Welcome to the House of Fun: India vs England, 3rd Test, Day 2

A ridiculous day of cricket. A ridiculous Test. One way or the other, the shortest Test match since 1935 isn’t a great advert for the game, even if the watching of it was intense, breathless and extremely exciting. There are two separate things here: firstly that low scoring matches of whatever format tend to be the most thrilling, and for the obvious reason that every single ball matters, but secondly when conditions are so far in favour of the bowlers, it makes batting something of a lottery, and brings things to a close far earlier than should be remotely the case. When the batsmen are in true peril, scavenging every run has a value, while the bowlers take on the aspect of pack hunters, circling their prey. Yet it’s always been the case that when conditions favour one discipline too much over the other, it leads to an unsatisfactory game, and finishing well within two days (and with slow over-rates) is not something to relish.

The question though is how much the pitch is responsible for that. Watching on television caused no end of head scratching as to just why both teams (at least until India’s second innings when the target was so small as to make little difference) struggled so badly. The Chennai surface in the second Test seemed to turn more, and the ball seemed to go through the pitch far more. But the players made it very clear that this was extremely difficult, and their view is the most important. What seems to have happened was that the ball skidding on made it impossible for the batsmen to cope with it – the number of bowleds and lbws indicated that particularly. It isn’t always the explicit turn or bounce that does for them, any more than a two paced pitch visibly makes it clear to the naked eye why drag ons on driven catches are so prevalent – the outcome dictates the reason to the observer. Therefore it can’t be a criticism of all the batsmen, quite clearly the conditions were such that everybody struggled, but it is possible to accept that point and also note that England struggled far more, and should have done much better in the first innings in particular.

England looked utterly out of their depth, a far cry from the first innings of the first Test, and part of a trend of England’s scores getting progressively worse. The lack of pressure in India’s second innings makes a judgment a little hard, for there is a huge difference between the heat and pressure of a live match and when both sides know which way the game is heading and are going through the motions.

While irrespective of result, the pitch, or the pitch in combination with the pink ball, weren’t good enough, it was still the same for both sides, and England should have had the best of the conditions on offer. They chose the wrong team, with three seamers and one spinner, and Joe Root was not only being forced into action, but also picked up five wickets. That is both a credit to him and an indictment of the team England had chosen in the first place. Equally, this match wasn’t remotely lost by the bowlers, but by the batsmen, especially first time around.

England’s slim hopes of making the World Test Championship final are thus extinguished, on the back of having made five successive scores below 200. It’s hard not to conclude that England are getting precisely what they deserve for increasingly abject batting displays. India might be better at home, indeed are better at home, but there’s a difference between being outmatched and being hammered. England are increasingly being hammered, and while they have the chance to square the series, few would bet on them doing so.

31 thoughts on “Welcome to the House of Fun: India vs England, 3rd Test, Day 2

  1. Vashtar Feb 25, 2021 / 3:16 pm

    Yes the pitch was difficult, but England’s batting especially in the first dig was appalling. So many got out to balls that didn’t spin which suggests a defective technique.

    As for Bairstow well it’s time he was jettisoned from Test Cricket, he simply isn’t good enough against any bowler of decent Test Class. He’s now been bowled or LBW more times than any player in Test history, not a stat to be proud of. His second innings was embarrassing, slog first ball, because he knows he can’t defend, next ball bowled through a gate a bus could get through,which proves it.

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    • OscarDaBosca Feb 25, 2021 / 3:32 pm

      Agree entirely with your comments about Bairstow. He avgs under 10 to straight deliveries, which isn’t anywhere near appropriate for a test match batsman. I enjoyed this morning, and I agree that Englands technique wasn’t great, but I found it interesting how on both sides the specialist batsmen were getting out to straight balls from the spinners. All of Leach’s wickets were the non-spinning ones. It does suggest that a combination of the ball and the pitch meant they were far more difficult to play. Or maybe test match technique is suffering because the shorter format is more popular.
      Can’t wait to see Englands first innings score in the last test, by the law of diminishing returns it may be less than 100.

