And that is that. One of the more bizarre days of cricket in modern memory and it didn’t reach the sixth hour. Work that out. Thanks for your company on the rollercoaster ride. And we’ll be back next week for the fourth and final Test with India leading the series 2-1. Bye!
Axar Patel is the player of the match for his 11/70. We don’t get to hear from him on the broadcast as Channel 4 cut back to the studio.
Virat Kohli speaks. Begins saying it was a “good pitch” to bat on in the first innings but there was a lack of application from the line-ups of both teams. “It was bizarre that out of the 30 wickets, 21 were off straight balls. I feel that’s a lapse of concentration or indecision, playing for the turn but getting beaten on the inside. I honestly feel that batsmen need to trust their defence more.” He lavishes praise on Axar, saying he is impossible to sweep. As for Ashwin: “I said from now on I am calling to call him ‘Ledge’. In Test Match cricket he is surely a modern-day legend and we’re lucky to have him.”
Rohit Sharma wins the game-changer award. I’m not quite sure what that is, but it isn’t the player of the match. Thomas Hopkins wrote me a note about the Indian opener. “In all the noise that’s going to follow, I hope that Rohit’s epic performance in both of the last two Tests isn’t overlooked. Take his runs out in both first innings and England’s totals don’t look (quite) as feeble.” Spot on.
Joe Root speaks. “70/2” is where they lost the game, he says. “Had we got 250 on that wicket it would have been a really good score.” He says that this won’t “define them as a team” and they will “use the hurt” of what has happened to fuel them for the final Test. He’s asked a question about straight deliveries getting them out: “I’ll be brutally honest, the ball.” He explains that the plastic cover made it feel like the ball would speed up off the pitch – an interesting talking point there, I’m sure. “But we’ll come back stronger for this. We have some fine batters who are capable of making big scores. It is just building pressure over a long period of time, making it count.” On his five-for? “It sums up the wicket if I’m doing that,” he jokes. Root finishes by congratulating Ashwin and Ishant for 100 Tests.
“Let’s see how defensive Root and his teammates are at this defeat,” writes Ruth Purdue. “This matters, it shows if they will front up and accept it or look for excuses (pitch, DRS etc). They picked one real spinner for this game.”
Root is usually pretty good with this. We’ll hear him talk shortly.
“I don’t want to make excuses for England as both sides got to use the same pitch,” says Ben Skelton, “but what chance the ECB repays India by preparing a lush green top for NZ’s pace attack for the WTC final?”
A tasty prospect! But I suspect the ICC will oversee that process.
Spencer Francis on the turning point. I’m with him. “England really lost the game is the first over of their second innings. Test matches sometimes require seizing the moment. India bowled out for an underwhelming score after collapse, under pressure, at home, and worried about fourth innings chase, talk about a moment. And the first three balls had nothing to do with the pitch – Crawley playing down a line ball couldn’t have gone to (straight one beat him on the outside edge) and Bairstow, I don’t have words for the two balls he played. Just weak and not focused really in the most critical moment of opportunity to put India under pressure.”
And Phil Sawyer has the final word on his carpet incident: “Don’t know what Copestake’s talking about, sniffs Phil Sawyer.”
“I’m feeling a little sorry for Channel 4,” says David Melhuish. “They put their faith in the long form of the games after a long recess. And now all the revenue and interest goes into the ether. There might be some discussions in boardrooms after this series. Hope they stand firm.”
Good point. Especially after those two five-day thrillers in Australia.
That was the shortest completed Test since 1935, according to the Channel 4 broadcast. Ian Forth on that oddity. “Nine of the first 50 tests were over inside two days. There have been 21 in total. There was a gap of 54 years after 1946 before England beat WI at Leeds in 2000. Then if we put Zimbabwe and Afghanistan aside (four occasions), Australia beating Pakistan in Sharjah in 2002 was the last instance amongst the ‘major’ nations.”
