India vs. England, 5th Test, Day 1

That we were able to witness any cricket today, a few days after the cyclone that hit Chennai so badly, is of true credit to the ground staff and no little luck that the pitch itself wasn’t badly damaged during the storm.

As for the game itself, I think even the most one-eyed and optimistic of England fans would’ve struggled to build up their hopes of an England victory in this Test on what has proved to be a chastening tour for the tourists. This coupled with the fact that England have proved time and time again that we simply don’t do dead rubbers, certainly led to fear that the players, with their minds on returning to England, would simply collapse in a heap at the hands of a strong Indian batting and bowling attack. That we head into Day 2 marginally ahead of the hosts, is something most of us would’ve taken happily when we woke up this morning.

England won the toss and chose to bat on what looked a like a fairly slow, low and placid wicket. The fact that Cook has won 4 out of 5 tosses on this tour, simply negates any excuses around ‘win the toss, win the game’ that members of the touring party and media occasionally like to trot out, we simply haven’t bowled or batted well enough, end of story. Both teams made 2 changes to their teams with Woakes and Anderson being replaced by Broad and surely the new one cap wonder Liam Dawson for England and Sharma and Mishra coming in for India replacing Kumar and the unlucky Yadav, who surely must have had an injury to be left out after his performance in Mumbai.

Indeed it was Sharma who struck first getting Jennings to play an ill advised waft outside off stump before Jadeja once again snared his bunny Alastair Cook, with a delivery that went straight on. I naturally warned caution in my review of Day 1 of the last Test around hailing Jennings as the answer to England’s top order challenges, as one swallow does not make a summer and he has struggled in the last couple of innings with two failures. I would certainly give him the summer to prove himself as I personally think that it takes at least seven Test’s to fully merit judgment on a player’s suitability for Test cricket and with Jennings potentially coming in at first drop this would then allow us to move Root back to number 4, which I still think is his best position. I for one, have never understood this macho ‘you’re best players needs to play at number 3’ malarkey, I would simply let them bat where they feel most comfortable and build a batting line up around them.

So with both openers back in the shed early and an impending feeling of doom for those that had roused themselves at 4am to watch the game live (I wasn’t one of them), England set about the rebuilding job to try and allow themselves to have a chance in the Test. Root played a typical Root innings, in that he didn’t seem to be in any trouble during the whole innings before getting out. Root is without doubt, England’s best batsman, with the range of stroke play to be effective on any type of wicket and has a beautiful knack of being 25 not out before you even realise. However the one aspect of Root’s game that frustrates us and I know massively frustrates him is the relatively poor conversion rate from 50’s to 100’s. Once again today, he did all the hard work, played some sumptuous shots including a very effective slog sweep and looked completely in control before he got out under-edging an attempted sweep off Jadeja. Yes many could say it was slightly unlucky and it is probably was, but if Root rightly wants to be regarded as one of the top batsmen in world cricket, then he needs to find a way of converting these 70’s & 80’s into big hundreds, ones that in turn win matches for England. This is what Kohli has done for India over the past 18 months and this is what Smith is doing for Australia, so in turn this is what England need Root to do for England. Who knows, perhaps the captaincy might allow him to kick on with this respect.

As for Moeen, it was a tale of two halves once again. He looked all at sea when he first came in and should really have been caught on 0, in fact it was a minor miracle that he survived until lunch. However after lunch, he looked a completely different player. We all know that he is likely to give the opposition a chance, that he likes to drive in the air and that he likes to use his feet to the spinners, but no-one can deny, there is certain thrill in watching him bat. The languid cover drives, beautiful on drives and dancing down the pitch to the spinners were all in splendid view today and he scored a vitally important hundred to give England sufficient hope of putting on a big first innings score. Whether he is the long term answer to our middle class travails, that I’m not so sure about; however he has scored over 1,000 runs this year at an average of 45, so there is definitely hope that he can kick on and continue to make runs with more consistency than we have seen before. Of course, a settled position in the side might help Moeen, but as we have seen the only consistency that England have employed over the past two years is the staunchest of defence of their captain.

