Sports

India v England: fourth Test, day one – live


Key events

42nd over: England 151-5 (Root 41, Foakes 14) Kuldeep Yadav, whose figures in Rajkot don’t tell the story of a match-turning performance on the third morning, replaces Akash Deep. Root gathers another run with a gentle work to leg; that’s your lot. He has 41 from 90 balls, Foakes 14 from 58.

41st over: England 150-5 (Root 40, Foakes 14) A maiden from Jadeja to Foakes. Before lunch the run-rate was 4.63 per over; in the afternoon session it’s 2.26. Root and Foakes have played well, with patience and common sense, but it does feel like there is more to it than that. Either that or I’m in denial about the virtues of old-fashioned Test cricket.

40th over: England 150-5 (Root 40, Foakes 14) It’s hard to explain the contrasting behaviour of the pitch before and after lunch. Root and Foakes have added 38 in 15.5 overs with few alarms, and I don’t really know what else to say.

39th over: England 147-5 (Root 40, Foakes 11) Foakes feels defensively at Jadeja and is beaten. This pair are playing as straight as possible and with soft hands, so it’ll be interesting to see if any edges carry to slip.

38th over: England 146-5 (Root 40, Foakes 10) Root flicks Deep for two, helped by a slight misfield at midwicket, and then slashes a drive behind point for four. That’s England’s first boundary in exactly 100 balls, which sends a very confused message to the new breed of cricket fans.

Deep ends the over by slipping one past Root’s defensive push.

37th over: England 138-5 (Root 33, Foakes 9) What’s going on with this pitch then? It’s been almost benign since lunch. Root can create that illusion when he’s playing well, but Foakes also looks secure in defence. Jadeja finds Foakes’ inside-edge once in that over; everything else hits the middle.

England have scored 28 runs in the last 15 overs.

36th over: England 137-5 (Root 32, Foakes 9) The debutant Akash Deep, who took three wickets in a startling new-ball spell, replaces Ravichandran Ashwin. Foakes survives a hopeful LBW appeal after pushing at a big inducker; it was too high but that was an excellent comeback over from Deep. Any chance of seeing any nerves? Couple of half-trackers?

35th over: England 135-5 (Root 32, Foakes 7) England haven’t hit a boundary in almost 14 overs, which might be a record for the Bazball era. Jadeja hurries through another maiden to Root, who now has 32 from 77 balls. The pitch has been confusingly well-behaved since lunch.

34th over: England 135-5 (Root 32, Foakes 7) Root flicks Ashwin to cow corner for two, which takes him into the thirties for the first time in the series. It’s been an eye-catchingly chaste innings, with nothing resembling a risky or unorthodox stroke.

33rd over: England 132-5 (Root 29, Foakes 7) Make that 20 runs in 8.5 overs – which have been bowled in just over 20 minutes.

32nd over: England 131-5 (Root 28, Foakes 7) The pitch has done less for the bowlers since lunch. There are two possible reasons: the morning moisture has gone, and the ball is getting old. Either way, England have added 19 in 7.5 overs of <i>relative</i> comfort.

31st over: England 129-5 (Root 27, Foakes 6) A maiden from Jadeja to Root, who is finding the middle of the bat, mainly in defence, with greater frequency.

30th over: England 129-5 (Root 27, Foakes 6) Root works a pair of twos off Ashwin, then steals a single on the off side. He’s starting to look relatively – and I can’t italicise that word enough – comfortable, which is a double-edged sword for England. If he can manage risk on this pitch, India’s batters should be able to do the same.

29th over: England 124-5 (Root 22, Foakes 6) A menacing over from Jadeja, everything darted in towards Foakes’ front pad. He defends pretty well, though it does feel like another LBW might be in the post.

28th over: England 123-5 (Root 21, Foakes 6) Root has dealt in soft-handed accumulation throughout this innings. I was going to say ‘low-risk accumulation’ but nothing feels low-risk at the moment. He’s playing well, though, and Foakes has made a busy start at the other end. No boundaries since lunch, just ones and twos.

27th over: England 120-5 (Root 20, Foakes 4) Okay, I need to stop the emails for a bit because Jadeja’s overs are lasting around 90 seconds. In that last one, Foakes took a very tight single to mid-off. Or maybe mid-on, I’m not sure.

“Even I do not get the Bazball hatred from England fans,” writes Rajesh Balasubramanian. “As an India fan, I think Bazball worked really well in this series. It messed with Indian heads in the first Test. India batted too aggressively in their first innings, tried to out-Bazball England and ended up leaving 50-60 runs on the table. They then let England have risk-free runs in their second innings, and then panicked in the chase. Run-outs, dropped catches, scrambled brains were all outcomes from England messing with India. India did not play like the dominant force at home they have been for a decade.

“India is a beast to play against in India. Bazball twinkled out a win by unsettling India. England fans have this narrative that Bazball lost them the third Test. I would argue that it (and a worldie from Pope) won them the first Test. India’s spin prowess is immense, but Bumrah has really turbo-charged this team at home. The second test was all Bumrah. This series is alive and kicking only because England have had this wonderful new approach. I could do without the trash-talking though.”

