England vs India:4th Test, Day 2 – Bowlers to the Rescue

First with the bat, and now with the ball.  England’s plethora of all rounders initially got them to at least some kind of score, and then today got them right into the game with the ball.  By the time India passed England’s total with 9 wickets down, Sam Curran’s knock had become ever more important, and for India, Cheteshwar Pujara’s century was every bit as critical – though in his case, at least it could be said that it is his primary role in the side.

Moeen Ali was the star man for England, which always provides plenty of entertainment between those who think he’s under-appreciated, and those who point to his away record (not good) as a reason why he shouldn’t be anywhere near an England team.  The problem is that both are correct, as far as it goes.  Moeen at home has a very decent record indeed, Moeen away does not. Replacing him for away tours is a perfectly reasonable response to that, but there is always a peculiar belief that if done then England’s spinning options will dramatically improve, despite all the evidence to the contrary over the last ten years when discounting Graeme Swann.  He bowled very well today, taking five wickets, which both suggested that England may have their hands full with Ravi Ashwin, and highlighted the oddity of England playing two spinners and then only giving Rashid seven overs.  Two spinners often looks a luxury in England, and in this instance appears to be more about shoe-horning additional batting all rounders into the side than any expectation about the pitch.  Still, it’s always possible the second innings will be more conducive to Rashid’s skills, though leg spinners do tend to need runs on the board to be most effective, something England have been singularly unable to provide recently.

Broad too bowled well, and tested all the batsmen, while Sam Curran was the one who snared the prize wicket of an oddly out of sorts Virat Kohli.  But England used seven bowlers, including Keaton Jennings, who must have dearly wished for a bonus wicket to cheer himself up, and it looked overkill, with Stokes too just bowling the seven overs.

Of course, having bowling options is a wonderful thing, and particularly so when labouring in the field.  It can absolutely be said that England have a pretty balanced attack, with only a real paceman missing from what ought to be a dream combination of seam, swing, left arm, off spin and leg spin.  Whether the personnel are all good enough is a different matter of course.

India’s small lead would have been a disappointment at lunch, and a serious bonus shortly after tea, as this game swung wildly one way and then the other.  A mid order collapse of England proportions followed by the tail providing immense support for Pujara when it had looked like England might gain the most unlikely of first innings advantages.  Pujara himself batted beautifully, in conditions that slightly favoured the bowlers, though not to the extent that these teams appear determined to portray.  His marshalling of the lower order eked out far more runs than it should have, to England’s frustration, but perhaps it should be looked at in terms of praise for him, Sharma and Bumrah rather than anything England did obviously wrong.

As to where this game is going, currently all the pressure is on England’s batsmen, faced with the infamous third innings tension in a tight game.  Jennings and Cook deserve credit for coming through a tricky 20 minute spell unscathed, but the deficit is still there, and England will need to bat extremely well to set India a target where they’ll feel confident in bowling them out.  For England to be warm favourites, they would need to set a target in excess of 250, and there isn’t too much confidence in the England batting order right now – at least not in the top order.

Jennings may well feel this is his last chance, while Cook’s declining returns have consistently left England a couple of wickets down early on.  Either way, if both fail tomorrow England will be in deep trouble, and it’s been a fair old while since England’s openers have truly set a platform for the rest of the team.  No time like tomorrow.

After two days, this is a competitive Test match, and may yet go on to be a truly absorbing one.  But for that to happen England will have to exceed expectations and get into a position where they have at least the prospect of a win, and a series win.  India may well be the more confident, and if they bowl well tomorrow, those with tickets for the fourth day could be cursing their luck once again.  These are two brittle sides, and if low scoring matches are often the most exciting, when it happens repeatedly it merely highlights the flaws in the teams.

Nevertheless, a far better second day for England.  Whether they can make it a good third day as well – that’s more open to question.


45 thoughts on “England vs India:4th Test, Day 2 – Bowlers to the Rescue

  1. Gareth Aug 31, 2018 / 6:22 pm

    Nice summing up of the day’s play.

