India vs England – 3rd Test, Day 1

There was a lot of talk going into this Test from English fans and journalists about the pink ball favouring the away side in this game, or that the toss was the decisive factor in both of the previous games. Today, England have done their level best to disprove these theories quite thoroughly.

When you go to exchange team sheets with your opposite number and see that they have gone with three spinners whilst you have dropped one from the previous game, it can’t be a great feeling. Joe Root won the toss, which was almost the only thing which went England’s way all morning. It does bear saying that the toss has proven less important in day/night Tests than you might think. The current record for teams winning the toss is 8-7, and it’s also 8-7 in favour of teams batting first. Indeed, the only definitive pattern for games played with the pink ball is that they appear to massively favour the home side with only two losses in the fifteen played so far.

England made four changes to the side which lost in Chennai: Crawley, Bairstow, Archer and Anderson replacing Burns, Lawrence, Ali and Stone. Of these four, only Zak Crawley made a positive impact in today’s play, scoring a quick 53. To put that in context, the other top six batsmen scored a combined total of 24 runs.

Dom Sibley fell early, edging a ball from Ishant Sharma to second slip. Bairstow followed soon after with an lbw to the left arm spin of Axar Patel. It is a little embarassing when a batsman is brought in based on his batting against spin, only to fall for a nine-baall duck. Root managed to steady the ship with Crawley for a while but was trapped in front by Ashwin on 17, whilst Crawley suffered the same fate from Patel. England, having won the toss and chosen to bat, were 81/4 at the end of the first session.

It didn’t get any better after Tea (the 20-minute break being first in this Test) with England’s tail failing to wag or even twitch a little. England lost their last six wickets for just 32 runs, with spinners Patel and Ashwin just dominating the tourists. Pope and Stokes were both dismissed in the first two overs of the session, which left Ben Foakes and a long tail. When England replaced Moeen Ali (England’s top run scorer in the previous Test) with Jofra Archer, that left them with a number 8 who has a Test batting average of 8.00. That decision put a lot of pressure on their specialist batsmen to build a strong platform, and they obviously didn’t respond well to the challenge.

To be clear: This was not the pitch, nor was the pink ball to blame for England’s collapse. There has been spin in Ahmedabad, but without the variable bounce or ‘excessive’ sideways movement we saw in Chennai. The new ball swung, but probably less so than the Dukes ball does in England. It was good bowling by India, and poor batting from England. It’s that simple.

Broad almost claimed the wicket of Gill in the five overs before the second (Supper?) break, but was denied by the third umpire overturning an onfield call of a low catch in the slips. There was dismay from the England team and their fans, not just at the decision but also how that decision was made. First, it came very quickly. From the third umpire asking the director for a replay to his decision being made took less than 30 seconds. Second, and more importantly, he only looked at one front-on angle. It is a basic principle with low catches that you should attempt to view it from side-on where possible, because foreshortening often makes the ball appear lower than it actually is due to the viewing angle and the lenses used.

The commentary was quite forthright in supporting the third umpire’s decision, which was not a surprise. There were two Indian commentators on at the time, and they simply wouldn’t have a job if they didn’t wholeheartedly support an Indian umpire making a decision in favour of the Indian batsman. Of course, they were helped in their certainty by their Star Sports producer declining to show any different angles of the catch (or non-catch). Mark Butcher had been prepared to question things in the first two Tests, and might have prompted further examination, but he has been replaced by Graeme Swann. It’s tough to remember a worse decline in commentary standards in the span just one Test. I’ve been watching it on mute.

In the night session, both sides played what could best be described as as average cricket. India scored 99/3, which is almost up to England’s total with plenty of wickets in hand. The conditions didn’t seem as bowling-friendly as advertised, perhaps because of dew on the ground. It is my vague recollection from when I used to watch the IPL on ITV4 that the ball got damp at night, causing it to seam and spin less. England could have poached a few more wickets, had catches not been dropped and (perhaps) the third umpire had taken more than a cursory look at a stumping.

Ultimately, England’s disappointing first innings total means that there is very little pressure on the Indian batsmen, who I expect to bat for most of tomorrow and put this game beyond doubt. Somehow, despite spinners bowling 47 overs, the day finished 8 overs short. It probably won’t matter, as England seemed the culpable party (bowling just 33 overs in over two and a half hours), but both sides have a chance of qualifying for the World Test Championship final and a points deduction would both hurt them and help Australia. Surely no one wants to help Australia.

I was so looking forward to this Test too, with its reasonable hours and pink swinging balls. After England’s performance, and the prospect of more Swann commentary, I might just stay in bed all day.


