India, Nov. 20 -- It was a perfect Test for India and just goes to show how strong they are at home. When you win the toss in these conditions, it is such an advantage to the side batting first and it showed in the results. The moment India got to 500 it was a one-way traffic. England had to bat out of their skins to save the Test.
A good first innings is so important in these conditions and once the visitors were dismissed cheaply, they were always fighting with their backs to the wall.
When we sat at tea time on Day Three in the commentary box, there were quite a few who were trying to organise a fourth-day return back home.
Till Cook played an innings, which was as good as any that I have seen. He is just a ton away from joining a lot of big names in becoming the highest century-getter in Test cricket for England. And, mind you, he is only 27 years old.
Cook is already a stalwart and has the ability to become an all-time great in English cricket. When all English batsmen, other than Prior, struggled against spin, his technique was impeccable.
What surprised me was the way KP batted. He is one of the best players in the world and one could see him losing the battle in the mind against left-arm spinners. His success in this series will be very important for England and he will have to find a way out.
Despite all the negatives, the way England batted on a wearing pitch on Day Three, Four and Five, will give them a lot of confidence going into the Mumbai Test.
If they win the toss and bat first - and bat well - they could make an impact in the series. They will be without Bell in Mumbai, and hence contribution from the middle-order and seniors, like Trott and KP, will be important.
They will also need to look at the composition of the side. England have accepted the mistake of not playing Panesar and need to rectify it in Mumbai.
The Indians will be happy with Sehwag's form. Once he strikes form, it means hard times for the rival bowlers.
I was delighted with Ojha's performance. I have always believed that he is a good wicket bowler because of his pace and variation. He will be an asset to Indian cricket even in overseas conditions.
For me, the standout player was the young Pujara. There is a marked improvement in his game than what I saw against New Zealand.
He is an old-fashioned batsman and when he used his feet to step out and hit the spinners along the ground, it was an absolute delight.
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The writer is former India captain
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.