With Moeen and Bairstow at the crease and the ball doing very little, England seemed to building towards a strong position on Day 1. It can be argued that Bairstow gave his wicket away with a lack of concentration and a rash shot and without doubt he was furious with himself for losing his wicket; however one also has to give Kohli and Jadeja some credit with coming up with a plan to get Bairstow driving with a short cover waiting for the catch, which duly came. The ploy wasn’t exactly subtle, but it did show that the Indian captain was willing to try different things when the ball wasn’t do anything off the pitch and not willing to just let the game drift. Something that many of us agree that the England captain could learn a thing or two about.

So we go into Day 2, with the score on 288-4 and surely the aim needs to be to press on to around the 500 mark, to give ourselves a fighting chance in this game. The Chennai pitch looks pretty placid and slow with even Ashwin struggling to get any purchase out of the pitch, which does not bode well for our spinners (oh to have a fit and well Panesar in this team, as this seems to be the type of pitch where you get some reward by fizzing the ball off it). This coupled with the fact that India have Kohli and a batting line up who are all seeing the cricket ball like a football at the moment, therefore anything less than a score of 500 from England could easily see a repeat of the Mumbai Test, as the Indian batsmen make hay whilst the sun shines.

England have batted well today and have at least shown some fight in this dead rubber, but they are going to have to do the same again tomorrow to make a proper game of this.

Day 2 thoughts and comments below:


51 thoughts on “India vs. England, 5th Test, Day 1

  1. Silk Dec 16, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    Not bad at all. Have confounded my prediction so far.

    New predications.

    England post 500 tomorrow.

    Dawson has 3 wickets by the close.

    Pakistan fight back to beat Australia.


  2. SimonH Dec 16, 2016 / 4:04 pm


    Number of innings to 11k: Sanga 210; Lara 213; Ponting 222; Tendulkar 223; Kallis and Dravid 234; Jayawardene 236; Cook 251; Chanderpaul and Border 260.

    Average at reaching 11k: Sanga 57.0; Ponting 56.4; Tendulkar 55.3; Kallis 54.7; Lara 53.1; Dravid 52.9; Chanderpaul 51.4; Border 50.7; Jayawardene 49.6; Cook 46.8.

    Liked by 3 people

    • oreston Dec 16, 2016 / 5:39 pm

      Ooh! You and your inconvenient facts…


  3. Miami Dad's Six Dec 16, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    Likelier than 500, I can see a couple of early wickets tonight and an a/o total of 360.

    Quite pleased for Moeen though. In an era where England had a spinner, he might have been a nice number 5 or 6 bat averaging 40 or so, bowling about as many overs as Root does now. Two tons in the series aren’t to be sniffed at, and nor are 1000 runs in a year (even taking into account England have probably played about thirty Test matches). He’ll likely get to 100 Test wickets in this match too (on 97 from his 36 matches), which is really remarkable from a fill in, non specialist option – it stacks up absolutely ok against the likes of Tufnell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tom Dec 17, 2016 / 4:47 am

      Right now, 360 is going to be tough. 312-6.


      • Tom Dec 17, 2016 / 8:09 am

        Have to admit I wasn’t expecting a 100 run 8th wicket partnership. Dawson and Rashid have batted really nicely.


  4. oreston Dec 16, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    I wonder how being shunted around the batting order has affected his average? If they leave him be in the middle order for a while perhaps we’ll see.

    In this current England team in my view they should give him a proper run at 5 or 6. He’s only 29. It’s really not too late and I don’t think there’s any need yet to be elegaic about his wasted potential. Yes, he has the occasional rush of blood and gets out to rash shots, but when it all clicks he’s a joy to watch and he was definitely wasted shepherding the tail down at number 8 (…as much as he was playing at number 2 in the UAE, for he’s definitely no opener).

