Southampton: Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar would be mistaken to believe he has left the frustrating experience of facing spinner Ashley Giles firmly behind in India as more of it is coming in the four-Test series against England starting next week.
"We are in the business to entertain but we are also out there to win. Bowling over the wicket you do cut down your options. People say it's a negative strategy, but it can be used to attack," Giles said in an interview. Giles, who repeatedly bowled down the leg side to Tendulkar denying him the chance to play orthodox strokes during the Test series played in India earlier this year, said the ploy was successful to some extent as it slowed down the little master. "I did it to slow him down. He still scored heavily but not as quickly," Giles confessed.
The tactics came in for a lot of criticism from cricket writers and was even compared to Bodyline Series of the 1930s when England captain Douglas Jardine asked fast bowler Harold Larwood to aim at Australian batsmen's ribs and chest, rather than the stumps, in a bid to curb the genius of late Sir Donald Bradman. More than 70 per cent of Giles' deliveries to Tendulkar in India were pitched outside leg stump and it was extremely controversial in the final Test at Bangalore when only two of Giles' 204 balls in the first innings were bowled from around the wicket. "Bowling over the wicket you do cut down your options by not being able to get him (Tendulkar) out leg before or bowled and people say it is more of a negative option," Giles said. "There are men around the bat to catch him.
Obviously, you are trying to wear him down, stop him from scoring and wait for him to make a mistake." The frustration appeared to get the better of Tendulkar at least in the final Test when he was stumped for the first time in his career by wicket-keeper James Foster. Tendulkar took no less than 198 balls to reach to his 90 in that innings as England worked out in precision the methods to curb the genius of the little man - asking Giles to persist with his run-denying methods and setting the rule for its medium- pacers to pitch way beyond the off-stump and keep a packed offside field. The star batsman though couldn't be curbed entirely and he still scored 307 runs from four Test innings, taking his career aggregate against England to 1282 runs from 13 Tests with five centuries at a high average of 80.13 per innings.
"The left-arm spinners bowl over the wicket when there is no turn in the main part of the pitch so you can pitch it in the rough," Giles explained. With Tendulkar's patience driven up the wall, India struggled to post imposing totals in the series and England wore it down to the extent it came close to losing the Bangalore Test and squandering its 1-0 lead. England captain Nasser Hussain used this to get back at his critics and said it was important for him as a captain to see his side do well rather than seek the approval of experts.
"If I get criticised for restricting the opposition to 200-plus totals, I would take it any day," Hussain had declared defiantly on his tactics in India. Now Giles is ready to back his theory again even though he is not closing his options of employing more conventional methods against Tendulkar and the rest of the Indian batsmen. But the lanky left arm spinner believes Tendulkar exacted his revenge at Chester-le- Street in a day-night NatWest triangular series match against England earlier this month. Tendulkar, in that masterly innings of 105, had stepped outside the line of his stumps to give himself room and hit Giles repeatedly over extra cover or coming inside and heaving him to the mid-wicket boundary.
Giles has no doubt Tendulkar's aggression was his way of getting even against him and exorcise the memory of that final Test in Bangalore. "I'm sure he got a little bit of criticism and developed some self doubts when I bowled into the rough in India," said Giles. Giles got his revenge back quickly enough when he clean bowled Tendulkar in the final of the NatWest series at Lord's last week as the maestro once again made room for a slash on the off-side only to see his stumps in disarray.