Monday, 21 November 2016

Review of the 2nd Test in India

This was a weird one. Broken stumps, dogs stopping play, players getting injured walking onto the pitch, it was a strange old game. After the bland pitch at Rajkot, this one at Visakhapatnam had much more purchase for the bowlers. India bloodied the English nose by 246 runs, the second biggest margin of defeat ever but England weren't that bad if I'm fair (which generally I'm not!). There were plenty of positives, to quote numerous English sportsmen over the years but we lost after a collapse that would make the theatrics of an Italian centre forward look wooden. This is a review of the Test...

The Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA stadium!
India has taken various banknotes out of circulation recently due to money laundering. Unfortunately for England, Chris Woakes was taken out of circulation for this match and it was a huge decision with Anderson replacing him. He should have replaced Ansari who was suffering from a stomach bug during this game. Luckily for the Surrey man his whites didn't have to be laundered, often a casualty of playing in India. Jayant Yadav came in for India whilst Gambhir was dropped for Rahul. Kohli won a crucial toss.

It started off well. Vijay got bounced out and Broad, like Paul Gascoigne, tried to get Rahul fishing. The England seamer was more successful than Gazza. Kohli then batted beautifully as he racked up the debt of the English bowlers in Visa. The Maestro made the APR of our spinners go through the roof as he more than earned his Wonga. Poor captaincy was cited in the press as Cook stood there doing a mannequin challenge but Root as vice captain, Anderson and Broad all have to take responsibility. Pujara hammered a long hop in the direction of Sri Lanka to bring up his hundred, but Kohli had to wait as a dog interrupted play. Now I'm not claiming to be Barbara Woodhouse but the carrot and not the stick was needed to try and catch the hound. A bit of steak would have got the animal closer as opposed to the member of the groundstaff running after it with a shoe. Tea was called to remove the offending canine.

The groundstaff work on the dog's recall technique

Kohli after his hundred had this wonderful scoreboard rattling along, but after his loss the following day, India disintegrated as everyone thought the pitch would. Ali removed Jadeja and the Indian keeper. Moeen me, Moeen you, Saha. India finished with a match defining 455, much to the enjoyment of a host of screaming schoolchildren at this excellent venue. A crowd mike in this ground would make an excellent advert for contraception.

When England batted, Cook got cleaned up by Shami when the Indian seamer got the leather in his hand. His off peg was snapped in two. Hameed and Root were batting well until the Yorkist sold the Lancastrian down the river in a manner not seen since the battle of Bosworth Field. The Lord Protector Root then holed out in the deep and England were in something else deep. Bairstow and Stokes helped England to get up to 255 but not before Bairstow injured himself walking out to bat. The Yorkshireman does have previous after tripping up over a rope on his way out to bat at Lord's earlier in his career.

Stokes and Bairstow are excellent together and have now scored more runs together in 2016 than any other Test pairing in a calendar year. It shows how good they are but also highlights how poor we are further up the order. Duckett for one, should be charged with indecent exposure of his stumps. The innings finished with Jimmy out for a golden duck, Ashwin getting a fivefer.

Vibrant Virat of Visakhapatnam

When India batted again they were all out for 204, underpinned by 81 from the skipper. Ansari wasn't given a bowl but Rashid and Broad both got four wickets apiece. England needed over 400 to win and were up against it.

Cook and Hameed ground it out. The Bolton Blocker showed the Indian bowling more H Blocks than the Maze prison as they put on 75 in 50 overs. That is longer than the Australians have batted in four of their last eight knocks. Cook was out to the last ball of the day and surely it was a matter of time. India wrapped it up comfortably on the last day as England capitulated to spin in the sub continent - all ten wickets being lost for eighty odd runs. Sound familiar? The finale came when Jimmy registered the first King Pair by an Englishman in Tests since 1906. No joy for Anderson in Andhra Pradesh. India had won by 246 runs but England weren't as bad as that sounds.

Haseeb Hameed

For Mohali, there is plenty of talk of Buttler coming in for Dasher Duckett. Woakes surely has to replace Ansari? India were professional, confident and at home they are an outstanding outfit. Good seamers, quality spinners and in Kohli and Pujara they have two fine batsmen. The openers are shaky and not sure about how deep they go but they had more than enough to outgun England.

On to Mohali. Expect more of the same.


  1. It seems Ansari was ill during the test, which is why he wasn't bowling. I'd give him another game. I think Woakes will come in for (an injured) Broad. Looks like it will be Buttler for Duckett (mainly because the only alternative the selectors took was the hopelessly out of form Gary Ballance). At least Buttler does have some experience of batting in India, albeit in the IPL. Duckett will come back.

    To my mind, though, England lost this game on the first (poor spin bowling, against two very good players in Kohli and Pujara) and second (it wasn't an 80/5 pitch) days. 455 probably wasn't much more than par, and the pitch was good enough for England to have got 350 in the first innings, but they blew it. Days 3 and 4 they were competitive, although I think Kohli is correct in suggesting they could have gone at the target (only 2.7 runs per over) a little harder, if only to try and get a couple of close fielders moved.

  2. Great feedback as always. Not sure Buttler is the answer at 4 either but lack of alternatives.