India vs England: Bragging rights stay with gritty visitors head of Vizag Test
England walked away with bragging rights in a Test match that ended in an expected draw at Rajkot; visitors were able to put the 'end of Test match pressure' on India who had to tread a fine line in playing for a draw
Chris Woakes celebrates after dismissing Indian opener Gautam Gambhir for nought (right) in Rajkot yesterday. Pic/AFP
England walked away with bragging rights in a Test match that ended in an expected draw at Rajkot yesterday. The visitors were able to put the 'end of Test match pressure' on India who had to tread a fine line in playing for a draw.
Haseeb Hameed, the 19-year-old from Lancashire, has been an interesting selection for England. With only 20 first-class games and four first-class tons, one would have seen his potential, but would have liked to give him some more time in domestic cricket.
The search for stability to partner captain Alastair Cook prompted his selection and he looked the part. His mental strength as a pedigreed opening batsman is what stood out. His ability to shut his mind out from the ball gone by and focus on what's coming, appeared impressive.
Haseeb's selection is a futuristic one that will give English cricket hope. At 19, he carries very little baggage, is able to work on his game with an uncluttered mind. He needs to build on his Rajkot display.
Captain Cook is now nicknamed by many as Master Chef in India. Not for his culinary skills, but for his love for the Indian attack over the years. In the process, he did go past Sir Donald Bradman's Test century tally of 29. Cook is an old-fashioned Test batsman and if one loves Test cricket, one cannot help but admire his approach to constructing an innings.
The 180-run opening partnership between Cook and Hameed in the second innings made it possible for England to give India a few awkward moments by making them bat to save the match. Batting on a crumbling pitch with the possibility of saving a Test match can be gawky. Gautam Gambhir's tenure at the crease, not so much for the runs, but his approach, is worrying for him and India. Sadly, he hasn't been able to infuse too much confidence in himself in this Test. He will need a bit of luck and a lot of adjustments in the next Test to be able to play the innings which could be the defining one of his career.
Cheteshwar Pujara's second innings dismissal was bizarre. Asking for a review must be assisted by your batting partner. Watching Murali Vijay turn away when Pujara was adjudged leg before gave one the feeling that the non-striker Vijay agreed with the decision. One needs to think on his feet to be able to help his partner in situations like a DRS review.
The inputs and vigilance of the non-striker in the DRS is critical and a learning for a team that is new to the system. India have much to learn from the use of DRS. I sense Vijay, on this occasion, let Pujara down. It was admirable to see Virat Kohli in a comparatively new role. One doesn't see him in a match-saving role often. The precarious situation of his team ensured he played that role and one must confess that he didn't look out of character while doing so.
Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja will need to find a method in their line to be able to improve on their Test matches performances. The curators at Visakhapatnam (the home of the chairman of selectors MSK Prasad) will have to make a more home-friendly pitch, or not make one in case they need to keep it drier.
The Indian fielders will have to be less hospitable and hold on to the catches offered by the opposition. The danger in doctoring pitches is that it may not induce a home advantage. Imagine Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and Zafar Ansari bowling on a fourth-innings pitch. Do India believe they can bowl better than England on a home pitches?
India will have to keep that in mind knowing the flip side of any orchestrated decision.
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