’s facile win over England in Mumbai showed why this team has come a long way. England had scored 400 runs after batting first on a pitch where the ball hardly turned and came on to the bat at a good bounce. Mumbai has invariably produced pitches where the ball comes on quite nicely and batsmen can play through the line and whack it around. Last year the South Africans smashed the Indian attack for over 400 runs in a one-day match with three batsmen scoring hundreds. The Mumbai pitch gets better for batting on days two and three when it settles down after a bit of help to the new ball bowlers on day one. England thus would actually have benefitted if they had fielded first for their new ball bowlers would have extracted more out of the pitch than Umesh Yadav or Bhuvaneshwar Kumar did. It is understandable of course that the fear of the Indian spinners meant that England were never going to risk batting fourth on the Wankhede pitch.


England could still have given India a hard time if only they had taken their catches. Adil Rashid who is a fine bowler but not so good a fielder has now dropped Indian skipper Virat Kohli twice off not difficult chances and Kohli got big hundreds on both occasions to rub salt into Rashid’s wounds. His double century knock was one of the closest to batting perfections that one can hope to see. From the very first ball that he faced till he got out to a slightly tired shot in search of quick runs for a declaration Kohli hardly put a foot wrong. The one time he did Rashid grassed him and that was the last chance England had of containing the Indian skipper. Earlier Vijay had scored a classy ton and then Jayant Yadav batted splendidly to get his first hundred in Test cricket.


With a huge lead Ravichandran Ashwin spun a web around the English batsmen to end up with another 6 wicket haul to go with his six wickets in the first innings. In the process he beat Laxman Sivaramakrishnan’s record  of 12 wickets standing at the very same Wankhede stadium since 1984.  Since 5 wickets in an innings is akin to a century Ashwin can say that he has got a century in each innings. He and skipper Virat Kohli who hit his highest score of 235 are the CEAT International Cricketers of the Week.