All very fair points. Maybe I’ cut them too much slack with the trash talking. But it’s the criticism of the cricket that I find most frustrating; it feels like England are expected to make the world’s best omelette without breaking any goddamn eggs.

26th over: England 118-5 (Root 19, Foakes 3) Hang on, I missed the end of Jadeja’s over, which started before lunch. Apologies. Anyway, we are where we are: Jadeja and Ashwin in tandem, bowling overs in the blink of an eye on a day-four pitch.

Ready? Ravichandran Ashwin is about to bowl to Joe Root.

Lunchtime reading

I’m off to grab a coffee; see you in a bit for the propreantepenultimate session of this Test.

“On the hostility towards England, there is the team, which a lot of people enjoy, and the macho trash talk, which most don’t,” says Andrew Hurley. “I’ve never seen anything like Duckett’s comments (the more they get the better, we’ll chase them down, that India were afraid, his comments about Jaiswal etc) ; cricket (still, for now) has something many sports today doesn’t, and this macho, crude, cringeworthy nonsense encourages people to despise these players, which is a strong word, but I think that’s the effect it is having. A belief in an approach is a great, positive thing; reducing cricket to WWF in terms of pre- or post-match comments not so much.”

Yeah, I get that, and some of the comments have been cringeworthy. But I would argue a) they are often gauche or playful rather than macho and b) in the grand scheme of human failings, does a bit of breezy arrogance really merit such opprobrium? I think there’s a thundering lack of empathy. I can’t speak for anyone else but I know I lost the run of myself when I was recognised for the only time in my life*, so goodness knows how I’d deal with being an integral part of a team that has redefined the greatest sporting format in the world. I’m not smart or clear-headed enough to join the dots but I think it’s also related to expectations of masculinity. More than anything,

* There was a second time, a few years later, in the Lexington, when somebody walked up and said: “Excuse me, are you…” – a self-satisfied smile started to form on my face – “Gary Naylor?”

Watch: Ben Stokes’ dismissal

If only he’d planted the front dog and had a wipe across the line.

“Re: England fans who are hostile to Bazball – think I covered that with crusties who hate fun,” says Will Vignoles. “In all seriousness, my theory is that it’s a mix of the usual distrust of the new, a misunderstanding of the whole concept and a sense that by importing white-ball thinking you cheapen Test cricket. Add in the extremely tiresome English cynicism about people being enthusiastic and I think that gets you there.”

Yep, that coverts it. This clip (which contains a lot of swearwords, please don’t have me sacked) also sums it up quite well.

“Morning Rob,” writes Guy Hornsby. “I hope no one’s got tickets for day three. Or perhaps even day two. England have got starts but seeing that ball that got Stokes makes you wonder if this is going to be a bit of a turkey shoot. If England can get up to 200, we’re in the game. But you wonder if the sweep is the best shot on this pitch. I really hope Joe can really dig in. If any pitch needs a fifty from him, it’s this one! I’m rubbing my rabbit’s foot.”

Lunch

That wicket means that will be the last ball of the session. The debutant Akash Deep leads India off after bowling a spectacular spell of 7-0-24-3. The scoreline looks grim but the pitch is already doing all sorts, so England are in this game. I think. The one thing I do know is that it was a blistering and breathless morning session.

WICKET! England 112-5 (Stokes LBW b Jadeja 3)

Ben Stokes walks on an LBW. It was a vile grubber from Jadeja, and the moment he went back it became unplayable.

Stokes smiles wryly as he walks off the field, though the captain in him will be perversely encouraged that a ball has misbehaved that much before lunch on the first day.

24th over: England 112-4 (Root 16, Stokes 3) Root plays out five dot balls from Ashwin. He has 16 from 41 balls and has evidently decided to bat time, even on such a capricious pitch.

“In answer to your question about why there is so much hostility towards England and Bazball, besides the many crusties who hate fun it’s surely that schadenfreude is so difficult to resist,” writes Will Vignoles. “I’m a Bazball apologist but conversely have greatly enjoyed watching India find new and increasingly humiliating ways to fail to win ICC tournaments for example. I’m not proud of it but there we are!”

It’s the level of hostility from England fans that befuddles me.

23rd over: England 111-4 (Root 16, Stokes 2) It’s not even lunch on the first day.

Root is not out! It was bat first, just, so Root survives. Kumar Dharmasena strikes again: he’s been in sensational form in this series.

India review for LBW agianst Root! I reckon this is out. He squeezed it but if it was pad first – and I suspect it was – Root is in abundant bother.

22nd over: England 110-4 (Root 16, Stokes 1) On TNT Sports, Alastair Cook estimates this is a “250 wicket”, so Bairstow’s innings could be vital. But he’ll be thoroughly hacked off that he didn’t make his first fifty of the series.

“Clearly no-one told Akash Deep that his job was to give England much needed relief from Bumrah’s menace,” writes Brian Withington. “Wonderful opening spell.”