43 thoughts on “India vs England – 3rd Test, Day 1

  1. Aden Biddle Feb 24, 2021 / 5:20 pm

    What seems odd about the 3rd umpiring is that for an LBW there seems to be a set check list of what to do and it pretty much makes the decision for you. For catches, stumpings and run outs it seems to be at the 3rd umpire’s discretion, stumpings for example a simple 1- Square leg cam, 2-Point Cam, 3- Zoomed in best view of 1or2 4 – Stump cam. I still cant understand why a ICC panel umpire cant be doing it from home of a booth at their local international stadium, you could even bring back retired umpires tired of travelling. It’s just an odd unnecessary talking point for modern test cricket.


    • dannycricket Feb 24, 2021 / 5:34 pm

      The problem with that would be that the pictures are supplied by the TV director at present. Unless there were 3 directors, or the umpires somehow had direct control of the footage from all cameras, it would be a logistical nightmare.

      Not that I don’t like the idea of umpires working from home.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. man in a barrel Feb 24, 2021 / 5:27 pm

    I agree about Swann. He seems to find it impossible to say anything interesting. Everything has to be about him. The pitch is interesting. When it was dry, it seemed to have a little lateral movement off the seam and slightly inconsistent bounce. It looked pretty flat in the final session, under the dew. The ball seems to skid for a quickish spinner, suggesting that Broad ought to try his cutters again but with the keeper standing back. I wonder whether Foakes stood up in the last Test because he thought the ball wouldn’t carry if he stood back?

    The over rate was disgraceful.


    • dannycricket Feb 24, 2021 / 5:51 pm

      Normally keepers stand up to stop the batsman batting outside of the crease. Otherwise, eeven with medium pacers, they’re typically happier to stand back so they can watch the ball into their gloves. I think the bowlers usually take it as a personal affront, especially if they’re classed as ‘fast-medium’ like Stuart.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Feb 24, 2021 / 7:12 pm

        Yes, but in these conditions I think it’s more than that – they’re trying to stop the batsman pushing forward too much to expose them more to lbws.


        • dannycricket Feb 24, 2021 / 8:15 pm

          You’re the expert. You can tell Broad absolutely hates it when Foakes stands up to him though. It is hilarious.


  3. dArthez Feb 24, 2021 / 5:34 pm

    At least with the third umpires making quick decisions, the allowances for these delays won’t be massive. That could come and hurt India and England, since they may think they have more time to waste than they actually do. England obviously can’t afford to lose this Test no matter what, so overrate penalties may be inconsequential to them anyway.

    Umpiring protocols really need to be looked at. Some of the decisions have been quite curious, to say the least. But in the past few years we have been treated to protocols being ignored time and again, with little complaints from anyone.

    Of course in high profile series, umpires will be under more scrutiny. And one can argue that India were not exactly blessed with the umpiring in Australia either, and England have had more than their rub of umpiring decisions in 2019 at home …

    Liked by 1 person

    • dannycricket Feb 24, 2021 / 5:45 pm

      India are alright, I think. ESPNcricinfo’s scorecard has the England innings lasting 204 minutes, which equates to an over rate of 14.3 or thereabouts. That’s more than quick enough to get all 90 overs in (if you include the 30 minutes extra at the end of the day). England could be in trouble, although they could always ask for a review by the TV umpire.

      I can’t see home umpires lasting any longer than necessary for their health. Even if it is an honest cock up, or lack of training and experience, it always seems like there’s extra suspicion by players and fans when a home umpire makes a mistake in favour of ‘their’ team. To be clear though, Chettithody Shamshuddin is not some naive naif when it comes to TV umpiring. He is an ICC international panel umpire (The step below ‘Elite’, but qualified for ODIs and T20Is) who has been a TV umpire in 34 internationals including 4 Tests. He did the job in last year’s IPL too.


  4. Bazza Feb 24, 2021 / 5:52 pm

    Better off just removing the 3rd umpire if footage not up to scratch, not like the Indian cricket is short of money.

    What it does clarify is why it’s not used in IPL there would be riots


  5. Mark Feb 24, 2021 / 6:40 pm

    England seemed beaten before the game started. I suspect they just don’t think they can make a score against India’s spinners in India. They appear to have miss read the pitch and picked seamers because it’s under lights.

    The changes looked like doing things by numbers. Bairstow played well in SL, so he is rested for the start of the Indian tour. Ali is picked for one test match, and is then sent home on rotation policy.

    The third umpiring was bizarre, and the commentating sounds poor. And to add to the list the over rate was shocking. (Mostly by England)

    It’s almost as if they are trying to kill Test cricket off completely. But don’t worry, the ECB has a cunning plan. It’s called the hundred. Coming soon on flat, feather bed pitches.


