Swann, Panesar record the best performance by foreign spinners on Indian soil in years

Monty Panesar (left) and Graeme Swann have emerged as the victors and made India bite the dust in their own backyard  (Photo credit: James Anderson via Twitter)

It has taken England 28 long years to plant their flag again on Indian soil. On previous tours, they have fought hard and given India a few nervous moments, but couldn’t maintain the intensity to go the distance. This time around, Alastair Cook’s men left no stone unturned and capitalised on every opportunity after their defeat in the first Test at Ahmedabad. While Cook has been at the forefront with his three centuries, the English spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann too were equally pivotal to the victory.
The inclusion of Panesar changed the make-up of the bowling attack and gave it more teeth. At Ahmedabad, Swann seemed to be the only one who was troubling the Indian batsmen. In hindsight, one thought that England made the mistake of playing three seamers and the lone spinner. Once Panesar entered the scene at Mumbai, things took a drastic turn as he immediately castled the Indian batsmen and recorded an eleven wicket haul.
Panesar maintained the same discipline at Kolkata and struck at crucial intervals to restrict India. Swann has been consistent throughout the series and used the conditions well. He has been troubling the Indian batsmen since the first Test at Ahmedabad and has purchased good turn on the surfaces. In tandem, the two spinners wreaked havoc and it would certainly rank amongst the best on Indian soil.
Here is a list of foreign spinners who have taken over 28 wickets on Indian soil.

Spinners M Wkts Avg Timeline in India
Derek Underwood 16 54 26.51 1972-1982
Riche Benaud 8 52 18.38 1956-1960
Muttiah Muralitharan 11 40 45.45 1994-2009
Lance Gibbs 9 39 23.38 1958-1975
Shane Warne 9 34 43.11 1998-2004
Danish Kaneria 6 31 39.58 2005-2007
Daniel Vettori 8 31 44.77 1999-2010
Iqbal Qasim 10 29 33.86 1979-1987
Ashley Mallett 5 28 19.1 1969-1969
Monty Panesar 8 28 38.25 2006-2012
Graeme Swann 6 28 28.96 2008-2012

This list shows that the modern day spinners have struggled to make a mark on Indian soil. Even the likes of Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan weren’t as effective in India as the Indian batsmen tackled them well. When compared to their averages, Panesar and Swann have better numbers. An important point is that this is Panesar’s third tour to India and he didn’t have much success on the previous two sojourns. On this tour, he has been successful and has improved on his figures.
Swann and Panesar average the best amongst the modern day spinners in this table. Derek Underwood, Richie Benuad and the rest – men who in recent boast of phenomenal averages – are spinners from yesteryear. What it tells us is that in recent times, the Indian batsmen have been absolutely brilliant against the spinners at home. Even though the conditions favour spinners, Warne, Muralitharan and the rest couldn’t produce the same results in India due to the superior ability of the Indian batsmen.
Such facts and figures do reflect the enormity of the task that was before Swann and Panesar prior to the start of the series. It shows the kind of efforts they have made on this tour to win Tests for England. If one was asked to pick the leading spinner at the start of the Test series, one might have chosen a Ravichandran Ashwin or a Pragyan Ojha. However, Panesar and Swann have emerged as the victors and made India bite the dust in their own backyard.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)