Why so serious?

SP

For a while it looked like a drill sergeant was laying down the law to his beleaguered cadets. Andy Flower was in no mood to mince any words. And surrounding him stood the entire English contingent-all 30 of them, including players and support staff-none speaking a word, and all in rapt attention. With his team having made a disappointing start to the tour following an elaborate warm-up campaign, coach Flower for one seemed intent on getting his ship back in order.

Too many of the English batsmen came out to bat with a sense of prejudice against spin and with far too many theories floating around in their heads in Ahmedabad. As they look to get a foothold into the series at the Wankhede Stadium, the time might have come for England to lose the stiff upper-lip and loosen up a little. A time to let their instincts take over rather than be bogged down by convention and preconceived notions.

Speaking of batting with an uncluttered mind, the visitors need to look no further than a man who will be playing his 100th Test match in Mumbai for inspiration. A man who has built an incredibly successful portfolio by sticking to his inherent ability of playing the ball, never mind match-situations or conditions.

The Viruvian Approach

And Virender Sehwag showed them the way again during the first Test during his thrill-a-minute century that handed India the early momentum. There were balls that went past ankle height even on the first morning at Motera. The pitch wasn't conducive for stroke-play. There wasn't enough pace in it. But that didn't alter Sehwag's scheme in any way. Deliveries heading straight were blocked out with a dead bat, while those with any width were slashed away nonchalantly for boundaries.

The likes of Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell, on the other hand, walked out with predetermined ideas on how to negate India's spin threat. They ended up showing their cards too soon. And came a cropper. In most conditions, Pietersen can be equally as destructive and ingenious as Sehwag. But at Motera, he seemed too caught up in battling against the demons in his head with regards to left-arm spin rather than what Ojha was dishing out to him.

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