“It was never hard for the likes of Root, Stokes, or Bairstow to go back to the basics and play with a straight bat, use the feet, trust the defence and occupy the crease. But what they really did was a below-par display of batsmanship, which set a poor example for those, who look up to such stars and learn”

 

So, the third Test between India and England at the biggest cricket stadium in the world lasted less than two days and is now the seventh shortest completed Test match and the first since 1935.

Without a doubt, it was a bad advertisement for Test cricket and the kind of Bunsen burner the curators prepared for this Test at Ahmedabad, till, now, it has been crucified – sadly, one important subject would be overshadowed and which is the display of poor technique by the batsmen on this Test. Again, one must not forget, the same was evident in the second Test as well.

In the last one and a half days of fascinating cricket played with the pink ball, 30 wickets tumbled at the cost of just 287 runs in more than 140 overs. 387-run is the lowest match aggregate in a completed Test match in Asia. The previous lowest was the 2002 Test between Pakistan and Australia at Sharjah (422 runs). The Ahmedabad Test is also the lowest aggregated Test in the last 74 years.

Now this is freakish cricket – blame the track, fine, you are entitled to give your opinion and bash the deck, but before you exhibit your democratic rights, don’t forget to ask yourself whether the batsmen from both sides batted sensibly or not.

Just have a look at the dismissals of the top six English batters in the first innings.

Dom Sibley was caught at the crease and poked at the ball from Ishant Sharma – was that poke necessary? It could have been avoided easily. Jonny Bairstow was undone not by the turn, rather, the straighter one from Axar Patel, which demanded solidity in defence and astute footwork – Bairstow was sloppy in both.

Joe Root and Zak Crawley were grafting a partnership and the bat started to come down straight, but then came the fuller-one from Ravichandran Ashwin, which required coming forward rather than back. The result was leg before wicket.

Now, both the deliveries from Ashwin and Patel did not receive any assistance from the deck – but it was the faulty technique of Bairstow and Root that led to their downfall.

Crawley, who looked set and also witnessed the dismissal of Bairstow against the straighter ones of Patel, committed the same mistake by trying to play for the turn against the similar delivery – the track did nothing. The focus was poor.

Ollie Pope was castled courtesy of a delivery from Ashwin which he played down the wrong line – again, nothing wrong with the deck.

Patel dished out a length ball against which the feet of Ben Stokes did not move at all – hit the pad and the finger went up.

Well, the track cannot be blamed for this.

When the Indians came out to bat, Jack Leach had the ball straightened enough, and guess what, batsmen like Virat Kohli and Ajikya Rahane played it with a horizontal bat – quite a surprising choice of shots from the batsmen, who are well known for their authority against spin bowling. Whereas, Rohit Sharma, who was playing with a straight bat went for the slog-sweep for nothing, and panic set in the Indian batting line-up, who failed to notch-up 150.

Leach had the breakthroughs and Joe Root finished the rest by bagging five wickets in one of the most memorable spells ever bowled by an English skipper in the subcontinent. But one must not forget, the poor shot selection of the Indian lower-middle-order.

I am sorry; I can’t blame the track here as well.

England came out to bat after a manic session only to prolong the manic by dishing out the poor exhibition of technique and temperament.

Crawley slid back to another wicket-to-wicket delivery by Patel – only Crawley’s mind would be able to decipher what was he thinking while playing the first ball of the innings – did the pitch play any role?

Not at all!

Out came Bairstow, on a pair, went for a sweep shot against the first delivery he faced! Why? God, dam, why? At least, watch the ball, defend it and occupy the crease dear! Patel and his teammate’s vociferous appeal let the on-field umpire raise his finger but DRS gave Bairstow another opportunity, which he wasted it by leaving a big gap between bat and pad against another straighter one.

Blame the technique here!

Sibley attempted a massive wipe across the line against Ashwin – why did he do that for?

Edged and gone! And don’t blame the track here!

Stokes seemed reorganized himself after the meek surrender in the first innings, but on 25, another non-spinner skipped into his planted front foot – it was the 11th time Stokes had been dismissed by Ashwin, and it was a body blow for England’s hopes of a 100-plus lead.

Then Root attempted to play for the turn against those which skid through – similar mistake!

England were bundled out for 81 – the second-lowest Test total by any team against India.

South Africa’s total of 79 in the first innings of the 2015 Nagpur Test still remains the lowest Test total against India. England’s previous lowest Test total against India was 101, way back in 1971 at The Oval.

193 runs had been scored by England across both innings.

This is the first instance of a team being bundled out twice in a Test match in India with an aggregate of less than 200 runs. The previous lowest was 212 runs that were made by India and Afghanistan – against Australia and India respectively.

This was also just the second Test since 1904 for England where they were bowled out twice in a Test with an aggregate lower than 193 runs. England were all-out for 93 and 82 respectively against New Zealand in Christchurch, 1984.

The manner of the above-mentioned dismissals can hardly blame the pitch, which was never for 287 runs in total, rather, a team could score around 250-300 if batted sensibly enough.

Appropriate use of the feet and playing with a straight was the order of the day as Cricviz said, “35% of the boundaries against spin in this Test have been in the V. That’s the fourth highest for a Test in India over the last five years. Boundaries are coming when players get to the pitch, and hit straight.”

It was never hard for the likes of Root, Stokes, or Bairstow to go back to the basics and play with a straight bat, use the feet, trust the defence and occupy the crease. But what they really did was a below-par display of batsmanship, which set a poor example for those, who look up to such stars and learn.

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