Welcome to Mumbai Test thread. I’ll be updating this post with daily reports as the game progresses. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below. Cheers.
I’m a little too embarrassed to be angry. When you reduce at team to 306-6 and they end up making 631 it’s humiliating. It’s hide behind the sofa and try not to blush too much territory. I imagine everyone in world cricket is laughing at us today.
No doubt Kohli will steal all the headlines again. Fair play to him I guess. He’s a very talented man. However, as I said in the comments yesterday, I refuse to get involved in all the hyperbole. I’ll save the gushing for the next time he destroys a good attack away from home. This innings was a bit like taking candy from a baby. Our spinners weren’t good enough to test him.
I guess I could dissect England’s performance in the field but there seems little point. I’d just be repeating myself. Cook’s captaincy is extremely poor and our spin bowlers simply aren’t good enough. Jimmy Anderson described the morning as England’s worst session of the whole tour. That just about sums it up. Not even the players tried to hide behind the so called positives this time.
When England finally batted again, after a whopping 182 overs in the field, it was all very predictable. Early wickets tumbled, then there was a little bit of resistance, and then the wickets tumbled again right before the close. It was an all too familiar script.
England’s planning for this tour – from the ridiculous schedule, to the inept squad selection, to the tactics on the field – have been absolutely disastrous. I guess most of us predicted that India would win, but the nature of this particular defeat really hurts. In a way, today felt a bit like the Ashes whitewashes: our team has been totally overwhelmed in front of a delirious crowd baying for blood.
I don’t particularly feel like talking about the small positives today, as they seem irrelevant in the broader scheme of things, but I must mention the performances of Root and Bairstow.
Jonny’s unbeaten 50, in extremely testing circumstances after keeping wicket for two days, was a phenomenal effort. He’s looking more and more like a complete player. He’s now played well at home, in South Africa and in India. If he can gets runs down under next winter he’ll firmly belong in the ‘world class’ bracket (as a pure batsman).
Root’s counter-attacking 77 was also a gem of an innings. In fact, I’m going to stick my neck out and say it was almost as good as Kohli’s knock. Why? Because he made his runs against Ashwin, Jadeja and Yadav in a hostile environment despite enormous scoreboard pressure. If Kohli’s runs were like taking candy from a baby, young Joe was basically trying to wrestle a slippery salmon from a grizzly bear. It was a top effort.
Before I sign off I’d quickly like to try and deflect some attention from England’s abysmal predicament. Ahem. That’s right folks, I’m going to talk poor umpiring and excessive vociferous appealing!
Some of the decisions Bruce Oxenford made were mind-boggling: he gave Jonny out caught twice when he’d missed the ball by half a foot. I can only assume he caved under the pressure. I thought India’s appealing – particularly the antics of Partiv Patel – were over the top.
Kohli hardly set a good example in this regard. I can’t blame India for being excited – they’ve played bloody well and deserve their win – but I don’t like to see captains staring aggressively at umpires, petulantly shaking their heads in disbelief, and then looking dumbfounded and hard-done-by every time an appeal doesn’t go their way. It was like Ricky Ponting at his worse sometimes.
Hey Virat. You’re a superb cricketer, you played a great innings, and you’re doing wonderful things for Indian cricket. Don’t go spoiling it all by showing dissent.
I’m currently in bed feeling nauseous. I’m not sure whether it was last night’s pizza, England’s catching or Cook’s captaincy.
Today looked to be heading our way when we reduced India to 307-6. But some dodgy catching, highly questionable use of DRS, plus some head scratching bowling changes allowed India to recover to 451-7 by the close. One senses our best chance to win this game has passed.
No doubt the media will focus on “King” Kohli – I prefer the name “Virat” Kohli myself but that’s just me – but England really didn’t help themselves. Rashid dropped him on 68 and that might prove to be the vital moment in this match. It was as straightforward a caught and bowled chance as you’ll see. It made me all nostalgic about Monty Panesar.
