This article titled “India beat England by an innings: fourth Test, day three – live!” was written by Rob Smyth (now) and Tanya Aldred (earlier), for theguardian.com on Saturday 6th March 2021 10.23 UTC
INDIA WIN BY AN INNINGS AND 25 RUNS!
England made the mistake of winning the first Test, and by heaven India punished them for their effrontery. They have slaughtered England in three consecutive Tests, playing some exhilarating cricket in lively conditions. England weren’t good enough, though some of their players deserve great credit, particularly the extraordinary James Anderson. But this is all about the brilliance of India: the new spin twins of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel, who gave a month-long spin-bowling clinic; the class of Rohit Sharma; the naked talent of Rishabh Pant. They’re the best team in the world, and because of this result they have the chance to become the first winners of the World Test Championship.
WICKET! England 135 all out (Lawrence b Ashwin 50)
It’s all over! Lawrence misses, Ashwin hits, and India have won the series 3-1. Ashwin gets his five-for – and, most importantly, India will play New Zealand in the World Test Championship final.
WICKET! England 134-9 (Leach c Rahane b Ashwin 2)
Nine down, one to go. Leach edges Ashwin low towards slip, where Rahane takes another accomplished low catch. He knew he was out this time and casually tossed the ball away. The umpires went upstairs to check, and replays confirmed it was out.
53rd over: England 134-8 (Lawrence 50, Leach 2) Lawrence works Patel for a single to reach a fine fifty from 93 balls, an innings full of personality and composure. Well played.
53rd over: England 132-8 (Lawrence 49, Leach 1) A maiden from Ashwin. The ball before the review was another jaffa that roared past Leach’s outside edge.
Leach is not out He missed it by a mile, mainly because it turned prodigiously. That’s a great advert for DRS.
REVIEW! Leach given out caught behind It was an instant review from Leach, so maybe he didn’t hit it.
52nd over: England 132-8 (Lawrence 49, Leach 1) Washington Sundar replaces Axar Patel (23-6-46-5). Lawrence pushes a couple to move to 49 and then defends the rest of the over. Time for drinks.
“Aside from the wreckage of these last three Tests, can’t we agree that it’s not all total desolation?” says Guy Hornsby. “Lawrence has looked one of the few bright things this last week. He looks relatively unafraid, I hope he gets a run in the team. Leach has been pretty solid, in spite of some treatment. Root was a class act much of the time but really weighed down by so much responsibility. Stokes had looked better after being all at sea. Sibley also looked less shaky, with albeit bad luck. Jimmy was just, well Jimmy. You have to hope the likes of Pope, Crawley, and Burns just aren’t scarred by this too much. They should all be much better at home and in Oz. God, that felt odd, but we can’t just think we’re an appalling team overnight. Even New Zealand would struggle here.”
Even India would.
51st over: England 130-8 (Lawrence 47, Leach 1) Lawrence is batting normally, even though there are only two tailenders left. He waits for a poor ball from Ashwin and smashes it round the corner for four, and then keeps the strike with a single. He threw away a fifty in the first innings; this time he looks like equanimity personified.
50th over: England 125-8 (Lawrence 42, Leach 1) Lawrence shovels Patel off the pads for another single, then Leach inside-edges a hack past leg slip. The commentators are discussing what team India might pick for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand, specifically how on earth they are supposed to choose between Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja.
49th over: England 122-8 (Lawrence 40, Leach 0) England need another 38 to make Indi a bat again. More to the point, Ashwin needs two wickets for another five-for, and he beats Leach with a gorgeous dipping offbreak from around the wicket.
48th over: England 121-8 (Lawrence 40, Leach 0) Lawrence thumps a long hop from Patel for four, then lofts the next ball down the ground for another boundary. He’s batted extremely well in this Test. See, even the apocalyspe has a silver lining.
47th over: England 112-8 (Lawrence 31, Leach 0) On the plus side, Dan Lawrence has looked good.
“Who will be the Man of the Series?” wonders Madhu Balasubramon. “Root and Rohit had a few good knocks. Pant and Patel have announced themselves in no uncertain way. But my vote goes to Ashwin, who is still the highest wicket taker, and the fifth highest run getter in this series.”
I would give it to Patel, for the romance and because he got in England’s head even more than Ashwin.
46th over: England 111-8 (Lawrence 30, Leach 0) Axar Patel now has 27 wickets at 10.07. This is up there with the greatest debut series of all time: Alderman, Hogg, Doshi, Headley, Gavaskar, Pietersen, Cork.
“Morning Rob,” says Henry Lubienski. “I hope they don’t burn Lawrence by batting him at three. Bell, Root, even KP had a start batting a bit further down. Trott was only one to start at three. When Stokes comes back then he, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence & Sibley should be in the top six. What would speak against Stokes batting at three?”
I’m not totally sure about Stokes against the moving ball on a regular basis, and I think you’d be compromising a strength by doing that. The main strength of England’s batting is Root and Stokes; everyone else should fit around them. There’s no ideal solution, I agree with that.