    Interesting your comparison with Tuffnell is (sorry, don’t know why I went all Yoda there…) but of course Moeen still has time to improve a little in the bowling department too, although it’s probably unwise to expect miracles.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SimonH Dec 16, 2016 / 5:51 pm

      If he bats at 5 or 6, where do YJB and Stokes bat?

      It only seems possible if YJB gives up the gloves and bats at No.4 (which means Buttler or possibly Foakes must keep wicket and bat at No.7). I’m not necessarily against that, but it has to be realised those would be the knock-on effects.


      • oreston Dec 16, 2016 / 7:12 pm

        Of course there would be consequences, I understand that, and decisions will have to be made. I’m saying only that in an ideal World Moeen deserves a run at 5 or 6, not that there aren’t other players equally well suited to that role.

        One of the puzzles of England’s batting in recent times is that while the unit as a whole has lacked consistency we nonetheless now have have slightly too many talented individual players who might potentially fill the middle and lower middle order positions.

        Another complication would be if both Hameed and Jennings both really do work out (still an if) and Cook decided to continue (whether as skipper or player). And what about Buttler? Do we now consider him the real deal as a test batsman? There have been some promising signs, but is it still too soon to say?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. SimonH Dec 16, 2016 / 6:12 pm

    “This may be a dead rubber but England went into their final assignment of a demanding year of 17 Tests with much to play for, not least proving to their captain Alastair Cook that he is still leading them in the right direction”.

    “they can push for a win that would mean much more than simply a consolation at the end of a long tour”.

    Well, I just can’t see where Newman is going with statements like those…..

    “Root may have been unlucky to get the thinnest of under-edges to be given out on 88 on review by TV official Bruce Oxenford after Marais Erasmus had turned down another of Ravindra Jadeja’s highly animated appeals. But, fact is, it is happening far too regularly to be coincidence and this was the 27th time Root has reached 50 in Test cricket without going on to three figures which should have earned him at least 20 hundreds rather than 11”.

    Root scores a century every 8.7 Test innings; Cook every 8.4 (as Newman won’t be mentioning).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ArushaTZ Dec 16, 2016 / 7:08 pm

    Did anybody else notice this strange moment from The Verdict?

    Did Bob Willis just misspeak? or was he edited?


    • Badger Dec 17, 2016 / 11:41 am

      Crikey, got to be edited, that’s a bit sinister.


    • quebecer Dec 17, 2016 / 10:04 pm

      Edited. Maybe he said.”Since me?”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. SimonH Dec 16, 2016 / 8:43 pm

    Strange article by Barney Ronay:

    The concluding point about there should be more hounding of Cook’s captaincy but isn’t, because of the sheer invisibility and irrelevance of the game to many, is obviously heartfelt and well-made. My word, there are some contortions getting there.

    Great comment by Zephirine (in fact “great” doesn’t do it justice but I’ve been up since 3.30am and can’t come up with anything better right now – but go and read it! Pronto!)


    • Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2016 / 9:40 pm

      “He just continues on his way “like some relentless Soviet-era combine harvester” (very good). One actually wouldn’t be surprised if he turned out to be a very good experiment in artificial intelligence.

      Would a lot of us rather watch the Stokeses and Kohlis of this world, who spray Melodrama for Men all over themselves before they step on the field? Well, yes, a lot of us would..”

      BOC has three great writers, plenty of room for one more. I’d like to start an official petition to have Zepherine installed as a contributing editor to this site.

      Would also like to know where I can find Melodrama for Men, sounds great.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sean B Dec 16, 2016 / 10:05 pm

        I’d love to post an article from Zepherine, if you’re cool to write one.


      • Zephirine Dec 16, 2016 / 10:12 pm

        Thank you kindly, SimonH and Fred. I often find Barney Ronay gets me going!

        I’m good on the politics and the psychology of the game, but my technical knowledge is too limited for a contributing editor, I think.

        Melodrama is surely part of Kohli’s new fragrance range….


      • Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2016 / 10:51 pm

        “I’m good on the politics and the psychology of the game, but my technical knowledge is too limited for a contributing editor, I think.”
        Poor excuse. I know someone else like that, he just got elected to be the president of the USA.

