England’s tour of India: The Indian juggernaut rolls on in the new year

Happy new year! So it’s been over a month since we last posted on the blog. The last post was just after India were on their way to winning the fourth test against England. Predictably, the Indian team won that. And we won the next test match to end up with a 4-0 series win. Then, like the England cricket team, we took a break from the blog over the festive period. Finally, 23 days into January, we kick the 2017 edition of the blog off with a round-up of all that has gone on since we last posted.

Lots to discuss! Read More …

India v England, 4th Test: Day 1 Highlights at Mumbai

Sensational. See-saw. Gripping. What a day of test cricket that was at Mumbai! While India may have already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, England let them know today that they will not be going down without a fight.

Sensational

With a doubt, Keaton Jennings was sensational. Dropped by Nair on 0 at gully (a difficult chance), the 24 year old made the Indians pay with a hundred. While he was the 19th England batsman to score a hundred on debut, we are pretty sure he is the first to get there with a reverse sweep! Along with Haseeb Hameed, Jennings may well the future of English batting. Alistair Cook might soon be under pressure from the young openers.

Watch video – Debut ton for Keaton Jennings 

The other bit of sensational cricket came from India’s skipper Kohli. Kohli is not India’s regular first slip fielder but with Rahane out with injury, someone had to fill in. Watch the video to see how Virat first goes in the wrong direction before recovering quickly to safely pouch England’s dangerman, Joe Root.

Watch video – Kohli’s great catch to dismiss Joe Root.

See-saw

England were in a really strong position at 230-2 and India were looking down the barrell. Jennings and Moeen Ali has just begun to step on the accelerator. As is so often the case in the sub-continent, things changed in a flash. Moeen was out to a top-edged slop sweep and within 2 balls, Jennings was caught in Ashwin’s web at gully. When the leading run-scorer of 2016, Johnny Bairstow was caught in the deep off another top-edged sweep, India had clawed their way back into the game to leave England at a precarious 249-5 with around 10 overs still left in the day’s play.

Gripping

With the fall of Bairstow’s wicket, Buttler joined Stokes at the crease. Ashwin and Jayant were fizzing the ball past both inside and outside edge regularly. Both Stokes and Buttler were being beaten in the flight and off the pitch. Add disconcerting bounce off a good length and India would have hoped to have picked up another couple of wickets before the close of play. Somehow, the two young England batsman lived to fight another day. England ended the day on 288 for 5. Tense stuff.

Watch video –  full highlights for Day 1 of the 4th India v England test from the official BCCI website 

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India v England, Day 1 at Vizag: India sitting pretty

Here is our wrap-up of the first day of the India v England Vizag test.

Similarities to the first test at Rajkot

India ended at a healthy 317/4, including centuries from Pujara and Kohli. After the first day of the Rajkot test, England were quite content with 311/4, including one centurion (Root) and one batsman not out on 99 (Moeen). In both cases, the captain who won the toss chose to bat first.

Pujara picks up the pace

After much criticism of his career strike rate (48.85) and showing lack of intent, Pujara has scored 2 centuries in the first 3 innings of this series, at strike rates of 60.19 and 58.33, noticeably quicker than history would suggest. He has been using his feet beautifully against the spinners. It is worth noting that he was also India’s highest scorer in the series against the Kiwis, though headlines were dominated by the bowlers.

Kohli makes it count

Virat raced to his 14th Test Century alongside Pujara, ending the day on 151*. His first 7 centuries were small in comparison, with his average 100+ score being 109 and the next 6 have averaged 162. His last two 100+ scores have both been double centuries.

India’s opening dilemma continues

Although Rahul came off a stellar patch in domestic cricket, it was yet another failure for the opening partnership. Between Dhawan, Rahul, Gambhir and Vijay, no one pair has really clicked at the top in recent test matches. Kohli and Pujara came together with the score at 22/2 with both openers back in the hut.

Jimmy Anderson returns

Expectations were low given Anderson’s absence with a fractured shoulder since August. Then again, can you ever really write off a fast bowler with nearly 500 test wickets? Replacing Woakes in the side, Anderson led from the front, picking up 3-44 in his 16 overs. Jimmy’s  dismissal of Rahane in the penultimate over the of the day with the new ball was a lesson in swing bowling. With Broad not quite 100%, Anderson will key for England on day 2.

Verdict

At the end of the first day the India v England test at Vizag, India will be much happier than they were after the first day of the first test at Rajkot. The pitch has already begun to show signs of breaking up so India will only want to bat once, and bat big.

Day 1 of the Vizag test belonged to India but there is still work to be done.

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India v England 2nd test, Vizag: Pitch Fever

To a musician, it means ‘the degree of highness or lowness of a tone’. To a physicist, it means ‘steepness of a slope’. To a baseball fan, it means ‘throw’. To a non-cricket fan watching cricket, it means the area on which the sport is played. To a cricket fan, it means something else altogether.

I’m talking, of course, about the pitch. I remember watching cricket with a friend who knew nothing about the game. He seemed pretty confused that the match started with a “Pitch Report”! I don’t believe any other sport does this, but for those of us who have been following cricket all our lives, we can’t fathom a match without a pitch report. Squad composition, set a target or chase, field placements, they all depend on the pitch.

A typical Indian pitch is known to crumble easily; it favours the batsmen early on, and by day 3 is a spinner’s paradise. It’s part of the reason the Ashwin-Jadeja combination has been lethal at home in the past 2 years. We have previously defended pitches which turn earlier than day 3. Rajkot was something else. Read More …

India v England Test Series 2016: An England fan Speaks

The first test of the eagerly anticipated India v England test series starts on 9 November. James Morgan, who runs the fantastic Full Toss blog, gives us an England fan’s perspective. What do you guys think? 

The last time Alastair Cook’s team toured India, England supporters had a rather pleasant surprise. Cook batted beautifully, Kevin Pietersen played a great innings at Mumbai, and Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar spun us to victory with 37 wickets across the four tests. It was an unexpected victory and an extremely sweet one.

Unfortunately, things have gone pear shaped since. Swann fell foul of an elbow injury, and Monty’s career has disintegrated faster than England’s second innings in Dhaka, and Pietersen’s career is deader than a mummified dodo. Alastair Cook will have to have the series of his life (again) for England to be remotely competitive. Read More …