Jonathan Trott revelled in India’s frustrations as tempers flared in the home camp on Day Four of the final Test. India could find no way past Trott, who finished unbeaten on 66 out of 161 for three as the tourists dug in to try to close out a stalemate in Nagpur in pursuit of a famous series victory.
England reached stumps with a lead of 165 and high hopes they will be able to keep India at bay again long enough to ensure a draw here and therefore a 2-1 overall success. Trott was key yesterday, and may well be again today when Alastair Cook’s team will be seeking an achievement which has proved beyond all others for England since 1984-85.
Their number three was also at the centre of three flashpoint incidents as India became increasingly antagonised by events at the VCA Stadium.
There appeared to be some general amusement over the first, when Trott took advantage — as the Laws of Cricket entitle him to — by hitting a stationary ball for four from well out of his crease, after a delivery slipped from Ravindra Jadeja’s grasp and trickled to a standstill two-thirds of the way down the pitch.
Then on 43, seamer Ishant Sharma and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni were convinced they had Trott caught-behind cutting — only for umpire Kumar Dharmasena to disagree. Lengthy expressions of discontent followed, towards both Trott and the officials, and at one point the batsman responded by mouthing a cheeky kiss towards Ishant from under his helmet grille.
Finally, deep into the evening session, Ravichandran Ashwin was exasperated by Trott backing up too far at the non-striker’s end and stopped in his delivery stride to warn he could run him out. The off-spinner made it clear after close of play that he, for one, did not see the funny side. “I can run him out if he can hit that ball,” Ashwin said, a reference to Trott’s boundary off Jadeja.
“He said ‘run me out then’. I said I wouldn’t.” Trott’s caught-behind survival was the most obvious source of Indian aggravation — but for Ashwin, it was the bonus four beforehand that was most annoying. “It’s just the shot that he got away from that rolling ball,” he said. “It just seemed to be ridiculous. If it didn’t seem ridiculous to you... it did to us. “But nothing got out of hand.” He insists he was never serious about taking revenge by running Trott out backing up.
“I wouldn’t. He’s got out enough times for us to actually get him out again,” Ashwin said. Trott did not seem in the least put off by the altercations, and teammate James Anderson confirmed that the stoic batsman is unlikely to lose his concentration because of a few pointed remarks in his direction.“I think he quite enjoys it,” Anderson said. Some batsmen are really determined and I think he’s the sort of guy that would relish that battle and really try to get stuck in,” he said.
It is not unknown for fast bowler Anderson to ‘engage’ batsmen verbally himself, but he senses he would not have complained if he had been hit for four like Jadeja. Asked whether he might have reacted badly in such unusual circumstances, he said: “I don’t know. Probably not — because I’d do it if I was the batsman. I think I saw Dhoni laughing about it at one stage, so I don’t think that was the catalyst.
‘Happens in a tough match’
“When we’re in the middle of a tough Test match, a crucial Test match, things are going to get heated from time to time. “Two teams want to win a game of cricket, with the series on the line, so things do inevitably boil over from time to time.”