England spin legend Underwood backs Panesar to ‘change course of India series’

London: England’s most successful spin bowler on Indian soil Derek Underwood has backed left-arm spinner Monty Panesar to play a crucial role in the remaining matches of their current Test series against India.

Underwood believes the twin threat of Panesar and Graeme Swann could turn the series against India, starting with the second Test, which begins in Mumbai on Friday.

Now, with Panesar likely to return for his first Test in eight months, Underwood is backing the Sussex player to take the pressure off Swann and pile it on to India’s batsmen.

“You should be looking to play the bowler who is most likely to bowl a side out. I think Monty is the best-qualified spinner that we have, other than Swanny of course,” the Independent quoted Underwood, as saying.

“I don’t think they would have got 500 if Monty had been bowling at the other end and given England 20 or 30 overs. If he’s bowling at the other end to Swanny then Monty would benefit considerably,” he added.

“Bowlers work in pairs and that’s particularly true of spin bowlers. When Swann bowls on his own he has the seam bowlers at the other end and he misses out. When you’ve got two spinners bowling in tandem the volume of overs goes up and they can devise their own plans. When you’re bowling on a wicket like that [in Ahmedabad] that can make a huge difference,” he said.

Underwood added: “Bowling in India is as tough as it gets for a slow bowler. The Indian batsmen are superb players of spin, mainly because it’s something they’re so familiar with. Monty has the variations to make life tougher for them though and Swann showed in Ahmedabad that he is at least the equal of India’s spinners.”