Former England spinner Graeme Swann said he was not happy with the way England handled left-arm spinner Jack Leach in the second session on Day 1 of the rescheduled 5th Test against India in Birmingham. Swann questioned the field settings for Leach against Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja as the two Indian batters led the Indian fightback with an unbeaten 76-run stand at Tea.
India were reeling at 98 for 5 after losing Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer in quick succession after the Lunch break but Pant and Jadeja steadied the ship. The two batters were under pressure as it was overcast in the early afternoon in Birmingham but they were able to score freely once left-arm spinner Jack Leach.
England took a gamble by bringing on left-arm spinner Jack Leach into the attack in the 29th over right after Kohli fell. Leach was brought on to lure Pant and Jadeja into making a mistake but the two left-handers mixed caution with aggression and kept the scoreboard moving.
England bought back Leach in the 37th over after a mini burst of Broad and Anderson in tandem. A well-set Pant, who was batting on 25, took the attack to the left-arm spinner, smashing a six and 2 boundaries, bringing back memories of the onslaught against Leach in the home Tests of 2021.
“Well, it was a gamble. That’s proved to be the point. if you’re bowling spin, Jack Leach has come off a 10-wicket match against New Zealand at Headingly on a very different pitch where the ball was turning. This one isn’t,” Swann told Sony Sports on Friday, July 1.
“I don’t mind bringing the spinner if it’s a right-hander. Leave your mid-on and mid-off up because the angle might take it away and you might mishit it. But Rishabh Pant, if it’s not turning, he is going to hit through the line. There is no spin as such, you’re actually making it easier to relieve the pressure.
“The new way is we are not going to put a deep fielder, I don’t think that works. I am more of a fan of having your mid-on float, having him three-quarters back. Say ‘if you do want to come down, you have to hit me against the spin. You have to hit over mid-off’. But they didn’t do that. What I believe that has done is just free up Jadeja and Pant to sore quite freely in that session and get India right back into the session.
“If there’s a shot that the batter likes, you cut that shot off. When they did get mid-on back, the two batters were more circumspect,” he added.
Pant got to his 10th Test fifty in just 51 balls as he was once again the rescue man for India in an overseas Test. Despite having gone through a lean patch in white-ball cricket, Pant’s Test form has been going north with the star wicketkeeper-batter playing some stunning counter-attacking knocks in whites.
Pant is the leading run-getter for India in Tests in the ongoing calendar year having scored close to 500* (and counting) in just 5 Tests.