Ashwin is speaking about his 400th wicket. He’s a gem, talking about belief that he maintained through various injuries. “When I landed in Australia, Virat thought I was bowling really well. And during lockdown, I worked hard on my fitness to prepare for the next few years. From there, things have gone really well for me.” Has he ever bowled better? “One thing is for sure, I’ve always looked to improve. So, I would not be surprised if I surpass this in the future.”
“I’m feeling pretty flat right now,” says Andrew Strauss. As he says, there was so much energy in the first half of that day – remember when England took seven wickets in 20 overs to start? It felt a million miles away when India rattled those runs off. Alastair Cook adds that the margin doesn’t sit well with him, but I’m not so sure – they did bowl England out for 112 and 81 on day one and two.
How to explain that? England, all out 81 inside 31 overs. Barely an hour later, India smack 49 runs in 7.4 overs to finish the job. I’ll stick around to bring you the presentation and on-ground reaction.
at 10.14am EST
INDIA WIN BY TEN WICKETS!
7.4 overs: India 49-0 (Rohit 25, Gill 15). Target 49. Rohit is looking to finish this immediately! Back to back boundaries to start Root’s over, sweeping then slapping through cover. Super stuff. AND HE FINISHES IT WITH A SIX! Dancing and lofting over midwicket, that’s an exclamation mark! India win inside two days. Staggering stuff.
7th over: India 35-0 (Rohit 11, Gill 15). Target 49. Leach’s nickname, at least according to Foakes on stump mic, is “Nut” and I’m all for it.
6th over: India 35-0 (Rohit 11, Gill 15). Target 49. After the unsuccessful review, Gill retains the strike out to deep midwicket.
“This match reminds me of the Ireland/England test from a couple of years ago,” says Martin Gilbert. “Pitch blamed, but a lot of poor shots and in the end a couple of embarrassing collapses and one half-decent innings wins the thing. Differences? England (or India, if it goes that way) will get a chance to redeem themselves in a week or so. Ireland, on the other hand, haven’t played a test match in the almost 2 years since, and don’t even have any scheduled this year.”
Good point. If Australia do make it through to the WTC Final (a long, long shot after this, I know) then join my campaign for them to visit Malahide before the Lord’s engagement to play Ireland first.
at 9.20am EST
HAS ROOT TRAPPED GILL LBW? He has not. The DRS the original decision to be correct with the ball going over the top. He was also beyond the three-metre zone – that Pujara approach again.
5th over: India 32-0 (Rohit 10, Gill 13). Target 49. Rohit’s turn to go hard and straight, over Leach for four more. They’re looking to finish this in style and why not? What a bonkers day this has been.
4th over: India 28-0 (Rohit 6, Gill 13). Target 49. Root to Rohit, appealing for leg before but it’s pitching outside leg stump. Graeme Swann on TV is advancing the view that the pitch isn’t as bad as it is being argued, adding that this won’t be popular with his former teammates. “You want batsmen to keep making the same mistakes and England have.” Biiig turn for Root later in the over but from around the wicket and down the legside, Foakes has no chance to glove it – four byes. Shifting to over the wicket to finish the set, Gill dances and makes sweet contact, straight back over the England captain’s head for SIX! India are already halfway there.
“After scoring 578 in the first innings in the first test,” writes Phil Crockford, “England have scored 669 in their next five innings, and scored fewer in each subsequent inning. I’m assuming they will be bowled out for 61 and 38 in the fourth test.”
I’ll go the other way: they’ll make 500, win by an innings and put Australia through to the World Test Championship Final. Right?
at 10.21am EST
3rd over: India 17-0 (Rohit 6, Gill 7). Target 49. Leach gives Gill a short one to begin on his pads so the young man helps himself to a boundary, tucked through midwicket. He’s back on the money later in the over, finding the outside edge with one that spins hard and kisses the edge, but there’s no second slip so they get two more.
The players are back on the field. Jack Leach to begin the final session (hour?) of this Test Match, in at Shubman Gill. PLAY!
Hello there, Smylers. “I’ve a vague recollection of Jimmy Anderson mentioning on the Tailenders podcast that he can bowl a bit of spin. Worth a try in the final innings?”
