India vs England: 1st Test day three

This particular Test has caused a mild outbreak of panic at BOC Towers, falling as it does during a period when all three of us are snowed under with work during what tends to be our busiest time of the year in our respective jobs.  Add into that 4am start times, lots of travelling and full days and trying to keep abreast of goings on in Rajkot appear to be a little distant.  In my own case, this week has been spent at World Travel Market at Excel, where international goings on allowed me to play a small joke on various colleagues on Wednesday morning:  “Have you seen the news overnight?  Isn’t it extraordinary?”, “Yes it is, I wonder how all the people on the American stands are feeling this morning”, “Oh I doubt they care too much, but 311-4 is a really impressive start”.

England’s 537 all out undoubtedly created scoreboard pressure, on a pitch that was felt likely to deteriorate, but India’s response has been one of outstanding batting and perhaps slightly disappointing bowling.  The seamers have been tidy enough, without being especially threatening while the spinners have been short too often, and badly used in at least one instance.  The stand between Vijay and Pujara was both essential and deeply impressive, slowly getting India back into the match, taking few risks and batting time.  Having reached 277-1, what followed was something of a surprise, for England had shown few signs of being likely to take wickets, only to snare three in little more than an hour.  If nothing else it was a reward for plugging away, and for keeping the scoring rate under control.

High scoring matches often appear to drift for large parts of a given day, as one side slowly claws their way towards parity and the other fruitlessly tries to stop them.  It’s why low scoring matches tend to be consistently exciting throughout, whereas with ones like this the viewer can disappear for an hour or two and come back to see how little has changed in terms of the balance.  The three late ones don’t exactly amount to a clatter, more of a gentle rattle, but they will have caused a frisson of anxiety in Indian ranks and raised the hopes of the English ones.  The pitch so far hasn’t been a dead one by any means, and there is both spin available and some movement off the surface for the seamers and rather more in the air.  It may be simply that both sides have batted well, it wouldn’t be the first time.

While Stokes removed the fluent Pujara, it was Adil Rashid who got the obdurate, yet intermittently attacking Murali Vijay with a delicious googly in his first over back just before the close.  And here is where even Sky felt it reasonable to offer up some criticism of Cook (before Rashid took the wicket, note) for not making more use of him and going to him as the last possible option.  It’s a criticism this blog has made repeatedly, and it’s not a matter of being wise after the event, it’s because there’s absolutely no point in having a leg-spinner if he’s not to be used as an offensive weapon.  England’s plethora of all rounders frees up spaces for luxury players who can bring something different, and a leg spinner is about as different as it gets for an English team.  Yes, he will go for runs, yes, he will be sometimes inconsistent.  But he’ll also get you wickets, that’s the whole damn point.  England have six frontline bowlers in this side, there are plenty of fall back positions should the leggie have a bad day – for him to bowl the fewest of any of the spinners on a pitch that is offering purchase is a waste of resource.

As for the wider question of where this game is going, as things stand the draw appears the favourite, but that is based on how the bat has dominated to date.  The behaviour of the surface is going to dictate much, yet with few signs of radical change to date it’s perhaps wishful thinking to expect it to drive a result on its own over the next two days.  India have plenty of batting still to come but are also a sizeable 218 runs still in arrears.  Should they get remotely close then the pressure will transfer to England as they will be doing nothing other than playing for the draw with the time remaining, while even if they only add another hundred it’s hard to conclude that England would feel safe enough to declare until some time into day five assuming things went well.  But perhaps given the kneejerk response to defeat in the last Test in Bangladesh, that’s still a position England should be pleased with.  The old mantra that they are never quite as good or quite as bad as the press portray them is as true now as it ever was.  All things considered, so far it’s quite even.

Day Four Comments Below



2015 Test Century Watch – #30 – Murali Vijay


Murali Vijay – 150 v Bangladesh at Fatullah

Second for Murali. Second highest score ever made in tests at Fatullah. Second Indian to make a test hundred at Fatullah. But another in the big ton bracket I like to see, and thus providing some of the more interesting stat work.

I’ve done a fair bit on India in Bangladesh in the Shikhar Dhawan piece, so we can concentrate on this one a bit. This was the 15th century made in Bangladesh by an Indian, and the 4th highest, trailing Sachin, Shikhar and Rahul Dravid (160). It was Vijay’s sixth test match hundred and his third highest, trailing 167 against Australia in Hyderabad, and 153 against Australi in Mohali (once again, in alliance with Dhawan). The lowest of his six hundreds is 139. Impressive DBTA numbers. He has made the fifth century at Fatullah, and this is his fourth country in which he’s made three figures (India, Australia and England the others).

So, Dmitri, any scores of 150 that you’ve seen? I know I’ve seen a 149, but not a 150, I don’t think. But it hasn’t been a long time since the last one… Imrul Kayes did it a month or so ago. As I mentioned the first ever 150 in that post, let’s look at the second ever score of 150 (this is the 31st, by the way)…

The scorer of the first, Jamie Zulch was in 1911, and we had to wait another 41 years before the next. The scorer of it was one of our finest ever players, Len Hutton, against India at Lord’s. England won the match quite comfortably, as India’s modest first innings score of 235 was overwhelmed by Hutton, and then put firmly to bed by Godfrey Evans who made a rapid lower order hundred. Vinoo Mankad, how made 72 in the first innings, followed it up with 184 in the second, but England got home by 8 wickets, with Hutton adding 39 unbeaten runs to his first innings 150.

England owed much to Hutton. Quite early he appreciated that the conditions were unfavourable to slow bowlers and he called for a prolonged effort from his three seamers. The second day was dominated by Hutton, who not only scored 150 but, when he was second out at 264 after batting five and a quarter hours, his side were already 29 runs to the good. It was his first Test century against India and the second hit by an England captain since the war–F. G. Mann scored 136 not out against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 1949.

At first Hutton was extremely cautious and his mood had a restraining influence on Simpson and May. The two hours before lunch produced only 60 runs, but afterwards Hutton found his most scintillating form. Simpson played a valuable part by staying two and three-quarter hours while the first wicket realised 106–the same as India’s–and then came a brilliant partnership between Hutton and May, who put on 158 in two and a half hours.

As much as I love the memories passed down to be by my dad of Peter May, a man who once made 364 against the Aussies and possessed a superior career doesn’t get in a Sky Ashes song! But David Lloyd being hit in the bollocks does.

Two scores of 150 in the space of six weeks for Kayes and Vijay? Pah. Gary Kirsten and Ricky Ponting made 150s in the same week. Kirsten’s came against Bangladesh in East London (starting on 18 October 2002) and Ricky Ponting’s came against Pakistan in Sharjah (starting on 19 October 2002). Interestingly, both those players have two scores of 150! Kirsten completed his on the 19th, Ponting the 20th.

Murali Vijay’s century came off 201 balls with 10 x 4 and 1 x 6