    With Moeen it really comes round to how you judge his disciplines, and what his role in the team is supposed to be at any given time. It often seems that he doesn’t perform in the role he is in for, but keeps his place by performing well in the secondary role. Thsi will always provide ballast to his supporters and fuel for his detractors.

    I’d also like to point out that I thought Buttler was very, very untidy with the gloves today. Really noticed the difference. Lots of half-stops, and some untidy takes on throws in. Hardly inspires confidence.

    Keaton Jennings bowling second change. Hmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oreston Aug 31, 2018 / 7:37 pm

      What exactly is Moeen’s designated role in the team this time around? Is it any clearer than it was previously? He’s not batting in the top six and effectively occupies an all rounder position. Root clearly treated him as the main spin option today, even though Adil Rashid is “supposed” to be the main spinner (…although he too arguably has some claim to be an all rounder). So I think Moeen did pretty much what was asked of him. Obviously you can’t argue with his performance today (a far cry from the hollowed out husk of a player who had such a difficult time down under last winter) but it feels as though Adil Rashid was somewhat frozen out of the action and denied much of an opportunity to make an impact. It’s increasingly apparent that Root is not a great captain, but poor captaincy and a confused selection policy (if Moeen was picked to replace Pope why is he batting at seven?) is a combination to behold.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oreston Sep 1, 2018 / 11:26 am

        OK… So in the second innings Moeen slotted in at three with Root moving down to his preferred number four slot. I must confess that I haven’t seen any of this morning’s play, but are England just desperately making it all up as they go along?


  2. quebecer Aug 31, 2018 / 7:33 pm

    A bit off topic perhaps for the day, but Sam Curran…

    Of all the batsmen who have come and gone over the last couple of years, hand on heart, Scurran looks the best. In fact, if he’d been picked to bat at #5 and produced the runs he has done there, we’ll be saying, thank god we’ve at least got one batting position potentially nailed down.

    It’s funny how preconceptions limit how we think, as I’m pretty sure if anyone else had batted that well (Pope, of example) we’d have them at 5 for Sri Lanka, but because it’s Curran who was brought in as a bowler, it’s probably not even a consideration.

    Honestly, in terms of quality, let alone importance, whose runs have been better this summer? OK, aside from Virat…

    We’ll probably drop him for Woakes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Deep Purple Fred Aug 31, 2018 / 8:25 pm


    • Gareth Aug 31, 2018 / 9:21 pm

      No denying Curran has been impressive, but a bit of perspective required – he has a highest FC score of 96. I dont doubt he will register FC centuries, and certainly I’d expect a Test hundred from him if he can nail down a bowling slot but lets not get ahead of ourselves.
      There’s a world of difference from scoring useful runs as a bonus and being expected to score runs.


      • thelegglance Aug 31, 2018 / 9:31 pm

        Well, to be fair, he’s in the England lower order. He IS now expected to score runs… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Quebecer Aug 31, 2018 / 9:37 pm

        Unfortunately. Gareth, part of what I’m saying is that there’s a qualitative difference between his batting and everyone else we’ve picked as a batsman. He looks better, and is doing better. Given his age and FC opportunities, With all respect, I think you’ve simply hit on another distractor. Advil Rashid has 10 FC centuries, after all.


  3. Mark Aug 31, 2018 / 9:03 pm

    Haven’t seen any cricket today. I felt India needed to bat the day with wickets in hand. They couldn’t manage it, and five wickets for Mo. I thought Indians eat off spinners for breakfast? I thought they would score 350.

    So England get a let off again! I wouldn’t back India to score more than 240 in the final innings, and in fact 200 might be enough batting under pressure.


  4. oreston Aug 31, 2018 / 9:11 pm

    Ben Stokes once seemed like the messiah. Unfortunately though…


    • Deep Purple Fred Aug 31, 2018 / 11:40 pm

      No COLLUSION between Oreston and I. We never met and anyway when we did we only discussed Cook, and I said it first, and best. Anyone who says so is LYING. Typical rigged media SAD!

