• India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 3rd day

India still believe England can be denied

ESPNcricinfo staff
November 25, 2012
File photo: Monty Panesar took five wickets but opener Gautam Gambhir remained unbeaten for India (ESPN is not carrying images from the series due to restrictions on the media) © Getty Images

Gautam Gambhir was drawing inspiration from his debut Test even as India stared at defeat against England in Mumbai. Eight years ago, at the same ground, Gambhir saw three India spinners run through Australia's batting to defend 106 in the fourth innings. That after India had fallen behind by 99 runs in the first innings.

Gambhir knows, though, that it took crazy innings from VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar to revive India in the second innings. Gambhir is unbeaten on a high-quality 53, but with seven wickets gone and India just 33 ahead, he knows he will have to at least double his own score to give India any chance.

"We have three wickets in hand," Gambhir said at the end of the third day's play. "We have to be positive. If Bhajji and I can put on a partnership tomorrow, and if we can get 100-120 ahead, the game is on. If we can be 110 for 7, there is no reason why we don't have a chance to bowl them out. Important thing is, we give the bowlers runs.

"We can't give them 50 runs and expect them to win us the game. We need decent runs on the board. If we have one good partnership, anything is possible. Even in my debut Test, here, we bowled Australia out for 70-80 [93] in the fourth innings. Anything is possible. It's a matter of getting runs on the board."

However, even if Gambhir and the rest put on a target of 120 or above for England, their bowlers will need a huge improvement on their effort in the first innings. Gambhir said the spinners didn't bowl badly, despite a 206-run partnership between Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, but they didn't bowl at the right pace on this pitch. "I personally felt that they bowled a little quicker in the air," Gambhir said. "If you have bite in the wicket, and if you bowl quicker in the air, some balls spin, some balls keep straight.

"I felt that at times we tried to bowl too fast, and at times we tried to bowl too slow. It's important to know what speed you need to bowl on wickets that have turn and bounce. Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann bowled at the ideal speed, which troubled us. We were getting turn and bounce as well, but I think it was just the speed that made the difference today."

That, though, didn't mean the England spinners bowled better, Gambhir said. "I didn't say their spinners bowled better than us," he said. "I just said they bowled at the right speed. It's not that our spinners didn't bowl well. If you take out that partnership, none of their batsmen contributed in a big way. That showed our spinners bowled pretty well as well. Important on this wicket is to bowl at the right speed. Maybe they got the idea of bowling at the right speed. That is what Swann and Panesar did."

Gambhir was confident that if he somehow managed to give India a fighting lead, the spinners would show they have learned their lesson. "We won't come here tomorrow for just the formality," Gambhir said. "Miracles have happened before. Things can change quickly. Anything is possible if we put runs on board."

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