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    • Marek Feb 25, 2021 / 9:27 pm

      Could be worse–someone on another blog described it as an oil-tanker…:-)

      Amongst other things, this is a selection blind spot. Bairstow was dropped in 2019 because he had not been scoring enough runs over an extended period (17 tests out of a career of 69) and because he was seen to have some glaring technical defects (as per your comment Vashtar). He’s been recalled twice since then despite having played a grand total of two f-c games–in which he scored 102 runs for three times out,…which is more knocking at the door in the manner of an overly polite trick-or-treater than bashing it down.

      I can see why they like him–he’s quite possibly England’s best ever white-ball batsman and his 2016 returns show that he has (or at least had) a very high ceiling as a test batsman. But if they’re going to recall someone who’s been dropped with absolutely no evidence that they’ve sorted out the problems that have led to them being dropped, then this kind of result isn’t surprising.

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  2. Marees Feb 25, 2021 / 3:39 pm

    Any pitch where a part timer such as Joe Root (or Jesse Ryder) gets wickets for fun is a bad pitch

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Feb 25, 2021 / 3:45 pm

      I’m slightly non-plussed by it all. You’re right, and I can definitely see why the ball skidding on would cause carnage the way it did. But the division as to how much of it was between the pitch, the ball, the combination therein, ineptitude on the part of both batting line ups, the pressure of the situation – I just don’t know.

      It was a bloody odd Test, and I’m scratching my head about all of it bar the obvious point that India coped better than England.

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      • OscarDaBosca Feb 25, 2021 / 3:51 pm

        Kohli reckoned batting was poor on both sides. I tend to agree, but Joe Root got 5 wickets so…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Marees Feb 25, 2021 / 3:43 pm

    There are two kinds of red soil pitches.

    The one in Chennai usually slow turn. You can safely hit against the spin because the turn is slow.
    The Chennai pitch becomes difficult when the spinning ball bounces high after gripping. Thankfully there was not too much of that in the second pitch.

    By contrast a pitch like Mumbai where Michael Clarke got lots of wickets despite bowling fast, that is a fast turner where survival usually is a lottery

    The Ahmedabad pitch seems to have been prepared in the style of Mumbai/Bombay/Wankhede fast turner pitch

    Liked by 1 person

  4. man in a barrel Feb 25, 2021 / 4:19 pm

    What a strange match! One of the oddest things was that batting seemed easiest in the final session yesterday when all the commentators were expecting the ball to play tricks. Rohit and Kohli made it seem like an ordinary pitch. I was expecting Rohit to cruise to another big ton today and indeed he was cruising until he missed a sweep. No one else seemed to settle at all,however. Stokes looked and played as if he expected the pitch to detonate under him. It was all quite extraordinary. Sure the odd ball turned sharply and some balls skidded through but it really didn’t seem such a bad pitch. Did the batsmen overthink the problems?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Miami Dad's Six Feb 25, 2021 / 4:21 pm

    England should thank their lucky stars India opened with Bumrah and Ishant in the first innings. Without Ishant getting Crawley off to a flyer, it could have been far worse.

    Will India be a little embarrassed about this pitch? It won’t look good for Virat’s batting average if it’s the same in the Fourth Test, although they are nailed on to win it if there is a repeat. To be honest, they’re probably nailed on to win it whatever surface they churn out.

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  6. Vashtar Feb 25, 2021 / 5:00 pm

    Root got 5 wickets but it needs to be put into perspective , 3 were left handers on a turning wicket and 2 were tail enders slogging

    India coped better and bowled alot better.

    They are a better team than England 🤷

    Like

    • Mark Feb 25, 2021 / 5:20 pm

      On pitches like this they are!

      And if they are so much better than England they don’t need to produce pitches like these to win on

      I See better pitches in the IPL most matches. So the groundsman can produce them, when they want to.

      England are just as guilty when they play at home, but it means the quality of cricket contest has been going down hill for the last decade. Two day test matches are absurd.

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      • dArthez Feb 25, 2021 / 6:58 pm

        Well, to give an example from England: Trent Bridge has produced 3 scores higher in Test cricket than the ODI record this century. Out of 64 Test innings. With all three totals by England coming against India. Coincidence? Surely not. Admittedly some of those 64 innings were chases, but you get the point. England too can doctor the pitches. Because if they can produce national roads for ODIs, why do they tend to produce seamer paradises for Tests?