WICKET! England 111-8 (Bess c Pant b Patel 0)
Another five-for for Axar Patel! Bess under-edges a slog sweep and is smartly taken by Rishabh Pant. Patel has taken four five-wickets hauls in his first three Tests.
45th over: England 111-7 (Lawrence 30, Bess 2) It should be a matter of time now. I still think three wins and three defeats represents a decent winter for England. The downside is that all the key performances have been from established players, so the team hasn’t really developed. That said, this is such a valuable education for the batsmen.
“I do think this series has made a good case for the value of Jos Buttler to this team,” says Phil Harrison. “Not only is he an increasingly reliable Test batter (he’d have launched at least one momentum-shifting counter-attack in the games he’s missed here) but I feel like Root captains better when Buttler’s alongside him. Hard to see a way for both him and Foakes to play but it would be nice.”
44th over: England 111-7 (Lawrence 30, Bess 2) Axar Patel is one wicket away from his fourth five-for. This is his third Test.
“Hi Rob,” says Darrien Bold. “I remember scoffing at suggestions a few months ago that Keaton Jennings would have “done a job” in the last two series as a decent player of spin, despite his modest record. Did England miss a trick there or is that a stretch? Did Pope’s excellence at short leg cost him a place in the squad?”
He might have done well in Sri Lanka, but I suspect India’s quicks would have sorted him out. I’m not sure about horses-for-courses batsmen, certainly not against a team with an attack as varied as India’s.
WICKET! England 109-7 (Foakes c Rahane b Patel 12)
Ben Foakes goes in unusual circumstances. He edged Patel towards slip, where Rahane grabbed the ball just above the ground and then signalled to the square-leg umpire that he wasn’t sure whether it carried. When the umpires went upstairs to check we assumed it would be not out, but replays showed Rahane got his fingers under the ball as he swooped to his left. That’s a terrific catch.
43rd over: England 109-6 (Lawrence 30, Foakes 12) England are six away from their first fifty partnership since the first innings of the series.
42nd over: England 108-6 (Lawrence 30, Foakes 12) And now Patel has changed ends to replace Washington. His second ball spits nastily to beat Lawrence, who is rattled and goes for a big drive off the next delivery. It takes the edge and flies wide of Kohli at slip. Then Lawrence is beaten again by a jaffa. A quite brilliant over from Patel, whose decision to change ends looks a good one.
41st over: England 106-6 (Lawrence 28, Foakes 12) Ashwin has changed ends to replace Patel. Virat Kohli has rotated his three spinners a lot either side of tea, impatient for a seventh wicket. Nothing doing in that over.
40th over: England 104-6 (Lawrence 27, Foakes 11) Now Ashwin is hooked after two wicketless overs, with Washington replacing him. Foakes drives a single to bring up the hundred, the first of five in the over. These two are batting really well.
39th over: England 99-6 (Lawrence 25, Foakes 8) “I’d probably go Burns (though I would demand he has a haircut), Sibley, Crawley, Root, Lawrence, Pope, Foakes, Woakes/Curran, Leach, Archer/Wood/Stone, Anderson/Broad,” says Jeff Ando. “Although arguably we’re a bowler light against the Kiwis with no Stokes.”
That’s a good point, though Root is a passable fifth bowler I guess. It’s not ideal, but that New Zealand series could become a shootout for four top-six places (1, 2, 3, 6) in the return series against India. You can make a case for dropping any of the others (even Crawley, who I really like, has had a miserable run of scores this winter), but I’d be inclined to cut the younger players in particular a bit of slack. They all need runs next summer though.
38th over: England 98-6 (Lawrence 24, Foakes 8) India are rattling through the overs in about the time it takes me to read and edit an email. A maiden from Ashwin to Lawrence. These two have played well, with plenty of pride and common sense.
“Rollocks, Bob,” says Guy Perry, though he didn’t really say rollocks, or Bob. “Power cut’s ended in Kerala. Now watching the collapse, sound off, and blasting out Quadrophenia. We’re crap at cricket but sublime in angry 70s rock. Take that, India.”
37th over: England 98-6 (Lawrence 24, Foakes 8) Foakes is defending with determination and expertise, and is the subject of fulsome praise from Sunil Gavaskar. He has 8 from 34 balls, Lawrence 24 from 38.
“Your closing comments on the 29th over regarding Ricky Ponting,” begins Matt Dony. “Feels like they should have started with ‘Listen, guys’, and been delivered while sitting backwards on a chair.”
And then… (NB: clip contains adult language)
36th over: England 97-6 (Lawrence 23, Foakes 8) Washington Sundar is pulled out of the attack after two wicketless overs, with Ravichandran Ashwin replacing him. It’s a quiet over, just a single from it.
“Agree with Andy Moore pre-tea,” says Phil Harrison. “One of the things I look forward to least after this kind of series is the agonised post-mortem when the defeat that literally everyone predicted would happen, has happened. Basically, England win a series in India about once every 25 years. And it’s roughly the same the other way around too. Let’s not do the hand-wringing thing this time eh?”