      But we seem to have come to the same skeptical conclusion.

      But despite that it always warms my soul when some young guy announces himself. Would be great if England could make something of him.


      • oreston Sep 1, 2018 / 11:39 am

        My YouTube video was meant to be a reply to your YouTube video, so I don’t know why it appeared so much further down. This new tactic of thread disruption is probably evidence of a new kind of censorship by those communist Silicon Valley tech giant’s… or something 🙂

        As for England “making something” of young Curran, I think they should consider promoting him one or two places up the order before too long. Other than that they should leave well alone and just keep selecting him.


    • Mark Aug 31, 2018 / 10:23 pm

      Ha ha ha…….Never heard of him!

      Tomorrow maybe we will get….Mike Selvey asks…impolitely… “Why does everybody hate me?”


  5. "IronBalls" McGinty Sep 1, 2018 / 10:00 am

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The opening tune for a test match should be the theme from the Archers. Rum ti tum ti tum ti tum…that should jolly the buggers along a bit?


  6. d'Arthez Sep 1, 2018 / 10:36 am

    Don’t mention it, but at the moment Jennings has the better series average compared to Cook …


    • Sherwick Sep 1, 2018 / 11:07 am

      I just noticed that you mentioned it…


  7. nonoxcol Sep 1, 2018 / 10:37 am

    Not watching.

    Was that another great ball?


    • d'Arthez Sep 1, 2018 / 10:39 am

      Must have been a greater ball than Southee ever bowled (he has never dismissed Cook).
      Seriously, it was nothing special.


    • Sherwick Sep 1, 2018 / 11:07 am

      Outside off, nick, caught.

      Bob’s your uncle.


  8. thebogfather Sep 1, 2018 / 10:38 am

    Fuck… I wanted to be there to see Chef out for 94 tomorrow….


    • thelegglance Sep 1, 2018 / 11:09 am

      I’m most disappointed that you haven’t noticed the line specifically aimed at you in the post!

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebogfather Sep 1, 2018 / 1:01 pm

        Cook, the royal male, now so predictable, in turmoil fails, posting nothing when it matters, our batter in the cause, frequently foiled mail, unable to post a score anymore…

        The Line???/ lol


        • dlpthomas Sep 1, 2018 / 4:08 pm

          Was it Day 4 your going to? Should be a beauty.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. BoredInAustria Sep 1, 2018 / 10:40 am

    I think Moeen should open the bowling as well. Why don’t we make him captain too…


  10. nonoxcol Sep 1, 2018 / 10:43 am

    FAO Dmitri: 7 in 126 is exactly 1 in 18.

    I don’t have the figures to hand but I suspect his first 25 hundreds came at more like 1 in 6 or 1 in 7.


    • d'Arthez Sep 1, 2018 / 10:50 am

      25 tons in 163 innings, so about 1 in 6.5 (that is up to, but excluding the Ashes in England in 2013), at an average of 49.17.
      Since then 7 tons from 126, at an average of 39.41. That is exactly 1 in 18 at the moment. The decline since then, is nearly 10 runs / innings. And it is not like the bowling standards have improved drastically, or that England constantly play on 200 = par wickets. Far from it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. d'Arthez Sep 1, 2018 / 10:44 am

    Also, this is now the second longest period (36 innings) in which England have not had a partnership of 100+ for the first wicket. The current record (40 innings) is held by Cook and a host of others,[ and seems to be quite under threat given the heroics Cook et al. have displayed this year. Sri Lanka certainly won’t be much easier to open (even if England do win the tosses which is a must on those wickets, even for the home side).


  12. d'Arthez Sep 1, 2018 / 10:54 am

    Well, one advantage with the promotion that Moeen got is that the better batsmen are saved for numbers 6-8 …
    So just bat at 10 and 11, and open the bowling once, and Wilfred Rhodes will have statistical company.


  13. BoredInAustria Sep 1, 2018 / 10:55 am

    That worked well.


