Anderson inspired by Zak

Thus far, talks about the Test series between India and England have been dominated by terms like rank turners and spin.

But a remarkable spell by James Anderson at the Eden Gardens changed all that on Wednesday, with the focus shifting to pace and reverse swing.

Anderson, who had dismissed Virat Kohli in the middle session, rattled Indians with twin strikes in the post-tea session, dismissing Sachin Tendulkar and R Ashwin. More than the dismissals, the way Anderson exploited the conditions was vastly impressive.

Till now a second fiddle to Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, the Lancashire pacer came into his own in conditions suited his style of bowling. The 22-yard strip at the Eden was abrasive and there was enough nip in the air throughout the day, perfect foils for someone like Anderson.

“This pitch is perfect for reverse swing. It’s very abrasive. It hasn’t happened in the last two games. I imagine it will keep on swinging pretty much the whole game. I suppose the early start helped,” Anderson said.

Anderson had pretty modest tour of India in 2008, bowling well only in patches and struggling to make an impact. But since then the pacer has grown in leaps and bounds to be among the leading practitioners of swing bowling.

The Englishman showed how crafty he has become on the day, hiding the shiny side of the ball from batsmen and making it tough for them to predict which way the ball was going to swing.

He has a word of thanks for Zaheer Khan for it. “During our last visit… I remember Zaheer doing it a lot. That’s when I started practicing it. It’s a good skill to hide the shine of the ball.
“You need to be clever to use the skill. You also need a good speed, around 135-140 kmph to reverse the ball. Otherwise it becomes ineffective,” he said.

Kohli and Tendulkar were victims of the deliveries that shaped away from them, while Ashwin fell to one that came in just enough to rattle the timber. It was the eighth time Anderson  had dismissed Tendulkar in 13 Tests, joining Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, who has also dismissed the Mumbaikar eight times, but in 19 Tests.  

Gambhir had a torrid time against Anderson, often struggling to judge the path of the ball and ending up at poking at deliveries that moved away from him or chopping deliveries that swung back.

The Delhi left-hander explained the toughness of facing someone as crafty as Anderson. “It was reversing and he was hiding the shine. It really gets difficult when someone hides the ball as you're not able to see the shine of the ball and don't know which way it would go. Ultimately, you have to play the ball late,” Gambhir said.

But there were few words of caution for his English counterparts. “We have got Zaheer and Ishant who can reverse the ball really well. If they are on song, it's going to be difficult for England as well. Zaheer is a master of reverse swing,” Gambhir noted.
So, prepare for an exciting battle between pacers in the coming days. It will be a refreshing sight.

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