To be fair, nobody does it better.
35th over: England 96-6 (Lawrence 22, Foakes 8) Patel ends another good over by turning one past Foakes’ outside edge.
“Morning Rob!!” says Simon McMahon. “The game was up yesterday when Rishabh Pant smashed his way to a hundred. He bats in technicolour, England monochrome. All of which leads me to note that the Pantone colour(s) of the year for 2021 are ‘Illuminating’, a bright yellow, and ‘Ultimate Gray’, a not so bright gray. ‘A marriage of colour conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting’. Bit like cricket, really. And Buckfast.”
34th over: England 95-6 (Lawrence 21, Foakes 7) Washington Sundar continues after tea. Lawrence, forcing to leg off the back foot, gets a leading edge that lands safely on the off side.
“Interesting to hear you think Lawrence should bat at No3 and that Crawley is more of an opener but could still do a job at 3,” says Jeff Ando. “What would your top order be for the next Test in that case? Do you think Lawrence has the technique to go at first drop and who from Burns/Sibley misses out with this plan? Also, what do you make of the Pope situation and the creeping accusations that England are ‘hiding’/overprotecting him? Lots to ponder it seems!”
The problem for Pope is that Nos 4 and 5 are taken, so he can’t move up the order one place at a time. He’ll be fine though. Lawrence at No3 isn’t ideal but I’d like to get him in the team and have a proper look before the Ashes. Assuming Stokes and Buttler are unavailable because of the IPL, my top order would probably be Crawley, Sibley, Lawrence, Root, Malan, Pope, Foakes. It’s not ideal, as England have a lot of 4s and 5s, and I’ll have changed my mind by teatime. How about you?
33rd over: England 91-6 (Lawrence 19, Foakes 6) Ashwin has changed ends to replace Patel. Lawrence continues his purposeful innings with a crisp cover drive for two, and then survives a big appeal for LBW. Ashwin was bowling round the wicket, so the umpire presumably thought it pitched outside leg. India go for the review. This is really close.
In fact, it’s not close at all. It pitched on the stumps but turned too much and would have missed leg stump.
That was the last ball before tea. Here’s a precis of the session:
(85 runs, six wickets, 30 overs)
32nd over: England 88-6 (Lawrence 17, Foakes 5) Washington Sundar comes on for a quick bowl before tea, replacing Ashwin. He must be full of the joys after that sparkling 96 not out earlier in the day – and he almost gets a wicket with his sixth ball. Lawrence swipes a full ball towards long leg, where it goes through the hands of the swooping fielder. It was a really good effort from whoever it was.
“Hope there is some perspective after this,” says Andy Moore. “Winning away especially in long series is rightly incredibly tough. You need a hugely strong side and a lot of luck. In 2012 England had Cook, KP, Trott, Bell, Swann, Monty, Jimmy. It was unreasonable to expect this side to achieve anything more than they have. If anything we underappreciate just how good that Strauss/Flower side was.”
I’d say 3-1 is better than par for England in this series, but it’s easy to forget then when you’ve been hammered in three consecutive games.
31st over: England 83-6 (Lawrence 13, Foakes 4) Four of England’s first five partnerships in this series reached fifty. Since then: 72 partnerships, no half-centuries. They haven’t been good enough – Pulitzer please – but it has been desperately difficult. I don’t think any team in the world could have coped.
“I’d like to add to Pete Salmon’s list,” says Deepak Puri. “Growing up, I thought blowdarts and cat burglars would feature more heavily in my adult life than they actually have.”
I read that as blowhards, which probably says something about my mental state.
30th over: England 78-6 (Lawrence 11, Foakes 1) Lawrence flashes hard at Ashwin, slicing the ball over slip for four. He looks in positive mood, as he was in the first innings. Might as well get the job done today.
“Good morning Rob, good morning everyone,” writes Em. “Were it not for the fact I’ve things to do today I’d mourn England’s collapse with the stack of Cobra I’ve got in my shed… mind you, have England been on the beers last night because they’re playing with a hangover?”
They’ve clearly got a hangover, but I’m pretty sure it’s from the second Test (and the third) rather than industrial quantities of Anxiety Suppressor.
29th over: England 74-6 (Lawrence 7, Foakes 1) Foakes defends solidly against Patel, who hurries through another maiden. Foakes has had a slightly disappointing series with the bat, though he has defended better than most. Yes, yes, I know.
“Hi Rob,” says Giles Page. “This mauling/dismantling/implosion/sh*%storm over the last three tests is too painful to watch & listen to but strangely engrossing via OBO. I am right in hankering for a return of Sir AN Cook? Oh how we could do with at least one decent opener. Hameed had a reasonable Bob Willis Trophy & can play well in India, or has that man no possible return to Test cricket? Surely it is possible to find some decent openers. Crawley is a No3.”
