Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 13, 2018

England vs India Second Test Day Four

One of India’s better spells in the match

Batting was difficult under leaden skies when England resumed, the lead 250. Quite what the batsmen, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, swingers both, made of it, I don’t know, but surely they would have preferred to have ball in hand. Quick runs were the only justification for Joe Root’s delaying of the declaration and Curran was first into T20 mode, jumping around in the crease to smear Mohammed Shami through the covers and then slog the inevitable short retort into the Tavern Stand. Smart cricket from a very smart cricketer.

He perished from the first ball bowled by Hardik Pandya, caught by Shami at Third Man for 40 – exactly how a Number 8 should go when the lead is 289. Woakes walked in to examine the red ink showing his score – 137 – with every right to be as pleased as Punch with his work. No doubt his bowling fingers were twitching too, as the clouds lowered and lowered.

It took Jimmy Anderson eight deliveries to pick up his 100th wicket at Lord’s, bringing one back down the slope to take the inside edge of Murali Vijay’s bat. India were, for the second time in three days, 0-1 with the captain indisposed by a bad back – to say nothing of a bad side – and things looked grim.

Anderson was bowling beautifully, but he hardly needed to in snaring KL Rahul, who had learned exactly nothing from his colleagues’ capitulation in the first dig, playing round his front pad to a straight ball, hit dead in front. Pathetic.

Vice-captain, rather than captain, emerged as the rain loomed larger and larger. Ajinkya Rahane had big shoes to fill and as tough an assignment as the game offers.

He had plenty of time to consider the task at hand over an extended lunch, the product of light rain. The players were back on at 2pm and Woakes bounced in, the puppyish mien still clinging to his 29 year old frame. It was his match, as his Man of the Match award would attest.

Stuart Broad sent Rahane back, the right-hander stretching to get an edge to a ball that flew to third slip where Keaton Jennings took a sharp catch. Rahane had done the hard work in getting to 13, so why he felt the need to play at so wide a delivery was another mystery to add to a few in this match.

With his captain fighting and in real pain, Che Pujara was working very hard to preserve his wicket – a rare instance of a tourist not called Kohli putting a high price on his name. Broad, running in with that rhythm that always portends trouble at the other end, found the kind of late in-duck that Waqar Younis would find on the southern side of the Thames, and cleaned up Pujara with a ball that was pretty much unplayable. The returning Number 3 had batted 87 balls for his 17 – a decent effort in which he could take some pride.

Kohli was doing all he could to blank out the pain from his back and from the scoreboard, but Broad had that glint in his eye, charging in and up at around 90mph. A blur of glove, bat and thigh pad sent the ball to Ollie Pope, diving forward at short leg. Out said Aleem Dar! Review said Virat Kohli! Out said the shallow spike that could only be contact between ball and glove and India’s last hope walked, stiff-backed, back to the massage table, a valiant opponent vanquished.

Dinesh Karthik’s first ball was a horrible inswinger that rapped him on the pad and Dar was in the game again and right again on review, the umpire rivalling Broad in skill and application. Ravichandran Ashwin survived the hat-trick ball and the umpires sent the players away, as bad light and rain combined to offer some respite to the beleaguered visitors. 66-6 – the Indians in a devil of a spot.

Broad had 4-16, and the satisfaction of silencing the critics who were murmuring about rotating him out at Trent Bridge – no chance of that now. The match turned bitty – both batsmen rapped on the hands and needing treatment (although why that needs to be administered on the field instead of in the dressing rooms, is always lost on me).

Pandya and Ashwin played a few shots and, inevitably, some of the intensity went from the English bowling. The scoreboard advanced to three figures and, though the show of competitive pride from the all-rounders was appreciated, nobody was mistaking them for VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, 2001 versions. Pandya has talent though, revealing it with a beautiful drive back past Broad, all the way to the pavilion. What a different game it is when the full face of the bat is presented to the ball!

But he couldn’t resist a crooked shot to Woakes’s first ball of a new spell and was hit high, but stuck on the crease, and such deliveries are often shown to be going on to hit. So it proved – Pandya’s enterprising knock terminated on 26, India 116-7 with just the bowlers to come.

Kuldeep Yadav was stitched up like a kipper by Anderson, pulled across the crease before a grenade burst through the gate, bowled, the second pair for India after Vijay’s double demise. Shami was given out second ball, caught down the legside off an Anderson bouncer, but it looked “wrong” to the naked eye and the “no spiking” snicko reprieved the opening bowler.

Not that it mattered, Shami almost swinging himself off his feet in missing a straight one, LBW, another duck, another for Anderson.

Fittingly, it was Woakes who closed out the match, Ishant Sharma middling a leg glance, but directing it to Pope who had spirited himself in to leg slip for exactly that shot. India were all out for 130, with Ashwin left high and dry on 33, a finger-bashing knock that said much about his professionalism in a side that looked a little short of heart as well as skills in such difficult conditions.

England, the team that needed no luck, got all that was going, from the moment Root called the toss correctly. That said, Anderson (9-43) and Broad (5-81) drew upon the experience that put nearly 1000 Test wickets against their names, to blow away the pride of Indian batting and Woakes (4-43) and Curran (1-53) were not not far behind the two champions. Adil Rashid, who possibly needs to pay his subs, was not required to bat or bowl.

While India will reflect on a heavy defeat (there’s no sugarcoating an innings and 159 runs), they can take some solace from reducing England to 89-4, the match tilting a little on its second afternoon. Cue Bairstow and Woakes, whose stand of 189 took the India win out of the equation. Woakes’s 137 not out proved the centrepiece of the match, but Bairstow’s 93 was a crucial momentum shifter.

India’s captain is a tough and honest man and he refused to blame conditions for the hammering. With injuries, not least his own, and too many players hideously out of form, he will demand changes for Trent Bridge on Saturday. One feels that India need a good weekend in Nottingham, because if they get behind in the game, 2-0 down and with only one batsman in form, the series could disappear very quickly indeed. For England, the only question might concern the possible return of Ben Stokes, but if his services are not available, he’ll hardly be missed.

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Responses

  1. “66-6 – the Indians in a devil of a spot.”

    Almost Shakespearean, Gary, in your weakness for a pun. Lovely stuff, ta.

  2. How depressing. A one-sided affair which bodes ill for the rest of the series.

  3. I said on here after the first Test that the standard of batting made it less than a great game. Sadly, India were only warming up; this is one of the most inept touring teams we’ve seen in a while, and a whitewash is definitely on. Mind you, the England top order is no great shakes, either, but they have real ability from 5 to 8, whereas India, with the possible exception of the skipper, are pretty much just dire. And if Kohli’s injury is serious, they’ll do well to last more than 3 full days’ play in any of the remaining Tests. It’s very disappointing.

    • I fear that you’re right.

      • The real shame is that I think we were all looking forward to this series as a great ad for Test cricket.


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