        (And it’s Zephirine of course, with an i.)


      • Zephirine Dec 16, 2016 / 11:30 pm

        Fred, I really, really hope that’s the last time anyone compares me to the president elect.


      • quebecer Dec 17, 2016 / 10:06 pm

        Sean: zeph is being a little too modest there. Plus, she can write. No, I mean really. As in books and things.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sean B Dec 17, 2016 / 10:14 pm

          I have no doubt, we’re always looking for people to contribute to the blog. I haven’t written any books funnily enough..


    • nonoxcol Dec 16, 2016 / 10:48 pm

      Unfortunately, this turd just floated up the U-bend:

      “Cricket is just more sensible than football, really. We’ve got plenty of hounding and outrage and absurd moral superiority in the old footie. Get back on the FW podcast and do a bit of Mourinho outrage if that’s your bag, Barney.

      Still, down here in the comment sections of the Guardian we do have a band of frothing lunatics with axes to grind and lives dull enough to persue it endlessly, this is the internet after all.

      The anti Cook boys and their high priest, Clivejw, who lie in bed at night under their KP duvets, fists clenched, trembling with rage that a man of such evil is still captain of England, are getting all excited at this end game talk. Now is the time to post dismissive judgements on Cook, victory is nigh!

      Hilariously, if Cook does go it will be his decision and probably something he’s looking forward to now. He can just get on with is batting, ignoring the idiots as he’s always done.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine Dec 16, 2016 / 11:26 pm

        Ah yes, the excellently named wretch. Wctt’s evil twin.


      • SimonH Dec 17, 2016 / 9:39 am

        Amusing recent post by the always reliable hblove about Cook being sheeped rather than hounded.


  8. thelegglance Dec 17, 2016 / 7:08 am

    I wake up this morning to see England struggling towards 400, and Moeen being singled out for criticism for getting out hooking.

    Yep, that’s the way of it folks, slate the one who gets 146 for a poor shot. Free pass if you fail, as long as it was a defensive stroke.

    Liked by 2 people

    • nonoxcol Dec 17, 2016 / 7:17 am

      Some people also get free passes for hooking on 0 as an opener, 570 adrift, with only a draw or defeat on the table.

      Otherwise I quite agree….


    • BoredInAustria Dec 17, 2016 / 7:30 am

      TMS ´

      “The progress of this pair is making some of England’s dismissals look a little woeful. I’m looking at you Keaton Jennings, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow…”

      Some names playing round a stright one missing…

      Liked by 2 people

  9. BoredInAustria Dec 17, 2016 / 7:40 am

    Gavaskar on TMS: “This team has gelled under Kohli. There’s a positive vibe about it, they are attacking all the time”

    Cook on Root in the Guardian: “Joe is an outstanding player, I have been very fond of his game and the way he plays. He is very positive. He always thinks of any situation as an opportunity.”


  10. Tom Dec 17, 2016 / 9:21 am

    Boy, it’s quiet here. Is this something to do with the first Saturday morning of the UK’s Christmas season? 😉


  11. Mark Dec 17, 2016 / 9:21 am

    Alasdair Cooks England have had more bail outs than Goldman Sachs, and the entire international banking system put together. Nice to see the fragile top order batsman being bailed out again by the fragile bowlers.

    Operation protect Cook at all costs is being hyped up to max strength. So now a final dead rubber test match is being given huge importance. (But only if England win. If they lose it will be seen as irrelevant.) the media really do make it up as they go along.

    And speaking of the clown car media I see Pakistan are being hammered by the Aussies. Only one test match of course, but it does make Nasser’s crayon scribbling seem quite ludicrous. In writing off the whole Indian series he seems to have forgotten that Cooks England failed to beat Pakistan AT HOME! Or the shambles in Bangladesh. It is funny watching the contortions the media have to perform to keep their pro Cook agenda going. Which pundit will be the first to write off the of the entire SA series this summer?

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Dec 17, 2016 / 9:51 am

      “Which pundit will be the first to write off the of the entire SA series this summer?”