We shouldn’t forget that India’s other centurion, Murali Vijay, should have been dismissed yesterday before he’d reached fifty. Bairstow blew a pretty standard stumping opportunity. Throw in Joe Root’s failure to cling on to a regulation slip catch at the end of the day (that would have ended Kohli and Yadav’s match-turning partnership before it got out of hand) and there’s no doubt we contributed to our own downfall.
Alastair Cook also had a particularly miserable time in the field. He rotated his bowlers very poorly indeed – at one point Rashid bowled 28 overs unchanged despite looking completely knackered – and he wasted England’s reviews. Then naturally the inevitable happened: England had Yadav caught behind down the leg side but couldn’t challenge the umpire’s ‘not out’.
The only captaincy masterstroke of the day came when Cook was off the field. With Joe Root in temporary charge, the vice skipper said “sod this I’m going to turn my own arm over”. He immediately claimed two wickets. It just about summed up Cook’s day. It’s becoming harder and harder to make a case for Alastair remaining in charge of this team.
No doubt observers will also pick apart England’s team selection for this game. I’ve heard plenty accuse England of playing with ten men. While I agree that Chris Woakes has been a bit of a passenger, let’s not forget that the Warwickshire man would’ve played regardless once Broad was ruled out. The selection dilemma was actually choosing between Ball, Dawson, Ballance or Duckett.
Although people claim that England should have picked an extra batsman, Ball has actually justified his selection thus far. He’s bowled quite nicely and also scored 31 runs in a vital partnership with Buttler. Call me an old cynic, but I wager that’s more runs than either Ballance or Duckett would’ve made. What’s more, one could also argue that Woakes is a better batsman than any of the so called ‘specialists’ in reserve.
Personally I’m not sure Dawson or Batty would’ve made much difference either. The former’s first class record is poor and, we saw in Vizag and Rajkot, the Indians play average spinners extremely well. Ansari did nothing in these two games so I don’t see why his replacement (a guy who’s technically inferior to him) would’ve done much better. Batty has also looked totally ineffective this winter.
The real problem, of course, is the squad England’s management are having to pick from. The selectors ballsed this one up completely. Had Bayliss / Farbrace and Cook ignored Jack Leach, or another right handed specialist batsman, in favour of Jake Ball then I might have had more of an issue with the final XI. Unfortunately, as Bayliss likes to remind us from time to time, the management have to make the best of the players given to them. And quite often these players simply aren’t good enough.
With the lead already 51, India are well in the ascendancy. England simply have to take early wickets tomorrow. Normally I’d say that batting last is a huge disadvantage in Indian conditions – and therefore England are still in with a shout – but as we’ve seen thus far in the series, India’s spinners get a lot more turn than ours.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the pitch looks worse for batting in the 3rd innings than it does in the 4th. This would be an illusion of course. The simple truth is that India’s spinners are a class or two above ours, and their batsmen also play the turning ball much better. And that, in a nutshell, is why we’re getting stuffed.
To borrow an old football cliche, today was a day of two halves. It all went fairly well when England batted – the pitch was turning but we still managed to register 400 – but things went a little pear shaped thereafter. India reached to 146-1 quite comfortably and it looked a totally different game.
Anyway let’s start with the good. And by the good I mean Jos. Last year in the UAE Buttler looked absolutely clueless against spin. He didn’t move his feet and his defence was as solid as jelly. What a difference a year makes. Today he looked quite assured, played a proper first class innings, and largely kept the daft shots in his locker.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer of course, and Jos was helped by the fact that (a) he’s playing on his home ground, and (b) he’s right handed (which helps a great deal against Ashwin in particular), but it was hugely encouraging to see. He seems like a top bloke and I’d like nothing more than to see him prove all his critics (of which I’m one) completely and utterly wrong. Let’s hope he can look so assured against the pacemen next summer.
