Sunday, 9 December 2012

Review of the third Test v India

Like the musical Oh!Calcutta! which was a revue, we review the third test and whilst England will be ecstatic at Eden Gardens, India are staring into the famous black hole. England brought in Ian Bell and the fit again Steven Finn and deservedly dropped Stuart Broad and maybe not so deservedly Jonny Bairstow after their win in Mumbai. The Middlesex quickie certainly justified his place as he bowled with the venom we have lacked all series from our pacemen, even rejuvenating his partner James Anderson.

England's highest ever hundred maker

In the run up to the game there was some talk about skipper MS Dhoni having a row with the 83 year old groundsman, or curator as they are known in this part of the world. Now I know the welfare state isn't too prevalent in Kolkata, but to have a groundsman working at 83 is taking the pee in my eyes. At that age he should be off to Eastbourne on his Saga holidays, going to bingo, changing his colostomy bag or even sitting in the corner stinking of piss, but to have him preparing a Test match track is a bit harsh. However he did produce a fantastic cricket wicket, with runs a plenty in the first innings before it started to break up. A proper Test match wicket.

India batted first and quite frankly, their 316 on a featherbed was never enough. Gambhir's running can only cause as much pain to his partner as Paul McCartney's did a few years back and despite the Little Master top scoring with 76 and the skipper getting a fifty, it was always below par. One of the scenes of Oh!Calcutta! is a Suite of Five Letters and for England, JIMMY bowled well as did SWANN, removing KOHLI and SINGH, the latter catching DHONI but it was MONTY who grabbed the headlines yet again. The Prince of Parsimony took 4-90 from 40 overs and this is where the game was won.

Gautam Gambhir

When England batted Alastair Cook became our highest ever hundred maker that this country has ever produced as he serenely moved to his 23rd ton for England. The man never seems to get flustered and with years a plenty ahead of him in the game, he could and should get many more. The amount of superlatives lavished upon this fine player have been well documented in our national press in recent days, so I'll keep it simple. He is the creme de la menthe, as Del Boy would say, of English batting. He did however get out in a strange fashion by jumping out of the way of a throw from square leg, as he failed to ground his bat leaving him stranded just short of a double hundred, leaving him to look more of a plonker than Rodney. Talking of Trotters, Jonathan of Warwickshire gave him good support.

India meanwhile would struggle to catch a dose of crabs in a Bangkok brothel and the caught and bowled chance put down by Ishant Sharma was as bad as his hair do! With England's tail as long as a diplodocus, a score of 523 was reasonable but not as good as England would have wanted. Room for improvement perhaps? Certain members of the twitterati have also suggested that England batted too slowly. Time will tell.

When the hosts batted again they showed no heart, Ashwin apart and it was pleasing to see Anderson and Finn sharing the bulk of the wickets. To be honest it should have been over the night before but Ashwin proved he is batting too low in the order, and not for the first time this series held England up. Gambhir bless him, only ran out India's best batsman this series in Pujara.

Despite England wobbling at 8-3 chasing a score of 41 they managed to get home safely. Those dropped catches by the hosts could have proved vital as well as some pea hearted fielding, and if England had had to chase 150 or so, we could be writing a very different report. The body language of Indian fielders was appalling yet again, and whilst cricket in this part of the world is often as attritional as taking the missus Christmas shopping, their adoring legion of fans deserve far better. Maybe there is too much of the quick fix of T20 cricket being played and I wonder if the BCCI has sold the soul of Test cricket to the shorter format devil? Bravery in Bengal it was most definitely not.

Dhoni...as popular as a fart in a lift

England take an unassailable 2-1 lead to Nagpur now, where the Indian selectors have already rung the changes. Dhoni is as popular with the Indian press as George Osborne is here on Budget Day and Zaheer Khan along with the two Singhs - Yuvraj and Harbajhan have already been dropped. I doubt very much if a flat shirt front of a pitch will be de rigeur there given the state of the series, but this could play into English hands, meaning we win the series 3-1.

Whatever happens England have showed an ability to think on their feet in the subcontinent after their first Test drubbing in Ahmedabad. India, maybe through a mixture of complacency, laziness and hubris, look like they are getting worse.

Onto Nagpur now, home of the tiger and will India bare their fangs or will they be toothless again? We'll know soon.

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