I suppose it’s fair enough that a man called Deep should highlight the depth of Indian cricket. With everyone fit, this could be their 2nd XI, and I’m almost certainly missing somebody: Shaw, Sudharsan, Patidar, Iyer, Sarfaraz, Pandya, Jurel, Axar, Kuldeep, Deep, Siraj.

WICKET! England 109-4 (Bairstow LBW b Ashwin 38)

Yep, it pitched in line and the rest was a formality. Bairstow goes after a bristling cameo of 38 from 35 balls, and Ravichandran Ashwin has his 502nd Test wicket. I’m not sure the sweep is the best shot on this pitch, and it’s a real shame because Bairstow was playing excellently.

India review for LBW against Bairstow! This is close. He missed a sweep at Ashwin, bowling round the wicket. If it pitched on, and I reckon it did, he’s in trouble.

21st over: England 105-3 (Root 16, Bairstow 34) Jadeja beats both batters with terrific deliveries. I thought Bairstow had been dropped by Jurel – the reaction suggested as much – but there was nothing on UltraEdge.

Root lands a counter-punch to end the over, cutting for four with excellent placement. This is exhilarating stuff.

20th over: England 100-3 (Root 12, Bairstow 33) The new bowler Ravichandran Ashwin is blasted over midwicket for six by Bairstow, who is looking dangerous and has raced to 33 from 31 balls. You can usually gauge Bairstow’s mood and intent by the ferocity with which he chews his gum after hitting a boundary; he was chomping like a beauty after that shot.

19th over: England 89-3 (Root 11, Bairstow 23) Root moves into double figures with a deft steer for four off Jadedja. England are scoring at 4.68 per over, which takes a deal of courage after the week they’ve had on and off the field.

18th over: England 83-3 (Root 6, Bairstow 22) Heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Jonny. He rushes into the twenties with successive boundaries off Siraj, a smear down the ground that Inspector Gadget would have struggled to catch and a brusque, beautifully placed drive between extra cover and mid-off. He’s in the mood.

Meanwhile, this is how to start a Test career.

17th over: England 71-3 (Root 5, Bairstow 11) Root is beaten by another menacing delivery from Jadeja. It turned and also kept a bit low, which the Indian commentators think will be a problem as the match progresses, especially for players who sweep.

“Watching that Root LBW appeal first ball,” says Saurya Chakraborty. “I had a thought – what do you reckon Scyld Berry would have written if he was out LBW first ball trying a reverse scoop? I do wonder if Bazball inspires journos to go as hard as the batters do…

“By the way, I have been searching for a headline which puns on this, but the Hindi word baazi means ‘gamble’, and so baazi-ball would be a perfect Hinglish term for Bazball.”

Bhajji-ball was great fun in 2001 as well. As for Scyld, I didn’t agree with his assessment but if anyone is qualified to make a statement like that, it’s him.

16th over: England 71-3 (Root 5, Bairstow 11) Siraj replaces Deep, who bowled a majestic spell of 7-0-24-3. His length was perfect, just full of good, and he moved the ball sharply back into the right-handers.

Bairstow gets his first boundary, opening the face to slash Siraj well wide of gully. A couple of inside-edges betray his modest recent form.

15th over: England 67-3 (Root 5, Bairstow 7) Oof. Jadeja beats Bairstow with his first jaffa of the day, darted in fron round the wicket before spitting away. Bairstow’s body language suggests a man who wants a piece of Gilbert Jessop, or at least a 35-ball 55, but it’s easier said than done.

“Wow,” says Andrew Crossley. “(Sorry I’ve nothing more interesting than that to say, but it’s an electric debut).”

There have been loads of great bowling debuts, for example Dominic Cork in 1995, but I can’t think of too many first spells to compare with this, particularly with the new ball. From memory Richard Johnson started his Test career with a spell of 8-3-18-5 at Durham in 2003, but that was against a weakened Zimbabwe.

14th over: England 64-3 (Root 5, Bairstow 4)

13th over: England 60-3 (Root 4, Bairstow 1) A quiet over from Jadeja, who at the moment is the supporting act for a debutant. By the way Root has started quite encouragingly.

12th over: England 57-3 (Root 2, Bairstow 0) Deep bowls the last ball of his sixth over after the drinks break. Bairstow, on the walk, defends.

The depth in Indian cricket is terrifying. We haven’t seen the like since 1994-95, when Australia A had a top six of Hayden, Blewett, Martyn, Bevan, Langer and Ponting. Australia A.

Drinks

Crawley has a word with Jonny Bairstow as he walks off the field, presumably telling him to give it some humpty. Crawley made a run-a-ball 42 that was scratchy at times, dominant at others. Those runs feel more valuable with every passing wicket over.

WICKET! England 57-3 (Crawley b Deep 42)

Crawley whips a no-ball from Deep handsomely over midwicket for four. A Crawley cameo on a dodgy pitch? We’ve been here before.

But we haven’t seen many new-ball spells like this from a debutant! Deep has taken his third wicket, bowling Crawley with a jaffa that goes through the gate and trims the bails. Crawley was cut in half and ended up on his haunches.

There are some nervous looks, just in case it’s another no-ball, but Rod Tucker soon gives him the good news. This is magnificent stuff!





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