      They’ll do that before the acknowledge that the win in SA was: 1) Achieved with SA’s opening bowling attack out injured 2) Achieved with SA’s brains still scrambled by their time in India 3) Not that unusual compared to England’s historical results in SA 4) Achieved with more significant contributions from Compton and Finn than Cook 5) Achieved with considerable complicity from CSA and their selectors (I don’t mean “transformation” – but decisions like sticking with Van Zyl, picking Morris and Viljoen and retaining Amla as captain until CT).

      Credit where credit’s due – England put in a good team performance in Durban (probably Cook’s best game as captain) and the Root and Broad performances in Johannesburg were genuinely great. But, heavens, there was a lot more to it than “Cook won in SA”.

      By the way, what’s the betting that Dawson’s runs are going to be enlisted to prove what a good judge a certain candidate for the new Chairman of Selectors is?

      And by the way part 2, with 477 on the board Cook’s field has started with three men on the boundary. Well done, Atherton for highlighting it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol Dec 17, 2016 / 2:50 pm

        His lowest ever average in a series of three Tests or more.

        Still not seen that stat outside this blog or a few forlorn posts at the G.


  12. Tom Dec 17, 2016 / 9:42 am

    That was a weird first innings from England. I guess you can’t really complain about 477, but am having a hard time finding an adjective to describe it. Maybe Moeen’s innings sums it up – dreadful at first and then majestic. You can’t argue with 146 runs from your number 4 although I know some have. Root’s innings was just the usual great Root stuff until an unfortunate end.

    After the mini-collapse at the start of the second day, England did well to reach the score they did. Dawson and Rashid batted really well, but yet again England’s late order saves the day. Or have they?


  13. dlpthomas Dec 17, 2016 / 9:58 am

    Ashwin is currently the number 1 ranked bowler in the world. He has played 44 tests and in this series (at home and against a team that is a bit dodgy against spin) has 28 wickets at an average of 28.3 and a strike rate of 60.

    Rashid is ranked 47th in the world and is currently playing his 10 test (away and against a side who play spin rather well), So far in this series he has 22 wickets at an average of 32.2 and a strike rate of 55.

    Now I realize that Ashwin will probably run through England in the second innings and make me look even sillier than usual but why is Rashid being criticized so much? Stats don’t tell the whole story but none-the-less his stats are pretty good. I wonder if, like Lyon was criticized for not being Warne, Rashid is being criticized for not being Swann (or Monty)?

    And it was a good knock today from a man who is clearly fragile.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Dec 17, 2016 / 10:56 am

      It’s a bit like the foreman who oversaw the mixing up of the wrong strength of cement blaming the bricklayer for why the walls of the house fell down.

      You helped mix the cement Mr Richardson.


  14. SimonH Dec 17, 2016 / 10:26 am

    What’s this about?


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 17, 2016 / 11:00 am

      Playing for the Sydney Thunder in a Big Bash warm up. What are Bangladesh doing there is my question?


      • Sean B Dec 17, 2016 / 11:02 am

        They’ve got a tour to NZ coming up. Still a bit weird that they’re warming up in Sydney mind.


      • "IronBalls" McGinty Dec 17, 2016 / 11:15 am

        What? The Irish mercenary plying his trade overseas you say? Questions need to be asked about where his loyalties lie, doncha know! More ammo for James over at TFT to call for his sacking, despite the fact he is the greatest short form Captain ever to grace the England team. There are some ideologies within cricket that I can never understand.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Escort Dec 17, 2016 / 11:14 am

    Modem Ali just given one of the better end of play interviews on Sky. “It’s difficult when your moved up and down the order to settle, hopefully il have my own position soon at No 5”. Prepare for a media drubbing from the Captains attack dogs Moeen


    • oreston Dec 17, 2016 / 3:28 pm

      Yeah, he’s putting his own selfish ambition before the team. Pure ego…


  16. SimonH Dec 17, 2016 / 11:23 am

    “It is fair to say the selection of Liam Dawson as a replacement for the injured Zafar Ansari was not exactly greeted with wild English enthusiasm in India…. Yet Trevor Bayliss’s believe that Dawson ‘has got something about him’ was borne out here yesterday, at least with the bat… Now he will finally be remembered for more than dismissing Kevin Pietersen for two golden ducks with his left-arm spin four years ago”.