I think Crawley is an opener, although he’s fine at No3 too. I don’t think it’s going to happen for Hameed, though I would be unspeakably happy to be proved wrong. I’d say he needs a really strong county season – averaging 50+ – before he should be considered again. On this tour, it’s been increasingly desperate but I would be loath to draw too many conclusions about the batsmen. I doubt they will ever play in tougher conditions again, especially if they are all dropped forever rofl. In my day, there was a talented 26-year-old batsman who had a desperate series in India, making 0, 6, 0, 0 and 11. Things turned out okay for Ricky Ponting.
28th over: England 74-6 (Lawrence 7, Foakes 1) “Someone on Twitter recently mentioned that they when they were a child they genuinely thought that quicksand and boa constrictors would be major issues when they grew up, and were relieved to find they weren’t,” says Pete Salmon. “I can’t stop thinking about that as I watch England bat.”
27th over: England 72-6 (Lawrence 6, Foakes 0) Lawrence rocks back to cut Patel decisively for four. I like the cut of this lad’s jib, and would play him at No3 in England’s next Test.
26th over: England 67-6 (Lawrence 1, Foakes 0) My gut feeling is that Root did inside-edge that delivery from Ashwin, but the evidence was inconclusive so there’s no way the third umpire could have overturned the decision.
“ROB, hello,” says Guy Perry. “I’m in Kerala thanking various deities for the power cut in my village which means I can’t watch the England collapse. Much ribbing will be suffered in the tea shops later. What can a young boy do?”
Drink high-class tea with dignity and a warm smile?
WICKET! England 65-6 (Root LBW b Ashwin 30)
He was caught on the back foot by Ashwin, plumb in front, but he must feel he got an inside edge as he pushed defensively across the line. I’m not sure he did.
ROOT IS OUT LBW – BUT HE REVIEWS IMMEDIATELY
25th over: England 65-5 (Root 30, Lawrence 0) Axar Patel, in his debut series, has 24 wickets at 10.66.
“Good morning!” says Anand. “Few days ago, you helped me by sharing my poll about two-day Tests. The results are in. It seems that complaining about the pitch on social media (a hybrid choice) seems to pip actual cricket! The times we live in!”
Lot of good people on Twitter.
WICKET! England 65-5 (Pope st Pant b Patel 15)
A brilliant stumping from Pant! Pope, unnerved by a jaffa the previous ball, came flying down the pitch and was beaten by a vicious delivery that turned and bounced. Pant, who was unsighted, took it near the top of the breastbone and reached forward to dislodge the bails.
24th over: England 64-4 (Root 29, Pope 15) A brutal delivery from Ashwin, bowling round the wicket to Pope, turns down the leg side for four byes. Pope then survives a muted LBW appeal after missing a reverse sweep and being hit on the arm. England are going down swinging.
23rd over: England 58-4 (Root 29, Pope 15) Pope, hurried by Patel, top-edges a sweep over the keeper’s head for three runs. I’ve just been looking at England’s batting averages for the whole winter: Root 72, Buttler 46, nobody else above 25.
22nd over: England 54-4 (Root 28, Pope 12) Pope charges Ashwin and drives him handsomely over wide long on for six. That was a lovely stroke, not least because it was against his nemesis. Pope is playing with the freedom of the damned, and later in the over is beaten trying a reverse sweep.
“All Simon Kirchin’s fault…” says Matt Dony by way of apology for what is about to follow. “Another Bad Day in the life of an England batsman. The fall-out will no doubt involve some Bang and Blame. Ultimately, Everybody Hurts. But, at least we’re all fairly used to this kind of situation. It’s not The End Of The World…”
21st over: England 48-4 (Root 28, Pope 6) The ball is doing all sorts for the spinners now, and Axar Patel has changed ends to replace Mohammed Siraj. Root does very well to drop a nasty delivery from Patel just short of slip, but there’s little he can do with a jaffa that drifts in and rips past the edge.
“You really do pick these special sessions, don’t you Rob,” says Guy Hornsby. “Welcome to the wake.”
Where’s the buckfast.
20th over: England 48-4 (Root 28, Pope 6) Ravichandran Ashwin comes on to replace Axar Patel. Ollie Pope takes a hairy single to mid-on, though he would have been home even with a direct hit; later in the over he flicks uppishly past the left leg of Gill at short leg. This time he was unable to knee it to Rishabh Pant.
“Morning Rob!” says Amitabh Mukherjee. “The morning continues to slide on and so do the tired English batters. At least this clears up any and all illusions the media seem to be harbouring, that it was not just the pitch in the past two games that was the game changer. But rather the better bowling/batting and proof that the best team always wins in a four-Test series. Spin is the new seam. Change of guard. This here right now really defines the series for me.”
I’m not sure anyone, certainly anyone with a used brain, said the pitches were the reason England lost, merely that they weren’t the greatest surfaces in the history of soil preparation.
Thanks Tanya, morning everyone! That’s right, an exclamation mark. Sod it, have two: morning everyone!!
19th over: England 46-4 (Root 27, Pope 5) Five from the over as Pope jabs at Siraj’s final ball to bring up drinks. Time to hand over to Rob Smyth who will wrap things up for the day. Thanks for all the messages, enjoy your weekend!
