Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 15, 2022

England vs India Second ODI, Final Over of the Day

Ball One – No hit for Rohit, at least not yet

So many of the old orthodoxies of cricket are being challenged or ditched as aggression and confidence trumps conditions and situations. So, in just about the most perfect batting weather one could imagine in England, it wasn’t so much of a surprise to see Rohit Sharma have a bowl and prey on England’s memories of The Oval debacle just a couple of days ago.

Pitches seldom play as they look and Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah instantly located the right length to extract the half bat’s width movement required to beat both the attacking and defensive blades of Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy. But 50 overs is plenty of time to catch up with the kind of run-a-ball scoring rate England targeted under Eoin Morgan and will, inevitably, continue to aim at under Jos Buttler. That’s betting without being 26-5, as England were on Tuesday.

Ball Two – Root and Roy, just being themselves

Joe Root might be this decade’s VVS Laxman, a batsman of unsurpassed grace and style who expresses his gifts largely through orthodox stroke play. Though I doubt that VVS ever essayed a reverse scoop, but England’s greatest batsman is at least 80% textbook in an age when 50% adherence is enough to be labelled old school.

Will anyone ever bat again with so high an elbow, so considered a stride with the front foot, such assured defence? And yet, just three dot balls are enough to see him attempt to manufacture runs, not quite embrace the blitzing of a Pant or Buttler, but certainly stepping outside his preferred MO.

Isn’t it enough for Root to be Root? It is enough for Roy to be Roy when he hits it down the throat of deep backward square having got in, so why not 50 off 65 for Root with a view to making 100 off 100?  Of course, the anxiety comes from the spectre of getting out for 23 off 33 – which is, coincidentally, exactly what Roy did.

Ball Three – I saw him standing there – or maybe not?

Liam Livingstone falls for 33, England’s fifth batsman to get out between 11 and 38 – nothing scores.

He’s also the second batsman, after Jason Roy, to be caught by a fielder who was not required to move. You’ll hear (if you’re really unlucky) the likes of Kevin Pietersen exulting that players are brave, that they don’t worry about men on the boundaries, that they back themselves to hit maximums. But Lord’s is using most of its expanse (to its credit) and maybe batsmen should have a mental image of the field – at least as much as they do of their scoring areas.

Kapil Dev ran 30 yards towards the grandstand to catch Viv Richards in 1983 – you just have to accept that as a batsman. But hitting it straight down the fielder’s throat – not good enough.

Ball Four – Flighty England can’t make fifty

India didn’t need to do too much to take England’s ten wickets, simply be there when the errors came – and come they did. No England batsman made 50 and only Moeen Ali and David Willey were able to register a half-century stand (62 for the seventh wicket). Had we not seen something worse in the first match, it’s an innings that would be attracting more opprobrium.

Though the pitch has more life (and definitely more pace) than appeared the case at the toss, a target of 247 feels at least 50 short of par. England might bowl very well as the sun drops in the sky and still lose with 10 overs in hand. India big favourites at the halfway mark.

Ball Five – Pitch rich in possibilities

Cricket seldom does as it is told – have a look at the absurd Winviz for any number of examples -and, at the halfway mark in the chase, India are 91-5. Who knew?

The pitch, instead of going quietly to sleep, has, like an unruly toddler too full of sugar, continued to be as lively as it was almost 75 overs ago. There’s zip for the pacers and a little grip for the spinners, but nothing really unplayable. Indeed, it pretty much defines that old cliché, a good cricket wicket.

Ball Six – Topley on top

So what to make of that? If I was castigating England above for a lack of 50s, India could not muster a 30 – on, it needs to be stressed, a blameless track.

England did bowl well, employing the short ball only as a shock tactic, largely taking the horizontal bat options away from India. Reece Topley will make the headlines with scarcely believable figures of 6-24, but all England’s seamers bowled with discipline and threat and both spinners chipped in with a wicket.

The series goes to a decider at Old Trafford on Sunday which will create a bit of tension in and of itself, but, after three one-sided T20Is and two one-sided ODIs, the crowd will be looking for a tighter match – rather like one or two in the staid old county championship today!


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