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Worth going miles to see

Updated on: 18 February,2024 07:44 AM IST  |  Rajkot
Sunil Gavaskar |

Whatever the result, England are rewriting the approach to Test match batting and showing how exciting and thrilling it can be

Worth going miles to see

England’s Ben Duckett en route his 153 in the third Test against India at the Niranjan Shah Stadium in Rajkot on Friday. Pic/AFP

Sunil GavaskarWhat a pleasure it is to watch this England team. The batting approach is so refreshing and some of the shots are simply breathtaking. The Indian batting in contrast, while very good in patches, meanders along at other times and the inability of making the starts that the batters are getting convert into big runs, is costing the team at least 150 runs in every innings. The boundaries keep flowing from the English batters, bats and the Indian bowlers look perplexed as to how to counter it.

Virat Kohli not being available, KL Rahul’s injury woes resurfacing and the indifferent form of the skipper Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill at the start of the series, may well have forced the curators to prepare firmer pitches than on earlier occasions, where the turn was much more and the ball came on to the bat a bit slowly. The pitches for the three Tests seen so far have had a lot more carry and a bit more bounce too. The English batters have relished that and been able to play a lot more freely. More crucially, the approach has been different as there’s hardly any poking and prodding with hard hands as was seen on earlier tours.

Indian spinners thrown off

The Indian spinners have been thrown off by the new attitude and approach of the English batters who are using the reverse sweep to great effect. Previous teams that came to India used the orthodox sweep as the ‘get out of jail’ shot and fell into the trap as the top edge wasn’t too far away and the danger of being Leg Before Wicket was always there. The use of the reverse sweep and the lack of turn and bounce on the pitches has neutralised India’s spinners and they have struggled to contain the opposition. That Jasprit Bumrah is the main dangerman tells you the effectiveness or lack of, of the Indian spinners. For England too, the new ball bowlers Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood have looked far more threatening than the spinners though Tom Hartley’s haul of nine wickets on his Test debut secured for England a victory that looked impossible after India had posted a 400-plus score in the first innings. That win has given the England team even more belief that they can be victorious on this tour. By the time this column comes out, the third Test match will have moved forward a fair bit and more than anything else, the result will depend more on how the Indian batters bat in the second innings when there could well be more turn for the spinners than has been seen so far at Rajkot. Whatever the result, this England batting is worth going miles to see. They are rewriting the approach to Test match batting and showing how exciting and thrilling it can be.

Also Read: Wah, Jaiswal!

Better late than never 

It was good to see the Indian team wear black armbands on Day Three of the Test match to respect the memory of Dattajirao Gaekwad who had passed away a couple of days before the Rajkot Test match began. Better late than never. Dattajirao was captain of the Indian team that toured England in 1959.  The Australian team, even if a relative of a player passes away, the whole team wears a black armband to show solidarity with their teammate. This bonding is incredible and one of the reasons why Australian teams have always been close units.

Congratulations to Ravichandran Ashwin on capturing his 500th Test wicket. What a tremendous cricketer he has been. One of the finest thinkers in the game and always willing to try something new and different, be it a run-up, delivery action and of course, deliveries to bamboozle the batter. He should have been honoured with the India captaincy a couple of years back when there were two India teams playing around the same time. Well done, Ashwin, and wish you many more wickets, newer deliveries and different actions in the future.

Professional Management Group

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