    • thelegglance Sep 1, 2018 / 10:56 am

      I can’t understand why England don’t get the best out of Moeen by batting him at 1,2,3,4, 6,7,8 or 9…

      Liked by 1 person

  14. BoredInAustria Sep 1, 2018 / 11:04 am

    Awesome stat on TMS (Ric Finlay)
    % of Test runs scored by top three bats for each country since 01/01/2017:
    RSA 41.17%
    Aus 40.09%
    Ind 40.04%
    NZ 38.60%
    SL 37.69%
    Ban 33.79%
    WI 33.66%
    Pak 32.86%
    Eng 29.80%
    Zim 25.64%


    • Quebecer Sep 1, 2018 / 12:45 pm

      Ha! In your face, Zimbabwe.

      Liked by 2 people

      • whiterose76 Sep 1, 2018 / 5:35 pm

        Flippin’ murdered ‘em…


    • Deep Purple Fred Sep 1, 2018 / 1:53 pm

      Funnily enough that list correlates pretty well to ranking of the test team. Correlates exactly if you clump them into three groups.

      1 India 125
      2 South Africa 106
      3 Australia 106
      4 New Zealand 102
      5 England 97
      6 Sri Lanka 97
      7 Pakistan 88
      8 West Indies 77
      9 Bangladesh 67
      10 Zimbabwe 2

      The best teams have the most productive openers. Or alternatively, you need productive openers to be one of the best teams. Not really earth shattering news I guess.

      But, the outlier is England, who are bottom dwellers in opening, but mid-table in ranking. I guess you can conclude their middle order is over-performing, relative to other teams, keeping them in the game, and up the table.

      So if it wasn’t for the likes of Stokes, Woakes, Bairstow, Ali, etc England might rubbing shoulders with WI and Bangladesh.

      BTW, what happened to Pakistan? Weren’t they No1 not so long ago? This test ranking business is very dubious. Although it’s hard to argue India really is No 1 at present.


      • d'Arthez Sep 1, 2018 / 2:32 pm

        What happened to Pakistan? They hardly scheduled home games (and other than in South Africa and Australia, they tend to be good touring sides). That is one of the reasons their ranking took a beating.


      • Deep Purple Fred Sep 1, 2018 / 3:54 pm

        Yeah, like Ginger Rogers, who did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in heels, Pakistan do everything evry other team does, but without all the home advantages: local conditions, home crowd, media, food etc. But it’s still a pretty precipitous drop.


  15. d'Arthez Sep 1, 2018 / 12:51 pm

    So, will Bairstow be missing out the next Test, assuming the injury has not healed, after a magnificent return of 6 runs across 2 innings? Mind you, I was of the opinion that he should not have played with this injury to begin with. That is 2 golden ducks since he sustained the injury btw …

    Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas Sep 1, 2018 / 1:14 pm

      I always thought there was a touch of the Vince’s about Bairstow – plays some good shots, looks a million dollars and then gets out to a shit shot. The coaching staff seem to have sorted that problem out.


      • Sophie Sep 1, 2018 / 2:59 pm

        I’m not sure the ECB haven’t ruined him for good. He hasn’t been the same ever since that excessive drinks carrying stint last year. Still, he’s a good white ball player, I guess.


  16. dlpthomas Sep 1, 2018 / 1:55 pm

    Root run out again – that’s piss poor.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. thebogfather Sep 1, 2018 / 5:15 pm

    Well… it looks like I could see a seriously tight day at the Test tomorrow! 😉


    • Mark Sep 1, 2018 / 5:35 pm

      It’s worked out great for you, You should get a full days play, and probably a result. It might be a late finish if one side want to claim the extra half an hour at the end.

      Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Mark Sep 1, 2018 / 5:31 pm

    England could declare now if they wanted to. (Not that they should ) They have enough runs in my view. (India won’t get these batting under pressure in the last innings with the series on the line.

    India should have made a hundred more in the first innings. When you leave a bloke not out on a hundred and thirty in a total of 270 odd you have messed up.


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