Hussain: We probably lost the game on the first day
Anand Vasu - 06 December 2001
It is extremely difficult for any team to stomach a loss in the first of a three-Test series. Coming back from that position is extremely difficult, and Nasser Hussain realised that after India beat England by 10 wickets shortly after tea on the fourth day of the first Test at Mohali. Rattled by the spin bowling of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble, the visitors now have a lot of hard work to do to even stay in the game in the forthcoming Tests
The wicket at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali gave England their best chance of winning a Test match on this tour. Ahmedabad and Bangalore, where next the two Tests take place, will serve up wickets that assist the spinners even more quickly than at Mohali. A disappointed yet philosophical Hussain met the press after England's loss. Excerpts:
On what really went wrong:
I think we probably lost the game on the first day. That and the missed chances. When myself and (Graham) Thorpe were in, with the score at 200/3, to collapse to 238 all out in India, batting first, is like shooting yourself in the foot. On top of that, we missed all those chances. On performance, or at least the possibility of performance, I think things should have been much closer. If we had put more runs on the board, and with India batting last, you never know what will happen.
On playing spinners in India:
There was a lot of bounce in the wicket. I know spinners prefer a bit of bounce rather than slow turn, especially Kumble and Harbhajan, and I must say that (Richard) Dawson was helped by the bounce as well. People talk about the inexperience in the bowling, but we also have inexperience of batting in these conditions. Apart from myself, Thorpe and (Marcus) Trescothick, who went away last year, the others have not played in these conditions at all. We are re-training the brain really. We have not seen anyone like Kumble and Harbhajan on this tour so far. The boys are having to learn and learn quickly.
On the performance of the English bowlers:
You cannot give any of these batsmen second chances, (Sachin) Tendulkar, (Rahul) Dravid, (Sourav) Ganguly or (VVS) Laxman. They will all make you pay on Indian wickets. I will say, though, on a positive note, that the discipline of the bowlers in carrying out the plans that I had for them bodes well. The discipline and attitude that an inexperienced bowling attack showed to keep the scoring rate down to two-and-a-half an over was pleasing. If we had taken our chances and bowled India out for 350, it would have been a good effort on this wicket.
On how Dawson and (James) Foster fared in their first Test:
I am sure Foster will admit that he has had a very poor game, but I think he has shown a bit of character as well. Let us not compare him to someone who has played a hundred Tests, let us compare him to other people who are playing their first Test. I know how I felt before, during, and after my first Test. It is at times like this when you need people to support him, not tell him how bad a Test he has had. Take Richard Dawson; he has shown very good attitude. He is a fast learner, and when someone tells him something, he puts it into practice very quickly. But let us not get giddy about him just yet. Just as we should not get too low about young Foster's keeping, we should not get too excited about Dawson's success.
On the psychological pressure of playing spinners in India:
They are fine bowlers, especially in India. We cannot hide behind that. We are not the first side to play two spinners bowling in tandem in India. That is the norm over here. We are just going to have to get used to it. It is both a mental and a technical thing. There are certain areas where you can score off them and others where you simply cannot. We have to get that into the brain as quickly as possible.
On the wicket at Mohali:
It was a very good cricket wicket. It had pace, bounce and was good for batting. I am not fussed if the wickets turn, to be honest. If they do that, it brings our spinners into the game too. We cannot blame the wicket in any way at all for our performance.
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