Five Tests in India in which spinners of visiting teams turned the tables on the hosts
Monty Panesar led England to a series-levelling win against India in the second Test at Mumbai © PTI

 

On a track tailor made for the Indian spinners, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann spun England to a surprise win. Arunabha Sengupta recounts five other instances in the last thirty years when spinners from foreign lands performed similar heists on wickets prepared for home-grown tweakers. It was a rank turner made to order for the Indian team, catering to the much popularised demands of MS Dhoni.

 

And suddenly, in a grand heist, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann spun a web to trap the Indian plans even as they unfolded, and tweaked the result, turning the match on its head.

 

Strangely, this is not the first time spinners from lands far away have trundled in and exploited tracks tailor-made for the Indian tweakers.

 

Below are five Tests when such heists were pulled off by visiting spinners in the last 30 years:

 

Five Tests in India in which spinners of visiting teams turned the tables on the hosts
Phil Edmonds (left) and Pat Pocock © Getty Images

 

1. Phil Edmonds & Pat Pocock – England at Delhi, 1984

 

Laxman Sivaramakrishnan had picked up 12 wickets in the previous Test match at Bombay and spun India to an eight wicket victory. With Shivlal Yadav and Ravi Shastri combining with the young leggie to form a formidable spin trio, the Kotla pitch turned from early days.

 

However, only Siva was impressive in the first innings, and England built up a sizeable first innings lead. When the Indians batted the second time to play out time, Norman Cowans sent back the Manoj Prabhakar and Dilip Vengsarkar on the fourth evening.

 

On a helpful fifth day track, Phil Edmonds and Pat Pocock chipped away at the wickets and Sandeep Patil and Kapil Dev fell to infamous hoicks which cost them their places in the following Test. Eight wickets were equally shared by the two experienced tweakers. Set a target of just 125 with enough time remaining, England won by eight wickets. The English spin duo accounted for 13 wickets in the Test.

 

Five Tests in India in which spinners of visiting teams turned the tables on the hosts
John Bracewell © Getty Images

 

2. John Bracewell – New Zealand at Bombay, 1988

 

It was skipper Dilip Vengsarkar’s 100th Test, and it turned out to be a nightmare. The last few blades of grass were removed from the wicket by curator Sudhir Naik at the behest of the captain. With Arshad Ayub, Narendra Hirwani and Ravi Shastri in the side, India looked forward to spinning the Kiwi batsmen out as they had done so comprehensively in the first Test at Bangalore.

 

However, the slow dusty track did not deter Richard Hadlee from picking up six first innings wickets. The sides proceeded neck and neck till the fourth afternoon, and some dogged batting by John Bracewell and Ian Smith in the second innings left India a challenging 282 to win.

 

Bracewell, a low key off-spinner with a bowling average of 35 in 31 Tests before the match, was introduced at 48 for one. Navjot Sidhu jumped out to the first ball, aiming for the stands, missed and had his stumps rattled. Bracewell soon had a tentative Vengsarkar bowled for a duck, and accounted for Mohammad Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri as well. And when Kapil Dev’s fierce drive was brilliantly caught by a tumbling John Wright, it was as good as over. Bracewell walked away with six for 51 as India managed just 145.

 

3. Nicky Boje – South Africa at Bangalore, 2000

 

Five Tests in India in which spinners of visiting teams turned the tables on the hosts
Nicky Boje © Getty Images

 

India did not have the firepower to match Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Nantie Hayward with pace. However, with Anil Kumble, Murali Karthik and Nikhil Chopra in the side, they banked on a slow turner. However, the Protean fast men were brilliant and negated the advantage that the home team gained from the favourable toss of the coin. Nicky Boje produced a miserly spell of two for 10 off 15 overs.

 

Boje followed it up with 85 as night watchman as Gary Kirsten, Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener applied themselves to build a 321-run lead. Kumble did capture six, but they came at quite a cost. And when India batted again, Boje completed a fantastic match by picking up the first three wickets of Rahul Dravid, Wasim Jaffer and Sourav Ganguly. Mohammad Azharuddin completed a patient century in what would be his last Test innings, but Boje’s five for 85 did enough to ensure an innings win for South Africa.

 

4. Danish Kaneria, Shahid Afridi and Arshad Khan – Pakistan at Bangalore, 2005

 

Kumble’s seven second innings wickets had clinched a superb win at the Eden Gardens in the second Test and India were 1-0 up going into the final Test. With Harbhajan Singh also bowling well enough, the hosts seemed distinctly stronger in the spin department and the Bangalore track was a turner. However, on the fifth day, the two home spinners found themselves bat in hand, fighting hard stave off a defeat by playing out the final overs.

 

Helped by Younis Khan (267 and 84 not out) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (184 and 31 not out), Pakistan had set a target of 383. India started strongly enough but, at 87, the double-centurion in the first innings, Virender Sehwag, was run out.

 

Five Tests in India in which spinners of visiting teams turned the tables on the hosts
Shahid Afridi and Danish Kaneria © Getty Images

 

The less than threatening spinners Arshad Khan (2-21) and Shahid Afridi, then ran through the Indian batting line-up. A charged up Afridi, in 17 overs that cost just 13 runs, dismissed VVS Laxman for five, Ganguly for two and Sachin Tendulkar for 16. Kumble fought hard to remain unbeaten with 37, but Danish Kaneria, till then wicketless in the second innings after taking five in the first innings, picked up Harbhajan and Lakshmipathy Balaji to engineer a 168-run win. The spin trio scalped 14 wickets in the Test which Pakistan won by 168 runs.

 

Five Tests in India in which spinners of visiting teams turned the tables on the hosts
Shaun Udal © Getty Images

 

5. Shaun Udal – England at Mumbai, 2006

 

For most of the match it had been a story of application by the English batsmen and exemplary line and length by the medium-pacers. England built on a lead of 121 with extreme caution, and on the fourth day, Kumble and Harbhajan found enough bite to restrict the second innings of the visitors to 191.

 

The Indians were 75 for three at lunch on the fifth day. One of the wickets was that of night-watchman Kumble, and with Tendulkar and Dravid at the crease, the situation looked under control. Monty Panesar had looked less than threatening.

 

However, after lunch, in a 15 over tale of mayhem – “collective lapse of reasoning” according to Dravid – India floundered to 100 all out. Shaun Udal, an off-spinner with three wickets at 92.33 in his three previous Tests, accounted for four batsmen for 14 runs off 9.2 overs. The mass suicide of the Indian batsmen was highlighted by MS Dhoni, who skied Udal to mid-on to see Panesar drop the most benign of sitters. Three balls later, he repeated exactly the same stroke sending the ball in the same vertical trajectory and this time the Sikh left-arm spinner held on. England won by 212 runs.

 

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)