Sachin is not my bunny: Anderson
James Anderson was rewarded for his highly-skilled swing bowling with three wickets yesterday, including the prize scalp of Sachin Tendulkar, for the eighth time
Anderson was the lynchpin of a disciplined and resourceful England attack which thoroughly earned an advantageous position as India closed day one of the third Test on 273 for seven at Eden Gardens.
Tendulkar (76) and Gautam Gambhir (60) ensured the hosts remain competitive, but neither could convert from 50 to 100.
Anderson and Steven Finn got through 41 overs between them, statistical evidence of the fact pace as well as spin is an important weapon in this match.
Specifically, reverse-swing was the method which served Anderson best — although he bowled effectively when the ball was new as well as old.
He acknowledged afterwards that some of the tricks of his trade were learned from India’s Zaheer Khan, another example of England playing their hosts at their own game here — as they did in Mumbai last week, where their spinners outbowled the opposition.
Anderson (three for 68) also reflected, modestly, on his happy habit of dismissing Tendulkar.
Murali for company
He shares the distinction, of seeing off the Little Master eight times, with the great Muttiah Muralitharan — but wisely did not go along with a mischievous suggestion that Tendulkar is his ‘bunny’. “I wouldn't say that,” he said. “It’s a nice thing to have, and I’ll probably think more about it in years to come when I’ve retired and tell everyone that has happened.”
More important to Anderson and England, in the thick of a series level at 1-1 with two to play, was that Tendulkar was beginning to look especially dangerous just before he was out.
“It was a crucial wicket for us, and I was delighted to get him out because it looked like he was set,” said Anderson.
“He looked a bit scratchy early on but I was really pleased to get him out when I did.
“He’s such a class player that, when he gets in like that, he can go on and get a big hundred.”
Gambhir explained the difficulty of facing a bowler who is adept at reverse-swing and hiding the ball in his run-up and delivery from the batsman, so there are no clues from which is the shiny side. It is then all about reaction rather than prediction for the batsman, and Anderson learned from Zaheer how he could get that edge.
“It might have been the last tour here, when Zaheer did it a lot, and that’s when I started practising it.” he said.
“It’s proved to be a good skill — because when batsmen are good enough to see which is the shiny side and know which way it’s going, it’s a lot easier for them.
“So when you hide it, obviously it makes it more difficult.
“Once we got it reversing, it makes my job a lot easier to try to attack and get wickets out here, so I just enjoyed it as much as I could.
“We’ve had hints of it reversing in the last two games, but nothing like it did today.
“On the pitches we get out here, reverse is crucial for seam bowlers — because it keeps you in the game.
“This pitch is perfect for it, very abrasive.”
Anderson expects the reverse effect to continue all game, and Gambhir is confident Zaheer and Ishant Sharma will provide a stern test for England's batsmen too.
“It reversed big, so if we can put 350 on the board it's going to be a good contest,” said the India opener.
Zak is a master of reverse swing
“Zaheer Khan is a master of reverse swing, so if he gets going it will be very difficult for England.”
Anderson already appears to have put the tourists ahead of the game, though, and ought to have power to add both tomorrow and in the second innings, when Tendulkar will be in his sights again.
“I don’t think I’ve got a (particular) way of getting him out, or bowl better at him than anyone else,” he said.
“It’s just one of those things that I've happened to get him out eight times.”
It is a decidedly handy knack nonetheless, and one England must hope he does not lose just yet.