Another England spin freeze

Quite often, a predictable chain of events unfold once a top-order England batsman gets duped by a reputed spinner from the sub-continent. As the vanquished drags his feet out of the ground, panic runs amok in the English dressing room.

The collective mind freeze results in a batting collapse. And it all ends with the spinner finishing with record breaking figures, for efforts that aren't really his best-ever.

One could nearly see it all coming at the R Premdasa Stadium on Sunday, when off-spinner Harbhajan Singh got his first wicket. With 14 Tests, 86 ODIs, 27 T20s behind him, plus the experience of playing for two IPL franchises, Eoin Morgan happens to be England's best bet against the spinners on slow and low tracks. He was to be the guide for the young batting line-up, but Morgan seemed to be lost himself.

The first ball of Harbhajan's spell saw Morgan misjudge the flight. The next one, bowled round the wicket by Harbhajan, saw the left-hander confusing the arm-ball for the conventional off-spinner's turn. From being in line to give the short ball a good thwack, Morgan ended up making a desperate but futile attempted defence. If not tame, it sure was an ugly dismissal.

'If Morgan can't, how can we tackle this spinner?', was possibly the question that bothered those who had their pads on. England have Graham Gooch and Andy Flower, old hands at countering wily spinner, on the tour party but words of wisdom don't register when pressure takes over.

In such moments of utter spin-scare, the English usually premeditate and invariably dig themselves in deeper holes. And they were at it again. They swept to the fuller, spinning ball and danced down the track to deliveries that dipped and stayed low. Result: A humiliating defeat. If it was Morgan who tipped the domino-set here, it was the dismissal of Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott by mystery spinners Rangana Herath and Saeed Ajmal respectively that saw England lose four Tests in the sub-continent this year. For England, the voice of reason is always drowned by the drumming rattle of Asia's spin demons.

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