  6. quebecer Feb 24, 2021 / 7:22 pm

    Well, that went well.


    • dannycricket Feb 24, 2021 / 9:30 pm

      It is more or less how England fans expected the rest of the series to go, to be honest. England throwing their wickets away to spinners whilst picking 4 seamers. It’s a classic England-in-India performance.


      • quebecer Feb 25, 2021 / 2:04 am

        Say what what you like about Andy Flower, but he usually got it out of the way in the first two tests. He particularly loved doing it in the UAE, as I remember.


  7. Marek Feb 24, 2021 / 9:13 pm

    Does watching on mute mean you’re unable to hear Swann? Checking for a friend.


    • dannycricket Feb 24, 2021 / 9:28 pm


      Although I, very occaisionally, listened in when something of interest was happening. The lengths we go to to write these reports…


      • dlpthomas Feb 25, 2021 / 1:11 pm

        I reckon Warne is worse but I may have changed my mind by the end of the series.


  8. Amit Feb 25, 2021 / 1:19 am

    Foakes deserved another angle for his brilliance behind wicket. I thought he had pulled another one against India in this series. But Rohit seemed to have his foot back in (and shadows of feet planted) in the only replays shown. Another angle might have been useful.

    Stokes didn’t have the ball under control at any stage. He didn’t even have his fingers under. If you see how he seemed to drag the ball along the ground before lifting it up, he held it on the side with fingers of one hand and nothing under the ball. He didn’t even deserve another angle to be honest based on that footage alone.

    Both decisions were probably correct and even if I understand the frustrations on procedure, it would be a red herring IMHO. A distraction from the horrible England performance.

    England need to stop moaning about umpiring & introspect their errors in reading the pitch, team composition, poor batting, poor bowling length.
    Only Crawley, Leach and Foakes to some extent come out looking good.
    But one can be sure that Foakes needs to get some runs else he will be dropped again in favour of Jos who potentially gives more with bat even if we won’t get to discuss that stumping chance with him behind the wicket.


  9. Vashtar Feb 25, 2021 / 1:28 am

    Agree about Swann, constant references to himself and incredibly lame jokes which he thinks are funny but no one else does. Embarrassing.

    Stokes dropped that catch no question.


    • Miami Dad's Six Feb 25, 2021 / 9:35 am

      I think Stokes did drop the catch. I’d have liked to have made certain of this by checking all angles available.


  10. dArthez Feb 25, 2021 / 9:42 am

    Looks like India are trying to bat even worse than England on the previous day.

    117/6, with the specialist batsmen gone. England back in this.


    • Miami Dad's Six Feb 25, 2021 / 9:59 am

      Joe Root looking threatening is the equivalent of tossing the ball to Mark Butcher or Paul Collingwood on a green seamer in May.

      How England thought “4 seam attack” at any point…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marek Feb 25, 2021 / 11:00 am

      England’s attack…reminds me fondly of that early-season tour of England where India arrived with a squad containing four spinners and only three seamers…:-)


    • dlpthomas Feb 25, 2021 / 2:11 pm

      Nope but what ever is going on is really pissing me off.


  11. Marek Feb 25, 2021 / 11:08 am

    England reply starting well then. (Quickly statsgurus–hopefully more competently than yesterday!–to see what the lowest test total to bring about an innings vicory was…)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rohan Feb 25, 2021 / 12:29 pm

    Swann is a joke. He has repeatedly bullied other commentators on TMS, but hides it under the veil of ‘Bants’ as he would say. Yet he thinks he’s a good guy and people like Pietersen are the problem. He is a poor analyst and adds nothing of any use, how he is paid to do this, I have no idea.

    In terms of the test, I’m seeing lots of England batsmen get out to straight balls, I’m confused as I thought this was a Bunsen to suit India’s strengths. Can someone more learned than me explain what’s going on? Are England playing for spin that isn’t there/doesn’t appear?!


  13. Rohan Feb 25, 2021 / 12:32 pm

    I genuinely don’t understand, Pope just bowled by a pretty much straight delivery?? Can someone explain the intricacies to me, are England just frazzled?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. man in a barrel Feb 25, 2021 / 12:33 pm

    Poor Pope! It is not a good look to be bowled twice in the same match by completely straight deliveries


    • Mark Feb 25, 2021 / 12:48 pm

      At worst you should be out LBW, (get some pad in the way) But to be out twice to straightish balls suggest he is not reading it at all, and is not able to even play it off the pitch.

      Back to 3 day test matches. Or maybe 2 day!!!