        IPL, you really can’t generalise. Bangalore produces such flat wickets, that I regularly joke that a team will fail to defend 720 in a T20. Kolkata usually has par at about 140-150-ish. Delhi can be both high scoring and the occasional 120 = winning total pitch as well.

        For me a great par score in a T20 would be around 140, and for ODIs in the range of about 220-240 (and slightly higher in small grounds, slightly less in bigger grounds). Novel concept for limited overs cricket: the bowlers are not glorified cannon fodder. But tell that to the groundsmen in England and elsewhere …

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark Feb 25, 2021 / 10:34 pm

          There were more runs scored in the New Zealand vs Australia 20/20 match than the 4 innings of India vs England test match.

          I don’t think that is good for test cricket.

          I acknowledge England create home pitches that are not good for a contest. I have been saying so for years. So they can’t complain when India do it. But I’m not the ECB or England, so I can say in my opinion it’s not good for test cricket in the wider context.

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  7. Marek Feb 25, 2021 / 9:19 pm

    Well stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before, as the man said…but how many sub-par batting performances does Graham Thorpe have to be involved with as batting coach (he was back to being decribed as batting coach in this match) before HE gets dropped?

    Since there was a report in one paper that Trescothick had been appointed batting coach, then I would assume that there is no role for Thorpe–the assistant coach (the old Farbrace role) seeming to be taken by Paul Collingwood.

    Thorpe seems to be turning into a 2021 version of 2016-era Andy Flower–shifting job titles, buck stopping absolutely nowhere, not apparently contributing much of value…but still there.

    Maybe that’s it. He’s there to provide the batsmen with a model of adhesiveness.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Grenville Feb 25, 2021 / 10:31 pm

    My, admittedly unevidenced, gut feeling is that England tend to prepare green seamers because they want home advantage. India prepare bunsens because Kohli wants to be in the game from ball one. Subcontinental test cricket played on well-prepared wickets, if you’ll pardon the heresy, is pretty boring for three days. you win the toss, bat first, try to score 500+ in two and a bit days, hope that your opposition is tired enough that you can knock them over the 350. You crack another 150 to 200 and give yourself four sessions to knock them over on a rapidly deteriorating pitch. I wouldn’t pay to sit in that kind of heat on days 1 to 3. I’m not saying that these three-day pitches are the answer, but it makes for a better spectacle. I also think that Kohli, unlike Dhoni, get bored when things aren’t happening. I think that Dhoni was never that interested in test cricket anyway. Whatever the Kohli Dhoni axis, I suspect that it is very hard to get the balance right. if you don’t do anything funny, you’ll get a slow, low, dead pitch and a dull game for three or 3 1/2 days. I suspect that it is very hard to under prepare the surface and still allow a first-innings par score to be around about 320. I do think that that is what the curators are trying. I don’t think that the groundskeepers in England have any such excuse. It’s not so hard to mow and roll the pitch, even if it is going to be damp in May.

    (Having said that, some of the temptation to leave a layer of grass on the wicket in England is a result of the improved drainage. If you did things the old-fashioned way, you probably would get dull, low, slow, dead wickets. If you can’t get pace and carry, you do need lateral movement to make the game interesting.)

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  9. Metatone Feb 26, 2021 / 6:27 pm

    I didn’t get a chance to watch live, but watching some highlights it does look like an interaction between the pink ball and the pitch to me – rather than the pitch alone. That said, England could have been in this game if they had a couple of batsmen who could adapt and bring out what tends to be thought of as “good technique.” Indian batsmen didn’t do much better, but a bit better and were noticeably getting forward more.

    And really for me that’s the disappointing bit. I do think Ed deserves some brickbats for misreading the selection pretty completely, and even with better batting, this match would have finished too early to be called a good pitch… BUT BUT England failed in this predictable way they do where they can’t managed the basics. And I am so tired of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marek Feb 26, 2021 / 6:31 pm

      Not sure that’s Ed’s job; at the very least, it’s not his alone on tour. I suspect Chris and Joe were more central to it.