18th over: England 41-4 (Root 24, Pope 3) I take that back, Root is allowed to sweep – a sweet shot, of which he has full control, wristy, languid and four. Kohli fields a ball, at point, his throw bounces awkwardly and hits Root square in the upper thigh area. Kohli pats him on the back in apology. Root smiles. Might there have been more bristle if it was the other way round?
“Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of ‘Collapse Into Now’, R.E.M.’s fifteenth and final studio album. “ writes Simon Kirchin. “ The England cricket team are marking the occasion A DAY EARLY. They can’t even get that right.”
17th over: England 37-4 (Root 20, Pope 3) Kohli whistles for Siraj, whose hand must have recovered from his pre-lunch tumble. Must be for Root, who has looked assured against the spinners. What, then, is the prescription for England’s batsmen? A period of abstinence from playing the sweep? A cool, dark room?
16th over: England 35-4 (Root 19, Pope 2) Root watchful, the boyish grin still there, and a maiden for Axar Patel who wizzes through his overs like a dog eating a forbidden slither of bacon.
15th over: England 35-4 (Root 19, Pope 2) Ashwin continues to enjoy his dream playground. Root tops him around to square leg for a single and England limp on.
“Morning!” Mornig Kenny. “Just checked in to take a look at the OBO, and well, both Axar and Washington deserved better. A 50 and a 100 respectively would’ve gone a long way to acknowledge what a good job those two have been doing throughout this series. Axar has been a standout performer and Washington has efficiently done his part whenever asked to. Absolutely solid backbone for this team, kudos to them.Also, how unfortunate was that Sibley dismissal?”enny
14th over: England 33-4 (Root 16, Pope 1) Two goldfinches perch in the silver birch outside my window. Pope picks up a single off Axar and scarpers up the other end. My tea leaves say this will be over by tea.
WICKET! Stokes c Kohli b Patel 2
Stokes sweeps, but it goes straight to short leg where an exuberant Kohli says merci bien. A dismissal that somehow manages to be a complete hybrid of both Sibley and Bairstow’s wickets.
12th over: England 29-3 (Root 12, Stokes 2) Ashwin has dismissed Stokes 11 times previously. And one fizzes past his outside edge, before he snatches a quick single to finish the over. Sunil Gavaskar stares at a delicious looking chocolate cake and waves a sharp knife around in the commentary box. I can’t quite work out why.
11th over: England 29-3 (Root 12, Stokes 0) Stokes shifts off the mark with a single second ball. This is the England power house, but their energy must be sapped already and there’s another hour and a half before tea. Root plays out the remainder of Axar’s over.
“ “You can say Sibley was unlucky but surely a good sweeper of the ball can easily avoid the close fielder? You rarely see Root nail the guys around the bat. If Sibley can’t sweep well, put the shot away. And surely this has to be Bairstow’s last ever Test, regardless of how many CC runs he scores anymore? “ So stern Kevin Wilson on a Saturday morning.
101h over: England 28-3 (Root 12, Stokes 0) Two gorgeous shots from Joe Root, through the covers for fours of light relief. Ashwin goes round the wicket as a result.
10th over: England 20-3 (Root 8, Stokes 0) Stokes just has to bat for two days now.
“Good morning Tanya.” Hello Amelia!
“Anyone else a bit desensitised after last week. I feel like we are back in the groove of England batting circa the 90’s replace Atherton with Root and maybe a Ramprakash for Lawrence. I think we all know the major plot points of this movie. Looking forward to the sequel in England in the summer.”
Axar and Ashwin have now taken 52 wickets between them this series.
WICKET! Sibley c Pant b Axar 3
Man, that’s unlucky. Sibley stretches forward to sweep and clops Shubman Gill on the left knee at short leg. The ball riccochets into the air and a quick-thinking Pant collects with a nod of thanks. Root removes his gloves and helmet and takes a deep breath
9th over: England 19-2 (Root 7, Sibley 3) Sibley’s bits and pieces technique survives four balls from Ashwin, though is beaten past the outside edge with the last.
Incidentally, Jonny Bairstow has now made six ducks in his last nine Test innings v India, which adds a little grist to Adrian’s mill.
8th over: England 17-2 (Root 6, Sibley 2) Root sweeps again, a top-edge but into the empty outfield. Axar finding bounce and turn.
“Morning Tanya” Morning Adrian Armstrong! “Will a generation of Indian children grow up to use the phrase ‘I’ll be with you in a Bairstow’?”
7th over: England 15-2 (Root 4, Sibley 2) Somehow, Root is still grinning.He sweeps a couple from Ashwin, he’s not going to go down meekly.
Phillip Pigott gets in first with what I suspect will be a few missives on the same subject. “YJB or rather, WhyJB?”
6th over: England 12-2 (Root 2, Sibley 1) Root teases Strauss, and flies very close to being lbw fourth ball to Axar Patel. Virat Kohli, who has had an appalling run with the review system , rejects Pant’s pleas. As it turns out, he’s right, it would have been umpire’s call.
