We didn't attack the stumps initially, says Graeme Swann

On what could be an exciting, 'spin-filled' Test match, Graeme Swann has already ruffled Indian feathers but at the same time Indian spinners will be licking their fingers too.

Updated: November 15, 2012 20:49 IST
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When you take all the wickets to fall in the day, you're unlikely to be a disappointed man, even if the opposition managed to put in excess of 300 on the board on what could turn out to be a tricky pitch for batting.

Graeme Swann, fresh from a whistlestop trip back home to be with Charlotte, his unwell three-week-old daughter, was the only thing that kept England in the first Test match.

"Flying home last week, I was a bit concerned that I would not have good rhythm but happily for me I was bowling well beforehand. In the week in Mumbai I was bowling well in the nets, and it's always a relief when the ball is coming out as you want it to," said Swann, who returned 4 for 85.

"You do enjoy days like this. I've had so many when I've bowled 25-30 overs and felt hard done by because I've walked off with no wickets. I'll always take wickets as an enjoyable part of my job."

At lunch, India were 120 for no loss, and England desperately needed to change things around. "At lunch time we sat down and came up with a new game plan. I don't think we bowled straight enough in the first session," said Swann. "On a pitch that is low and slow you have to attack the stumps a bit more. I think we did that as the game went on and that's why we got a couple of wickets and pulled the run-rate back."

The pitch, which was the centre of attention in the lead-up to the match, came in for praise from Swann, although he did admit that England did not expect it to be so low and slow.

"If you look at the footage going through the day very few balls have turned. Towards the end there was a bit of turn, but I don't think that necessarily makes a bad Test wicket," said Swann. "It's very, very flat for the seamers. You could argue that it's a good Test pitch. I will say that because I've got four wickets. I think our batsmen will look at the footage and realise that it's still a good pitch."

For different reasons, Swann enjoyed two wickets, that of Sachin Tendulkar, caught in the deep, and Virat Kohli, bowled. "It is special to get Sachin. Just the noise that erupted in the ground when he walked out to bat, before he even comes out to the middle you know who it is. It's always nice to get him out, and get him out early. Let's face it, he's the greatest player still playing the game," said Swann, while conceding that there was an element of luck involved in the sharply-spun offbreak that did Kohli in.

"I was fortunate that the ball was changed after the quarter seam exploded on the soft ball. The replacement was a touch harder. No ball spun for three or four overs and then one just hit a pebble and turned square. It's always my favourite way to get a batsman out, bowled through the gate, especially a player as good as Kohli."

In the course of picking up four wickets, Swann went past Jim Laker to become the highest wicket-taker among English offspinners. "It is a proud moment. I always say I'm not a stats man but when people told me I was near Jim Laker I was genuinely excited," admitted Swann. "When you're growing up these are the famous names of the game, you don't even dream of emulating them, let alone going past them."

At the end of the day, though, there was no arguing with the position India were in. At 323 for three, with Cheteshwar Pujara and Yuvraj Singh at the crease, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni still to come, India will fancy their chances of pressing on.

"They are in a very strong position. The first session they undoubtedly won. Arguably the other two were even. Having lost the toss and bowling first on that pitch we'd have liked five or six wickets but we'll take four," said Swann. "If we had five or six it would have been an exceptional day for us and would have knocked 60 runs off the total.

"You have to hand it to Viru (Sehwag) the way he played at the start. We know he can be destructive, he's done it against us before. I've been reading in the paper that he hasn't got a century for a couple of years and he's been questioned by the local press … Good on him for banishing those doubters."

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