      Like

  10. man in a barrel Feb 27, 2021 / 12:49 am

    Look at Rohit’s stats for this match, compared with everyone else combined.

    Like

  11. Marek Mar 1, 2021 / 11:05 am

    And this week, ladies and gentlemen, Graham Thorpe is….”full-time assistant coach”–again. How many do they need?!

    The new Elite coaches (my, England seem to have gone full-on Justin Langer in their nomenclature) seem to be elite in the sense that they’re working with absolutely everybody from the U19s (sorry, Young Lions) upwards rather than anyone in particular–so I fear that a buck stopping nowhere is with us for a while yet.

    Last but not least–if there was a prize (there probably is somewhere) for the talking of jargon- and cliche-ridden, semi-literate corporate bullshit, Mo Bobat would walk it!

    Like

  12. Marek Mar 3, 2021 / 2:16 pm

    I dunno, you wait ages for a two-day test (or at least Tom Harrison does…:-) and then two come along at once…

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  13. Marek Mar 3, 2021 / 10:36 pm

    This week’s “promoting youth” award goes to the West Indies T20 side, with its 36-year-old, 37-year-old, 39-year-old and 41-year-old. Bert Ironmonger eat your heart out!

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  14. dlpthomas Mar 4, 2021 / 3:54 am

    So England drop Broad and Archer and bring in Bess and Lawrence. I’m going to be polite and say that seems brave.

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  15. dlpthomas Mar 4, 2021 / 4:31 am

    Axar gets a wicket with his second ball.

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  16. dlpthomas Mar 4, 2021 / 5:07 am

    Just imagine how good Axar will be if he ever start turning the ball.

    Meanwhile, Root plumb LBW to Siraj and its 3 for 30.

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    • Tom Kerr Mar 4, 2021 / 9:22 am

      You have to admit that Siraj bowled beautifully though. That was some top-class quick bowling. I also got the impression that Root and Stokes seemed to look quite rusty against seam bowling, at times looking as though they were getting beaten for pace. Good knock by Stokes in the end though.

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      • dlpthomas Mar 4, 2021 / 11:29 am

        He bowled well in Australia, too. He looks a real prospect.

        Like

    • Miami Dad's Six Mar 4, 2021 / 9:29 am

      We’ve bobbed along to 166-6.

      There is a bit more batting to come this time around – but on this pitch it feels like we’ve maybe missed an opportunity here. Sibley and Crawley got out to a left arm spinner for the umpteenth time this winter, whilst Bairstow, Root and Stokes missed straight ones.

      Are we a bowler short? Stokes has barely bowled this winter and has looked terrible when he has had the ball. If it’s not turning, is Leach good enough to tie up an end? It has started turning a bit more already even in this session, at least.

      Swann loves Pope which makes me hate him.

      Like

      • Tom Kerr Mar 4, 2021 / 9:46 am

        I felt very much the same about going in with only Anderson and Stokes as seamers. In the first session it looked a decent pitch for the quicker bowlers so was a bit worried. I understand England’s thinking but Siraj has shown that someone with decent pace can do a job on this wicket, and getting Bess back in the side might not outweigh the advantage of having Broad or Archer playing. However, as you mention, the pitch is now starting to take spin.

        For me, I agree with your argument about Stokes. I would have him in the team every match if that was possible, but not at the expense of another opening quick bowler. Anyway, we might get an answer about that before this day is over as Foakes has just been dismissed.

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  17. dArthez Mar 4, 2021 / 10:06 am

    Rush of blood by Lawrence may mean that England will post less than 200 six innings in a row.

    But it is really not a 200 all out pitch.

    Like

    • Tom Kerr Mar 4, 2021 / 10:16 am

      I was thinking it’s a 250 pitch after watching the first session, possibly 300. I think it all depends if the seam movement at the start of India’s innings is the same and if the pitch breaks down enough for the spin to become really difficult to play. Of course, England can counter the spin in India’s innings by bowling a whole bunch of full tosses, so who knows?

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      • Tom Kerr Mar 4, 2021 / 10:37 am

        PS. If Anderson can get it right and the ball swings I think England still have a chance.

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