Ben Stokes, too! Seamers love bowling spin. Let them at it. Indeed, Damien Fleming’s final spell in Test cricket – at Mumbai in 2001 – was sending down some off-breaks. Dare to dream.
Ian Copestake, good afternoon. “If it is now being measured out in pints, it sounds like Phil Sawyer’s coke habit has got way out of hand.” Very good. Phil, you have the right of reply.
One more record in this Test? “So far 9 ducks,” reports Stephen Brown. “The record in a match is 11. Wonder if that can be broken before India knock off the half century they need.”
Always nice to find meaning even when the result is near-certain.
“Hi Adam- loving your OBO work as always.” Thanks, Gareth Wilson. “My question- how long until these day-night tests are binned? A test finishing in two days doesn’t help anyone- not the fans, not the teams, not the BCCI.”
I’d challenge that by saying that batting was easist late yesterday? I don’t think the ball or the lights have been a factor this time.
And a beauty from Rob Smyth before the players return to the field. “Pretty sure this is the first time since 1888 than England have been bowled out for less than 200 in five consecutive innings.”
Okay, more on the pitch via Gary Naylor. “Had England used their feet (as Clarke and Ponting would have done) or watched the ball all the way on to the bat (as Thorpe and Cook would have done), I’d be more condemning of the pitch. Sitting ducks – blocking or swiping – were never going to last.”
Michael Inglis agrees: “Woke up in New York to a new game. The 2 Day Test. They should make them play again.”
A beer match! I’m all for it.
Context from Alan Morris. “I think one of the big things people forget when they look back on old batting technique against spin is how it was almost impossible to be given out lbw on the front foot even if they hid the bat completely behind the pad giving two layers of defence. With current interpretations the best spinner often just fire it at the stumps looking for a bit of spin or natural variation as beating the batsman on either edge can lead to a wicket.”
Good point. Not everyone back then had hands like Neil Harvey.
And a question, which I’m keen to know the answer to myself!
“A cricket novice, but avid OBO follower since the last Ashes here.” Good to have you with us, Andrew Kimmitt. “Given the non-zero chance of this being a two-day test, how often does that happen? Can find England Vs WI at Headingly 2000, which was reported as first since NZ Vs England Auckland 1955: both were innings victories. Has there ever been a full four-innings two-day Test?”
“Hello from Delhi Adam!” Amitabh Mukherjee is understandably excited. “Even as an indian supporter, I did not expect 81 all out! More like 150(par) or a bit more. But at 66/6 and the Axars devilish guile and accuracy it was ultra satisfying (given the 7 Indian wickets I sat through earlier in the day) This test has gotta be the epitome of immediate gratification test. Once every 2-3 years is fine.”
Lap it up, I say. Those are sessions to savour as a fan.
“It could be worse, England supporters.” Do tell, Phil Sawyer? “You could have just knocked an entire pint of coke off your table and all over your beige carpet.”
Yuk. An excuse to spill some red wine later. The damage is done. More from Phil before he deals with that. “A point of order in relation to Seer Sunshine’s email. Do soggy biscuits crumble? Dry biscuits crumble. Soggy biscuits plop sadly into your cup of tea.”
“Hi Adam.” Hi, Robin Hazlehurst. “Meanwhile New Zealand beat Australia this morning in a six-a-thon Twenty20, where more runs were scored in 40 overs than will be in this match in total. Obviously the conditions are entirely different, but one over from that match would change the complexion of this match entirely. That fine balance of a decent contest between bat and ball seems elusive.”
With Marcus Stoinis nearly saving the day. If you are interested in learning more about the Australian all-rounder, Geoff Lemon and I spoke to him last month about grief – not your normal interview.
“Adam, because I can’t be bothered to work it out for myself (the game will be over by then), how many times have England been all out for fewer than 200 runs?”
Simon Thomas, let’s go with this list. 23 times they have been out for 81 or lower, but this is their worst effort, ever, against India.