5th over: England 10-2 (Root 1, Sibley 1) R Ashwin gets his huge paws on the ball. His second ball turns out of the dust past the diving Pant for four leg byes. His fourth traps Crawley , his fifth Bairstow wristily hands to Rahane, and his hat-trick ball? Root calmly tips into the leg side. At least no-one has been lbw to Axar yet.
WICKET! Bairstow c Rahane b Ashwin 0
Don’t look. Baristow guides his first ball into the hands of the waiting Rahane at leg slip. His third duck in four innings.
WICKET! Cralwey c Rahane b Ashwin 5
The ball pitches in the same spot as one that spun sharply earlier in the over, but doesn’t zip and zag but instead goes straight on. Crawley plays for spin, edges and the ball slips into Rahane’s hands at slip.
4th over: England 6-0 (Crawley 5, Sibley 1) It is Axar Patel to resume after lunch. A maiden that Sibley plays competently enough. Nicholas Varley, though, has his doubts.
“Good Morning Tanya.” Good morning Column Fordham!
“Writing from Naples where the AQI is a rather unsalutory 159 and therefore not ideal for a test match. Strauss’ admonition to England’s leading batsmen is really helpful. So getting bowled by Axar is ok, then? Just not LBW. I’m sure Sibley will oblige before too long but we England fans live in hope.
“It would be nice if Bairstow could make a few more runs than Axar Patel this time (Patel 43 batting number 9, YJB 28 batting number 3).
“If India are the Bayern Munich of cricket (I did root for them against the Aussies but then that’s only normal given Ashes rivalry), England might arguably be the Spurs of cricket. They might occasionally shine and punch above their weight but when reality strikes and they play the top dogs, well…”
A final word from Strauss as the players walk out. “Using your feet doesn’t mean you have to hit the bowlers for six.”
“I feel sorry for Washington Sundar but canny of Siraj and Ishant to get out without having to make any batting effort in the field thereby keeping themselves fresh for bowling!” So true Vincent Barreto. It would have been his maiden Test century too.
Lunch England 6-0
3rd over: England 6-0 (Crawley 5, Sibley 1) Can England survive Siraj, one last over till lunch?They can! Crawley scampers up the other end after a prod to mid-on, Sibley gets off the mark with a flick to long leg. Crawley spins his bat handle and gets a couple with a angled drive square. Siraj dives to stop a drive from Crawley and lands on his left arm, oof, he’s hurt and lies on the ground for a good 30 seconds. The physio comes out to help but everyone troops off for sustenance. England dine 154 runs behind, time for a quick stretch and a coffee. See you back here shortly!
2nd over: England 2-0 (Crawley 2, Sibley 0) It’s the long-legged figure of Axar Patel, trademark sunglasses on. Crawley drives his first to mid-off, the second bristles past the outside edge. Sibley, bat outstretched at an angle, awkward, tries to whip the ball leg side but gets a leading edge and it squits the other way.
1st over: England 1-0 (Crawley 1, Sibley 0) It’s Siraj, fast, on target. His second swings away and Crawley whisks his bat away at the very last moment of the very last second. From slip, Kohli raises his hands and applauds. More outswingers follow and Crawley squirts a single from the last ball.
Time for a couple of emails while we wait for Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley.
Football from Amit Kumar: “Just an add on to football reference, India is definitely “Bayern Munich” of cricket. Champions of home, now conqueror of world.”
And from Deepak Nandhakumar “Just wanted to point out to Bharat (112th over) that in Chennai, Washington Sundar’s hometown, the current AQI is 93. So he’s definitely not used to Ahmedabad. Where I’m from, the AQI is 56 and we’re surrounded by trees. We really shouldn’t normalise the high AQI in big cities.”
In the studio, Andrew Strauss issues a word of warning, stern but fair. “I don’t want to see any England top order batsmen getting out lbw to Axar Patel.” And with that ringing in their ears, England make their way to the middle.
India all out 365 (Sundar 96 not out) a lead of 160
The agony is over for England, but what agony to come? Time for three or four overs before lunch. Just rewards for Stokes, the breakthrough made possible by a quick-thinking bit of fielding by Bairstow. Superb batting by Axar Patel and the unlucky (and crestfallen) Washington Sundar, who took their feet to England and stretched India’s lead into the far distance.
WICKET! Siraj bowled Stokes 0
That’s it! After three quarters of a session of toil, England take 3-0. Siraj is surprised by a pitched up which passes through a wide open gate. Sundar is stranded on 96, and Stokes has four wickets for his sweet efforts.
WICKET! Sharma lbw Stokes 0
First ball! Ishant lumbers in front of the stumps and is speared right in front of them. Sundar looks at the approaching Siraj like a man whose confidence has spilt suddenly out of his boots.
114th over: India 363-7 (Sundar 96, Ishant 0) So the breakthrough comes with a run-out, which is probably all it was ever going to be.
WICKET! Axar Patel run out 43
From nowhere! A smashing bit of fielding from Jonny Bairstow, who whips the ball in to Root who removes the bails with Axar a few inches short. Sent back by Sundar for a crazy run that was never there.
