Last week, Graeme Swann was a worried man. His daughter was unwell and he had to fly back home. A week later, Swann joined his side in Ahmedabad and scalped all the four wickets to fall on the first day. When he dismissed Virender Sehwag, his second wicket, the 33-year-old surpassed Jim Laker as England’s most successful off-spinner.
"It is a proud moment. I am not a stats man but when people told me I was near Laker, I was genuinely excited. 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," said Swann, playing his 47th Test for England.
Laker, famous for his match haul of 19 wickets for 90 (Old Trafford in 1956) donned the England cap between 1948 and 1959. He played 46 Tests and bagged 193 wickets.
The hosts had an explosive start, reaching three figures as early as the 20th over until Swann put the brakes. "Undoubtedly, they (India) won the first session, but the second and third were fairly contested," he said. If not for a couple of missed chances, Swann would have had an even greater presence on the opening day.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior missed a regulation stumping off Swann (Gambhir was the beneficiary). The England finger-spinner, however, shattered the openers’ timber with one that kept disconcertingly low.
Later, Virat Kohli got a life when he was dropped at slip by Jonathan Trott. Although both Gambhir and Kohli failed to cash in, Swann was far from content. "It’s frustrating when catches are dropped. We would have loved to have couple of more wickets at the end of the day," Swann said.