An alternative take on the conditions? Why not. “Afternoon, Adam.” Hello, Seer Sunshine. “I must say it’s been a bit shocking to watch both teams crumble like soggy biscuits. But I don’t think there’s any fault of the pitch here. An odd ball turning has made batsman on both sides toss their wickets away to straight balls. It’s just appalling batting technique. This pitch isn’t turning square, and I might just blow a blood vessel if someone calls this unplayable.”
As I say, this will be a debate that rages for weeks – if not years.
Adam Jensen on that same line and length: “What a test! I sincerely believe the pitch is not as bad as it is made out to be. Maybe batsmen have forgotten how to bat on turning tracks. So many batsmen have got out to straight balls and premeditated shots, not waiting to settle down and get used to the pitch. It’s a fascinating contest!”
Where I see a distinction to last week is that, as opposed to Chennai, this pitch wasn’t exploding on morning one. The wickets that hurt England most, especially early in the second innings when still in the red, were all about pressure and not a lot to do with the pitch. Which, of course, isn’t to diminish the degree of difficulty out there.
Paul Foley to finish on this topic for now. “I once had the privilege of playing cricket at Fenners and was amazed at how much easier batting was on the featherbed that is a first class wicket compared to normal village cricket strips. It strikes me that the scores in this game are rather like those in village cricket games up and down the country every summer. And let’s face it. Village cricket is not only exciting, it is the pinnacle of the game. And often a lot more more humorous and entertaining. They should televise that…”
My one game at Fenners? Lbw first ball playing around a straight one.
Alright, now let’s get through some of those emails. A lot (really, a lot) are about the pitch. I’ll try and capture the thrust of those through this note from Richard Williams. “What is the point of all this really? Is it really entertaining in any way? It’s a bloody pisstake is what it is and if this is what the cricketing Powers That Be have in mind when they are considering shortening Test cricket and making it more ‘accessible’ to others then count me out. What was a nicely set up test series has been completely ruined. I can’t even say I’d be enjoying it if this was England on top.”
My view isn’t as strident as this, but I’m sure this is where the conversation will be headed over the next couple of days.
“Is Kohli wearing a black t shirt?” asks Phil Spencer. “More suited to a pop and crisps league.”
I sure hope so. Anyone got a pic? I remember when Shane Warne did this during the 1999 World Cup and got in a fair bit of strife.
On team selection, Paul Harrison. “Are we in full omnishambles territory here, or is that just the benefit of hindsight?”
Another topic that will get the treatment on the ‘dead days’, as they’re known in the caper. I can see what England were thinking: playing to their strengths and hoping the pink ball would talk for them. But without runs on the board, plans don’t matter much.
“Hello Adam.” Hi, Adam Horridge. “I have some exams to sit at the end of next week for which I need to spend as many hours as possible revising this weekend. I’d just like to pre-emptively thank England for taking this into their strategic consideration during this test and ensuring I’ll be largely distraction free on Saturday and Sunday. It means a lot.”
I’m glad shambolic cricket can be of service. Best of luck!
DINNER: India 11-0
2nd over: India 11-0 (Rohit 6, Gill 1). Target 49. Root around the wicket and Rohit turns him around the corner. Gill’s turn and he’s off the mark to midwicket – no concerns for India. Back to Rohit and that’s four runs, down the legside beating the batsman and Foakes; a half-volley out of the footmarks. The wicketkeeper had no chance there, signalled leg byes. Alright, for real this time, that’s dinner.
1st over: India 5-0 (Rohit 5, Gill 0). Target 49. Leave, leave, beaten outside the off-stump. It looks good but the weapon is the straight one – when will we see it? Now a misfield at backward point, Anderson the culprit – usually so safe – Rohit is off the mark with a couple. And a full toss to finish, clipped all the way to the rope by Rohit, cut off by Archer who makes an absurd diving stop. And because they raced through that over, they’ll get another in before dinner. Anderson? Broad? Archer? Nup. Joe Root it will be.
at 10.22am EST