The English bowlers looked impressive on Day 2…..
Let’s give England bowlers their due credit for bowling out India for 329 on the best batting wicket of this series so far. Due to the surface and a disciplined effort by some of the Indian batsmen, the task was not as straightforward as we had seen on the previous occasions of this series. In fact, at one point on Day 1, the visitors were 241 for 3 as Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were in full flow. But the home bowlers did get their act together following some initial flaws and in the end dragged the advantage towards them.
In this piece we will analyse how quickly the English bowling rectified the early mistakes and produced commendable effort, which can very well be the match as well as series defining.
A greener surface, overcast conditions and a struggling Indian batting line-up – on Saturday morning, when Joe Root invited Kohli’s men to bat first, someone like James Anderson or Stuart Broad must have been licking their lips. Perhaps the memories of Broad running through the Aussie batting line-up back in 2015 is still fresh in their camp. But it took just an hour’s play to change this perception.
At the first drink’s break, India were 43 for no loss. By that time England realised that the conditions were not as helpful as it was at Lord’s or even at Edgbaston. The surface seemed on the slower side and the batsmen got a lot more time to adjust against the sideways movement of the ball compared to the previous occasions.
Though Michael Holding felt with the new ball, both Broad and Anderson did not make the batsmen play enough.
“There were far too many deliveries Indians left alone. Don’t think that was the bowling plan England had in mind,” the former West Indian legend, who is in the Sky Sports commentary panel, told the author during a brief chat.
However, in recent years Trent Bridge has shown more old ball swing than any other English venue. And after the first hour, Chris Woakes, in his first spell literally made the ball talk. He pulled the length back a little. They started to hit the in-between length and forced the batsmen to play. And the ploy worked. From 60 for no loss, India were 82 for 3 at Lunch.
Post Lunch the sun came out and the conditions improved significantly for batting. Both Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane took advantage of that. They play positive cricket but in hindsight, the bowling was wayward at that phase. A rusty Ben Stokes along with the leg-spin of Adil Rashid did allow Indian batsmen to get away for a while. In that session, India scored 107 runs without losing a wicket.
That was the only phase during the Indian innings, when England bowlers failed to create enough wicket-taking opportunities and at the end of day’s play, Woakes admitted that.
“The ball moved around pretty much all day there was probably a period through the middle when it didn’t do quite as much when the sun was out, and they capitalized on that. I think we bowled reasonably well, and they combated it pretty well. Throughout that middle period, we struggled to create a chance.”
Well, the 159-run stand between Kohli and Rahane pegged England back a little, soon but the bowlers did not lose their composure. That is why they were successful to remove both the set batsmen before the second new ball, which has to be the turning point.
Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant did look good for a while but against the second new ball, their survival was always under the scanner. In the very last ball of the day Anderson got rid of Pandya and on a cloudy Day 2 morning debutant Pant too did not last long. In fact, resuming from their overnight score of 307 for 6, the Indian innings was folded within 47 balls on Sunday.
England bowlers took the last five wickets for just 22 runs and made a strong comeback in this crucial do-or-die fixture.