  15. Tom Kerr Feb 25, 2021 / 12:47 pm

    I haven’t been able to watch much of this match. Previously, I’ve defended home teams preparing pitches and will still stand by that, but I think this is particular pitch is a step too far. The match is going to end in two days, perhaps three, but it’s not fair for those watching the game. It’s way too far in favour of spin bowlers.

    It is entertaining in a way, but I’d rather watch five days of good cricket. Joe Root getting five wickets is a bit of a joke, but good for him! This pitch takes out the skill of the batsman and you only need to roll your fingers over the ball to take wickets. That can’t be right.


    • Mark Feb 25, 2021 / 1:03 pm

      The problem is that it leads to a constant pitch arms race. England will be more inclined to produce even more lush green swinging pitches when India come over here. So increasingly the paying public is denied a contest.

      Home boards seem happy with this because it keeps the one eyed home crowds happy seeing their team win. You just write off most tours now.

      It should be said however, that this is a a very poor England batting team regards playing spin bowling, and they have poor spinners themselves. At least KP and Cook could play spin bowling, and Swann and Monty provided some real spin firepower to make it not such a walk in the park for the home team if the pitches were prepared for spinners. England are now bereft.


      • Rohan Feb 25, 2021 / 1:25 pm

        Spot on Mark, KP and Cook could handle spin in a far superior way to this team and Monty/Swann outbowled the Indian spinners in 2012, if I remember correctly.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Miami Dad's Six Feb 25, 2021 / 1:45 pm

        I think that’s slightly harsh on Leach – his bowling average has now dipped lower than both Swann and Monty. If he was accompanied by a half decent offie instead of any one of Stokes, Broad, Archer and Anderson – then we could basically just look at the batting as the issue.

        But yeah, the batting – the opening over of England’s second innings was just so depressingly predictable. 3 straight balls in a row, all missed by a batsman. 2 bowleds and an eventually overturned LBW. It didn’t get much better. What plans have any of them got for scoring runs?

        Liked by 1 person

      • dArthez Feb 25, 2021 / 2:07 pm

        That is harsh on Leach. Seems to be dropped often, to pick a batsman who can bowl off-filth (Bess), and also been a bit unlucky with injuries and the like. Leach may not be a world beater, but he is definitely far more competent than given credit for.

        In cricket, you need at least two good spinners on spinning pitches (3 preferable), while when you have a pitch that demands fast bowling you need at least three good seamers (4 preferable). That is you can’t allow the batting team the strategy to see one or two bowlers off, and score runs at the other end.

        Leach is getting less than zero support from incompetent selectors / management. That is not on Leach, that is on the suits.


  16. Tom Kerr Feb 25, 2021 / 1:09 pm

    Agreed other than you can’t prepare a pitch for swing.


    • Mark Feb 25, 2021 / 1:19 pm


      but as its often overcast in England (particularly in May and late August /September) when test matches are increasingly played the ball will often swing, and combined with green seamer friendly pitches it’s usually a good home advantage.


  17. man in a barrel Feb 25, 2021 / 1:15 pm

    This is weird. The only Test that comes close, that I can recall, is England v Australia, Edgbaston 1981. It was a bland pitch, low and slow but, in the course of 4 complete innings, as I recall, no one got to 50. The pitch here is a bit tough, a bit of variable bounce, one ball in 6 turns sharply. The batsmen, in the main, have missed straight deliveries! I don’t really think you can blame the pitch. This is poor batting. I don’t think anyone has been out to an unplayable ball


    • dArthez Feb 25, 2021 / 1:45 pm

      I was thinking of the South Africa – Australia game in 2010. The one with second innings of 96 and Australia’s brilliant 47, and South Africa duly chasing down a 200+ target for the loss of two wickets. The pitch was not unplayable, but for some reason the players had massive issues to actually not gift their wickets, during a session and a half.

      Obviously was not around to watch the 1981 Ashes.

      Think this is mostly technical failures (if timing is off by a fraction of a second, cricketing carnage can result), rather than the pitch, to be honest.


  18. dArthez Feb 25, 2021 / 1:34 pm

    If Pujara gets a bat and a duck, not often than #3s contributed 0/4 in a Test …


  19. Marek Feb 25, 2021 / 1:42 pm

    Useless stat of the day: last time there was a match with an aggregate this low, Wally Hammond was still England captain…


    • dArthez Feb 25, 2021 / 1:50 pm

      Well, yesterday Andy Zaltzman mentioned that the last time England had four consecutive sub 200 scores in one series were the 1907/08 Ashes. On the evidence of today, they are at risk of making statistical history.


      • dArthez Feb 25, 2021 / 2:22 pm

        Sorry, that was the 1894/95 series in Australia. Rest assured, England have snatched another record with today’s display with the willow.

        Also seems to be the shortest Test in number of balls faced since WW2.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s