This is all my fault. Last night I committed the cardinal sin for an English cricket supporter: I thought the game was already won.
Celebrating far too soon, I was convinced, without a doubt in my mind, that India would capitulate today, with barely a murmur. I reasoned that the hosts were done for, both emotionally and spiritually, and would adhere to their stereotype of giving up when the cause seemed lost.
MS Dhoni, of all people, could not muster the tenacity and resolve to mount a fightback – or so I glibly reasoned.
Boy, was I wrong – and probably with tragic consequences. India are now favourites to win this match, and for my arrogance and complacency, I single-handedly take the blame.
This match now feels a little like Adelaide in 2006, albeit much lower scoring, and with England never in quite so impregnable-seeming a position.
But just as in that match, the opposition have unexpectedly caught up with us, wiped out our lead, and now hold all the aces for the third innings, placing us under severe pressure.
India have nothing to lose, so what kind of fourth innings target will be Sehwag-proof? And when we bat tomorrow, they can full-on attack, with fielders all round the bat.
If you don’t agree with my pessimism, can you honestly say that when you wake up tomorrow morning and reach for your phone to check the score, you will do so in all confidence and not a trace of dread in your heart?
Spare a thought for poor Tim Bresnan, who today turned in what will likely prove to have been a test-career-ending display of lacklustre insipidness. Not entirely his fault, because he would always have struggled on this pitch. His natural length is slightly short, and while he can be a handful on a lively wicket, he’s superfluous on anything flat.
We advocated getting Graham Onions into the series earlier, and I’d now argue that his style would have been much more useful than Bresnan’s in this test.
If we do indeed go on to lose, we shouldn’t overly blame our side for surrendering the advantage today. Any bowler in the world would have struggled to make an impact on this surface, and equally, Dhoni and Kohli played extremely well.
But whatever. It’s out of our hands. England simply need to bat for more than four sessions, with three players providing substantial innings. I’m not looking forward to waking up tomorrow. This is going to be a very long two days.
I’ve never replied to you lads before but that article was so good it demands a respone!
I can’t decide if I’m more excited about the cricket itself, or reading this man’s write up of whatever happens
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