Now on to the bad. And by the bad I mean England’s spinners. I’m afraid their performance today was very poor. Rashid in particular was woeful. He couldn’t find the right length and bowled several embarrassing full tosses and long hops. Moeen wasn’t much better. Although he bowled Rahul through the gate – a classic off spinners dismissal – he looked about as threatening as a baby wielding a pomegranate.
Unfortunately the poor showing by our spinners has put a rather different complexion on this match. After watching Ashwin and friends claim all ten England wickets, I think most observers (me included) expected the pitch to rag extravagantly. It was certainly turning when we were batting.
Unfortunately however, Rashid and Mo didn’t look dangerous at all. It was bizarre – as if they were playing on a different surface. Vijay and Pujara made batting look easy. Marcus Trescothick looked totally perplexed in the Sky studio. He wasn’t the only one!
I guess we just have to accept that India’s spinners are just far better than ours. Ashwin knows the conditions well in Mumbai and bowled the perfect pace. Mo and Adil are relative rookies compared to him … and boy didn’t it show.
It’s all a bit of a shame really. I thought England’s 400 was an excellent total but now it looks nothing special at all. If only Ashwin had been born in Chertsey rather than Chennai. We could sure use someone like him.
I really don’t know where to start. We haven’t had so many positives to talk about for ages. We won the toss and batted first (big tick), we made a decent fist of it (big tick), the pitch is already ragging significantly (huge tick), and our debutant looked as solid as a rock and made a hugely impressive ton (bloody enormous tick). I’m like a pig in swill for a change.
I guess the logical place to start is Keaton Jennings. He now averages 112 when Trevor Bayliss watches him bat < cough >. He must have made one hell of a first impression. He looked organised, strong in defence and crisp in attack. It was a bit like watching Marcus Trescothick but with slightly more footwork.
What impressed me most about Jennings – other than the fact he plays the ball late and drives fluently – was his composure. Other than an early let off, when he could’ve been caught in the gully, he looked incredibly assured. His interview at the end of play was also impressive: he was relaxed, confident and obviously taking everything in his stride.
Note to the ECB: don’t give this bloke any media training. He doesn’t need it. He’s intelligent enough and likeable enough to figure things out for himself. The last thing he needs is a cliche injection.
The other major talking point of the day was the pitch. Had we lost the toss, and India were now sitting pretty at 288-5, I’d be mightily cheesed off. By the close of play it was turning a great deal – noticeably more than it was earlier in the day – and the ball was already creating little clouds of dust when it pitched. It’s bouncing too. It looks tailor made for a good leg spinner. No pressure Adil.
If the pitch continues to deteriorate, we’ll be in a very good position if we can make 350+ tomorrow. Although some might argue that England have selected the wrong side, and should’ve picked Batty or Dawson instead of Ball, I personally believe that Moeen and Rashid (with a little Joe Root thrown in) should provide sufficient slow bowling options. How many average off-spinners do people want for heaven sake? Besides, if the pitch breaks up then our seamers could be useful.
Do you think England need to make 400 in the first innings? At one point it looked like we might score over 450. However, some good bowling and poor batting put paid to that. Cook uncharacteristically charged down the pitch and was stumped – what the hell is up with him these days? – and Bairstow also threw a promising start away when he top edge a sweep to fine leg.
At one point Moeen also looked set for a big score. He played really well until he tried one gung-ho swish to leg too many and was caught in somewhat embarrassing fashion. Mo’s batting is just like a difficult girlfriend: looks gorgeous but drives you insane.
The pressure was on at the end of the day but Stokes – who was as watchful as I’ve ever seen him – and Buttler saw us through to the close. It’s going to be difficult for either of these two to play their shots tomorrow so it was good to see them knuckle down and eek out as many runs as possible.
I’d be interesting to know what others make of the match situation. Personally I feel very comfortable with the state of play. Even if our remaining batsmen find life tricky in the morning, and we get bowled out without adding too many more runs, it’s important to remember the broader context: England are well and truly in this game. Had India won the toss I hate to think what might have happened.