    Epic joining the dots there from Newman. (Only slight surprise is he doesn’t bring in Flower – keeping that up his sleeve?).

    It takes him eleven paragraphs to mention Rashid’s innings and Buttler’s failure, after Newman lobbied so hard for his inclusion, gets a third of a sentence in paragraph 14.

    Liked by 2 people

    • nonoxcol Dec 17, 2016 / 2:54 pm

      Got to admit, he earned his gong in a bloody close fight.


    • oreston Dec 17, 2016 / 3:31 pm

      I’m pleased for Dawson. He showed his mettle and thoroughly deserved his 50, but if he doesn’t deliver with the ball I’m afraid his selection was still misconceived.


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 17, 2016 / 6:12 pm

      The two golden ducks were in a T20 and a 40 over game. The T20 had actually been reduced to a 10 over game.

      Interesting. A mate of mine who I see each Christmas told me he was a reader of the blog and light-heartedly told me I should change the record about Cook. I feel much the same about Newman with KP. I mean, outside his nearest and dearest, and Hampshire fans, who remembers stuff like this unless it is to make a point?


  17. pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 17, 2016 / 11:41 am

    India looked very comfortable in reply, especially when facing the spinners. The lower order deserves a lot of respect, because this morning there was every chance of getting rolled for 330 and that would have almost certainly meant another heavy defeat. Still a long way for India to bat, but I just can’t see the English bowling combination doing that much damage against that batting line-up


  18. SimonH Dec 17, 2016 / 12:22 pm

    Missed that Pringle had written a report on yesterday. He really is out of the loop because his theme isn’t Root’s conversion rate – it’s Cook and Jadeja.

    “Last time he was here, in 2012, Cook was hailed a minor genius after he led England to a rare series win in the country. Roll-on to the present day and he and his team have been humbled there in ways not even a pessimist would have predicted”.

    Hang on, Derek! We were expecting 7-0!

    “What has been on Cook’s mind, apart from England’s woes, is whether he has run his race as captain and the guilt all players feel when they leave their family for long periods”.

    He’s thinking the unthinkable.

    “The ignominy of it should, therefore, not linger as it did with Geoff Boycott, who was dropped from Test cricket between 1974 and 1977 due to a perceived weakness against left-arm pace bowlers…. In Boycott’s case, hard evidence to that effect seemed slim on the ground, and the real reason for his absence was slow scoring after he made 99 and then 112 in six and half and seven hours respectively during a Test against the West Indies in 1974”.

    Really? Does Pringle know something I don’t – or is this just completely wrong? As I understood it, Boycott pulled out himself, he wasn’t dropped. England won a famous victory in that game of supposed slow-scoring. Is Pringle confusing it with him being dropped for slow-scoring during his 246* seven years earlier?

    Anyway, rather than check his facts, Pringle doesn’t offer any real reason why Jadeja has troubled Cook and instead launches into four happy (for him) paragraphs reliving Pietersen’s troubles against Yuvraj.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Dec 17, 2016 / 1:42 pm

      They’re so disparate to keep their access! It’s pitiful really!


    • man in a barrel Dec 17, 2016 / 7:11 pm

      This is nonsense. Boycott ‘s pair of centuries at, if I recall, Port of Spain were match-winning along with a stunning bowling performance by Tony Greig. He withdrew from the subsequent series against India after low scores and, although people ascribed it to a vulnerability against Solkar of all bowlers, it was really because he was pissed off by Mike Denness’s captaincy. Alec Bedser spent a fair amount of time on the phone to him between 1974 and 1977 trying to get him back. Greig wanted him in 1975 against Lillee and Thomson. He was not dropped.


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