112th over: India 363-7 (Sundar 95, Axar 42) Dom Bess dives with all his might – and prevents a low-legged pull from Axar running across the boundary, a shot that brings up the century partnership. 104 off 173 balls. Six from Stokes’s over – time for a change, but who? Do none of these England batsmen bowl dibbly-dobblies?
“Topnof the Morning to you Tanya!” Hello Amitabh Mukherjee!
“What Clive missed pointing out is, 194-300 is the average AQI in Ahmedabad. It’s 250 in parts of Delhi. As Indians, we’re radioactive ️. At least our lungs are anyway. Not a proud moment just a fact Axar taking in lungfuls of that freshness to bring up his 50 and Sundar hid 100. Another fantastic rearguard fightback like at the SCG/Gabba. Dawn of the Asian Era. Secret might just be in Radioactiveness of our lads. Just ask Imagine Dragons.”
111th over: India 357-7 (Sundar 91, Axar 40) Root turns one and it detonates out of the foot holes, just evading Axar’s bat. Not really what England really wanted to see, though Axar will be delighted.
And now we see the ground from the air, pollution obscuring much of the view of the city.
110th over: India 351-7 (Sundar 90, Axar 37) Stokes’ average speed has slowly dropped throughout the match, according to the figures on the television. But not the effort. He looks such an athlete these days, gone are any days of puppy fat.
Going back to Clive Pullinger’s point about the air pollution, this is where the authorities, local and ICC, have repeatedly turned a blind eye and failed their own players.
109th over: India 349-7 (Sundar 89, Axar 36) Root, shirt buttoned (buttoned?) at the wrist, wheels in . Ears pinking in the severe heat. Low arm, and makes it spin, and bounce, out of the dust.
“Foreign pacers do struggle so often on the dustbowls of India,” writes Ayan Chakrabarti. “But the craft and class of Jimmy Anderson in this series is simply unparalleled in recent history. Despite being an Indian supporter my heart bleeds to seem him soldier on sans much support.”
He, I’m sure, would thank you – once he’s recovered.
108th over: India 347-7 (Sundar 88, Axar 35) In the television studio they’re thinking that the pitch is either nicely paced and easy to bat on; or these two youngsters are playing out of their skins. I guess we’ll see whenever England managed to get them out and pad up themselves. In the meantime, Stokes bowls from wide of the crease and slams the ball into the pitch and it rises awkwardly on Axar who stabs the ball away. More short balls follow. I ache just watching them. Just noticed Ben Foakes behind the stumps for the first time today – in the unobtrusiveness stakes, highly valued for a keeper, he scores highly.
107th over: India 344-7 (Sundar 86, Axar 34) Joe Root searches around the field and turns to … himself. A decent enough over, just a couple of singles. That’s drinks and time for me to find a blanket to cover my chilly knees. Such glamour on the OBO. India lead by 139 runs.
106th over: India 342-7 (Sundar 85, Axar 33) Stokes thunders through another over, leaking four runs to a couple of wristy shots from Sundar.
Good morning Saurabh Raye! “This is with reference to ‘All the while India – the Brazil of cricket teams in 2021- can lick their fingers at what a day three pitch might do’
Brazil is usually the neutrals favourite and a liked team overall for a casual follower of football.As an India supporter there is a distinctively uncomfortable feeling that with the IPL riches and a powerful BCCI , the Indian cricket team is really not universally liked or the neutrals favourite anymore ( assuming it ever was), That honour goes to New Zealand.”
A very good point. A better football pundit than me is needed here. Could India, then, be the Barcelona of football?
105th over: India 338-7 (Sundar 76, Axar 33) Washington Sundar, lithe of limb, power-taps Leach straight back through his ankles for four.
“Anybody looked at the air quality index at the ground in Ahmedabad today?” asks Clive Pullinger. “Not sure it’s healthy to be playing today.”
That’s a very good point Clive. The live index confirms your suspicion: 194 US AQI which is unhealthy. Health recommendations suggest: wear a mask outside, shut all windows, run an air purifier and AVOID OUTDOOR EXERCISE.
105th over: India 333-7 ( Sundar 76 , Axar 33) It is the mighty Stokes, long Dennis Compton hair held back by a mixture of sweat and oil. He challenges straight away, one from the over.
104th over: India 332-7 ( Sundar 76 , Axar 33) The pitch has no devil – at least for these Indian batsmen who’ve been out there for three-quarters of an hour now this morning. First Sundar launches Leach over mid-on for a single, then Axar does it better – a saucy six!
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen that “Walking like a dude” ad, and as someone who has been consuming content mostly off my laptop/phone (sans ads), I can only giggle at the absurdity of some advertisements, “chuckles Kanishk Srinivasan
“ And also pity the poor director who has to tell a glowering Virat Kohli to dance and “walk like a dude”. The phrase somehow seems to accurately define his gait, but at the same time, I somehow imagine that it’s explicit usage would irritate him to no end.
I’m wondering if there are other phrases that would capture someone’s essence, but would also irritate if they’re mentioned. Any suggestions from either you or the beloved OBO community?”
