This report is brought to you by Meantime Pilsner courtesy of the Market Porter public house. They’ve not paid for me to say this, but they are the reason this is a half-hearted report based on the highlights and not one from someone who got up to watch the play. I preferred the nice warm bed all morning and following the play via cricinfo’s app, rather than watch what may turn out to be a very tedious game. Or, it might not be.
Resuming on 4 down, England lost Stokes in the first over to a lazy prod. It’s been a bit of a case of diminishing returns from our talismanic all rounder, 128 in the first match, a very worthy 70 in the second and not a lot after that. The next dismissal wasn’t long in coming when SuperJos, Paul Newman’s new knight in shining armour got pinged in front, having come perilously close to doing so a few overs earlier. Jos has a ton of talent but this is his 18th test match now and he’s been playing as a pure batsman. While he is no doubt in better nick than Duckett (remember him) and the man on the best paid holiday (Ballance), there’s still a long way to go to justify Newman’s exuberance (or should that be effluence). He’s got to be buffed up, because he’s the man to combat Eoin Morgan and his unwanted ODI leadership.
With that dismissal, England looked on the brink, and Moeen followed not long after having been battered by Umesh Yadav, who when I’ve had chances to see the cricket has looked a serious performer. I have not seen Moeen’s ton, but one would suggest that some of the stick that appeared to come the way of someone making 146 is a little uncalled for (and I’ll be invoking Edgbaston 2006 very soon for those who remembet). Moeen has had trouble with the short ball for his entire test career. So, to a degree, did Steve Waugh. It need not be fatal for your career – Moeen has five test centuries, Michael Bevan has none – but it is clearly a weakness in his game. If he can make 146 runs before that weakness is exposed, then I’ll live with it.
There then followed a lovely surprise. A century partnership for the 8th wicket, where debutant Liam Dawson made a very accomplished half century, and Fragile Rashid followed suit. There was one late cut by Fragile that was absolutely filthy, a shot I absolute love, off Mishra that summed up how useful a weapon he might be if his bowling is seen as good enough to stay in the team. Dawson played very solidly, and followed some top players like Cook, Pietersen, Bell and Root in making a half century in their first test innings for England. (whole list here, excluding those who made centuries, the flash Harrys).
England climbed up to 477 and this looks like a half decent par score on a slow wicket, but a couple of attritional days to be in store. India are 60 for 0 in reply and didn’t look like losing wickets. The Verdict has been saying the cyclone and the new soil has deadened the wicket, and the evidence seems to be there for it. But it’s too easy to condemn the game to a bore draw just yet. There is always scoreboard pressure.
I’m sorry if this one is a bit “mailed in” today. Too much Christmas. Chris has promised to be on the decks, while I continue to mull over the next Dmitri, think about the new Glossary entries which we must put together, and do all the other things we have to do at this time of year.
Comments on Day 3 below.