Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 1, 2011

England vs India Second Test Day Three – The Final Over of the Day

India midway through Day Three

Ball One 11.30am – In conditions that offer bowlers encouragement (and that thought alone can put demons in a batman’s mind) positive footwork is crucial. Trent Bridge is not an Ahmedabad road, made for batsmen happy to throw hands through the ball, playing on line alone; nor is it a Perth, enabling the batsmen to hang on the back foot and cut and pull anything that isn’t a half-volley. Bell and Strauss have been on their games right from the off, with feet moving to the ball and the bat coming through with conviction. With Dhoni on the lookout for early wickets, runs have come quickly – the reward for matching a positive attitude with positive play.

Ball Two 11.55am – There aren’t many good ways to get out, but there are some good scores (see Dravid yesterday for both a good way to get out and a good score). Offering a limp bat to a wide one and feathering it through to the keeper for 16 is about as bad as bad gets on either criterion. Such was Andrew Strauss’ fate today – something that will do nothing to stop whispers about his palce in the side developing into chatter. England are unlikely to beat the World’s best team carrying an opener all summer long, so the captain will need to find form very soon.

Ball Three 12.05pm – Harbhajan is not having a good match. Having only got 4.4 overs in England’s first innings, then the trigger from umpire Erasmus as the middle man in Broad’s hat-trick, he finds himself behind Yuvraj when Dhoni whistled up some spin. Perhaps India’s always shrewd captain is playing a little game though, as Harbhajan has not looked in the best of nick so far in this series and a little denting of pride may well wake him up. He is a streaky bowler, so Dhoni will be looking for the couple of wickets that can swiftly become five.

Ball Four 1.00pm – There are many ways is assess which team has the momentum as a Test progresses (as opposed to the balance of power, which is a combination of the score and the forecast conditions). The four markers that I look for are: (i) discipline in the field; (ii) extras conceded; (iii) over rates; (iv) bowlers’ adherence to plans. In the morning session, India’s fielding has been serviceable and they have not conceded an undue number of extras, but the good news of MS Dhoni stops there. The over rate has been sluggish (especially with spinners having spells and Praveen Kumar jogging in a few paces), allowing England to set the tempo for this crucial day and the bowling has been too often on both sides of the wicket and short. Back-to-back Tests are tough on bowlers physically, but they’re tough on every player mentally. India will see the game going away from them unless they up their concentration and seize the initiative.

Ball Five 2.25pm – Though the lead (112) is 100 short of the minimum England want and 200 short of that which would give them a reasonable sense of security, such has been the tenor of the day’s play that India have the appearance of a team, if not quite defeated, then ceratainly hanging on. Of course, they’re short of their best bowler and today is much the best batting day of the three so far, but good cricket is about making things happen through skill, wit or bluff – who is going to provide that for MS Dhoni in the second half of the day?

Ball Six 2.50pm – It’s at times like this (when the wheels are coming off) that MS Dhoni needs a man to take responsibility and lead the bowling unit. During India’s ascent to the Number One spot, Zaheer Khan has been that leader, swinging the new ball with pace and accuracy and returning to reverse the old ball with  variations and skill. Without him, the innocuous Praveen Kumar, youthful Ishant Sharma, mercurial Sreesanth, out of sorts Harbhajan and the change bowlers look a little lost on a flattened out pitch. For all the stellar power of India’s batting greats, the left-arm over man is the key to the final two Tests of this absorbing series. (And the moment I pressed the publish button, Sreesanth – much the best of India’s attack – gets the breakthrough, inducing KP to chase a wide one).

Gary Naylor, whom you can tweet at @garynaylor999 and find at Cricket On Fivespincricket.com and Testmatchsofa.com

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Responses

  1. Yesterday I said India were ahead but no longer. They are in deep trouble. Their best cricket today was during the tea break.

  2. Easily the most tired, and under prepared Indian team I have seen in many years. I remember a test match in Colombo where Sanath & Co scored some thing like 900+ against India.

    Apart from the BCCI’s inane scheduling plans, and the lack of match practice for players like Sachin, Zaheer etc, I think Dhoni’s captaincy looks tired too. I expected him to use a 7-2 field and choke the runs for a while yesterday (like he did against Australia at Nagpur last year), and induce the batsmen into becoming impatient. Instead, he went all out aggressive :( The lack of deep Third man alone costed India some 20 odd easy boundaries.

    I think for the Indian team, the heart is still willing, but there is just no gas in the tank. Ishant and Praveen have had too much work load in the past few tests and I won’t be surprised if one of them develops an injury by the end of this tour.

    England have been ruthless, and have become much more interesting to watch (than any other test team) in the last 1-2 years. They have it in them to be the best team on all non-Asian test grounds. And as India has shown, it is possible to be average away and excellent at home, and still be more consistent than other test nations, and thereby become the No.1 ranked test team.It would be difficult to dislodge them from their perch (they are likely to get there by the end of the third test) for some time.

    For India, I am happy for all the good times they have given us fans over the past few years starting from the World T20 win in 2007. They have still not lost this series yet, but I reckon their tired bodies and lack of self-belief (No Sehwag or Zaheer, Sachin’s not firing, and Dhoni going by Fletcher than his instincts and being a flop as a batsman) means they have stopped enjoying their game. Except for Dravid, VVS, and the three seamers.

    Re: Bell’s run out – I thought he was trying to bluff that he misunderstood.He himself called it a ‘naive’ thing to do later. I was disappointed by the crowd booing Indian players and the umpires though. But I just couldn’t understand Strauss and Flower requesting Dhoni to reconsider.It was a school boyish mistake and Bell should have paid for it. Also, it was not for Dhoni to decide whether Bell was out or should he have been recalled. The umpires decided it and that should have been it. Now Dhoni is getting all the credit for grace/spirit of cricket etc. I think the spirt of cricket is to fight a fair battle, and accept the mistakes. Not one side requesting an overturning of a decision, and the other captain getting bullied by the crowd’s boos.

    But it all be worth it, if this incident improves the general atmosphere in which cricket is being played in this series.

  3. Kumar, disagreement leads to better discussions but I agree with everything you said about the Bell dismissal. Personally I would not have withdrawn the appeal, you don’t get a free pass for being empty-headed, but it’s probably for the best that it was withdrawn.
    Such a shame to see India folding like that. They’re making England look better than they are.
    The sub-standard bowling attack seems to have impacted the batting, sucking the wind out of their sails.
    They have three top players due to return from injury for the next match, that should change things.

  4. Kumar – I agree with you on all points.

    Fred – This is a very strong cricket team with very good players in reserve too.

    • I never said they weren’t strong, but they’re not so good they can remove the head and shoulders of the Indian batting order for 50 odd runs. Nonetheless, that’s what they did today. There was an element of capitulation involved in that, for whatever reason. They’re not at their best, which is a shame as if they were there would be great competition.

  5. Yes – India were shot by the time they came out to bat. They’re under-prepared physically and mentally.

  6. I wouldn’t say that Praveen Kumar or Ishant Sharma are under-prepared. They just look exhausted.

    • They do look exhausted, possibly because they are under-prepared!


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