So true! My favourite bit is the jumper pull about half way through and the hand sign that accompanies “dude” but I’ve already watched it far far too many times..
103rd over: India 323-7 ( Sundar 73 , Axar 26) Anderson accelerates through another over.
“Back in the 90s there was a British TV comedy set in a TV news room called Drop the Dead Donkey.” writes Martin O’Connor
“Each week they would drop in a few jokes from the week’s news to make the show more topical.
I still remember one episode where a character is looking at a monitor and laments ‘look at these cricket scores. There’s a whole generation of children growing up who think that England batting collapse is all one word’.”
102nd over: India 322-7 ( Sundar 73 , Axar 26) Just one comes from Leach’s over this time.
Aha! An email from Tim de Lisle – who is watching for pleasure in this small hour. Apparently his email address is at the top of the page not mine, while we fix things, please email me any thoughts on email@example.com.
101st over: India 321-7 ( Sundar 72 , Axar 26) Anderson decides short balls are the answer, slotting in three in a row. Sundar pivots and hooks, a shot that deserves more than the single it picks up. Patel drives at a fuller one, misses, then ducks a shorter one and Jimmy looks cranky now. Time for a bowling change. India are now 116 runs ahead.
100th over: India 320-7 ( Sundar 71 , Axar 26) Patel shimmies, and slices Leach over mid-on just a bounce short of being a six. Leach looks anguished. He swing and misses a couple of balls later then connects with the last, lovely feet again, and this time the ball glides through the covers for another four.
99th over: India 312-7 ( Sundar 71 , Axar 18) A snifter to mid-on and Anderson leaks his first runs of the morning. he gets his revenge by crashing the ball into Sundar’s groin a couple of balls later. Medical attention runs on the pitch and everyone takes a breather.
As if Joe Root had just read this tweet from Sambit Bal, Root gently removes Bess and hands the ball to Leach.
98th over: India 309-7 ( Sundar 70 , Axar 16) A slightly less good start by Bess this time around. Sundar charges his first ball and swings him straight, dancing feet in a puff of dust, for six. An even better shot from the second, a fullish toss, which, with low back knee, and all angles, he cruises past cover for four. Ten from the over, which somewhat negates Anderson’s maidens at the other end.
97th over: India 299-7 ( Sundar 60 , Axar 16) Another maiden for Anderson, man made machine. We get a breakdown of yesterday, it is stark. First session: 65 runs, 3 wickets, second session: 73 runs, two wickets, third session: 141 runs, one wicket.
96th over: India 299-7 ( Sundar 60 , Axar 16) Joe Root throws the balls to Dom Bess and… he largely repays his faith. A lovely looping ball to start, the second is driven just a LPs width back past his diving hand for four. Then steady as she goes, and narry a full toss.
On the radio, they think he’s shortened his run up a little.
95th over: India 294-7 ( Sundar 60 , Axar 11) It’s Jimmy Anderson with the ball, ankle support low on his left leg, thick white wristbands on both arms like thick slashes of vanilla custard. It’s a maiden, an excellent maiden, the last ball sliding past the outside edge of a probing Sundar.
We see footage of Joe Root addressing England in a patch of shade on the side of the ground. Stokes looks knackered but determined. Here is Pant on yesterday’s wizardry.
And here come the players.
Graeme Swann is in the middle of at Ahmedabad. “Pant’s hundred is one of the best I’ve ever seen.” And more worryingly for England. “That wicket, I’ve had a look at it today -IT IS A DUSTBOWL. One thing England can take from Pant is how he played with his feet, he smothered it before counter-attacking. It is 39 degrees and feels like 50.”
Good morning from Manchester wherever you are in the world. Play starts in 15 minutes. A pertinent tweet from Ali Martin to start your day.
And Pant’s innings gives me the excuse to play this advert again for all those in need of skin care advice whilst walking like a dude.
What a bubble bath of effervescence and impish genius, what sorcery of hand-eye co-ordination, what strutting, bounding self belief. Rishabh Pant’s hundred may not have been quite as pressurised as his 89 not out in that run-chase against Australia at the Gabba, but it turned what had hitherto been a close match, into one looking terminal for Joe Root and his tired men. And pencilled India into the World Test Championship Final against New Zealand in June.
A night’s sleep can only bring so much replenishment for England after three hard sessions in 38 degree heat and a post-tea spanking from Pant. Even Ben Stokes, who drinks nightly at the well of unquenchable strength, was spent yesterday evening. I hope someone bought Dom Bess dinner last night, how alone you must feel on an Indian cricket field with full tosses in your fingers and head and a dancing princeling at the other end. 89 behind, England must dismiss Washington Sundar – who has played beautifully for his 60 – quickly and hope the tail fall in a heap. And then the batting pulls off the greatest of great escapes.
All the while India – the Brazil of cricket teams in 2021- can lick their fingers at what a day three pitch might do.
I’ll be here around 3.30GMT, with a hot water bottle and a bucket of tea. Don’t miss what could yet be the final day of the series.
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