Ollie Pope continues to disappoint at this level
After missing the last three Ashes Tests due to injury, England opted to draft Ollie Pope straight into the starting XI. The England management rate Pope very highly and have unequivocally backed him in the past two years.
However, his returns have not done justice to the backing and hype he's received. With the 1(11) today, Pope's average has dropped to 33.92 after 39 Tests.
He's now averaging 18.81 against India in 16 innings (17.11 in 9 innings in India) and his average across Tests against India and Australia reads an eye-watering 17.61 in 26 innings. This includes Tests at home against both the said opponents.
Today, he walked in on the back of a very good platform set by the openers (55/1) but looked nervy, jittery and clueless for the entirety of his 11-ball stay.
In the first session, the right-hander had a false shot percentage of 36.3%, which was by some distance the highest among all England batters. He eventually got out in tame fashion, prodding at a delivery that turned away.
The tide needs to turn pretty quickly for Pope if he is to become a force to be reckoned with, at this level.
Could India have started with spin from one end? (new ball)
As is the norm when they bowl first at home, India started with pace from both ends and, in fact, bowled pace exclusively for the 8 overs of the innings. However, in hindsight, one wonders if the hosts could have bowled spin from one end, especially considering the two openers’ susceptibility against slower bowling.
On the day, both Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley fell within 7 overs of spin being introduced, but, by then, they’d already added 50+ runs together. The pair had uncomfortable moments against pace, but ultimately were able to score freely. They were further aided by an off-spell from Mohammed Siraj, who strayed too full too often.
Ravindra Jadeja could have been held back but there was a good case to start with Ravichandran Ashwin, who prior to this game had dismissed Duckett 4/4 times at an average of 5.00. As it turned out, it took Ashwin only 8 balls to send Duckett back to the hut.
Every run is valuable on bowler-friendly surfaces. Which is precisely why you wonder if India missed a trick by letting England add 40+ runs without facing a single ball of spin.
Sweep shot results in the undoing of Root
Prior to this Test, in his ‘notes for Bazball’ article, Anirudh Kasargod had written why sweeping is a strict no-no on these wickets against Indian spinners. Well, on the day, Root learnt this particular lesson the hard way.
In all, Root attempted eight sweeps. He was lucky to get away with his first few sweeps, for there were a couple of close shaves. This was reason enough for England’s talisman to put away the sweep shot.
However, he reluctantly kept sweeping and eventually paid the price, top-edging a delivery from Axar to short fine-leg.
As it turned out, Root had only a control percentage of 50% while playing the sweep shot. In contrast, he had a control percentage of close to 80% while playing other strokes.
Perhaps this will serve as a lesson for the right-hander, to put away the sweep shot on tracks like these.
India falter with the ball versus the tail (and Stokes)
A big reason for India’s dominance at home is their ruthless efficiency with the ball. When they sense blood, they pounce and they usually run through opponents. At 155/7, it looked like the hosts would bowl England out under 200 easily, but in a plot twist that not many saw coming, England ended up with 246, adding a whopping 91 runs for the last three wickets.
It is one thing falling prey to a Stokes masterclass, but, between them, the trio of Rehan Ahmed, Mark Wood and debutant Tom Hartley amassed a mammoth 47 runs.
The bowling, at times, was a bit ordinary, but more culpable was the captaincy. It was far too easy for England to rotate strike, and Stokes, in particular, toyed with the field and retained strike without having to work hard.
It speaks volumes that the 91 runs India conceded for the last three wickets today was the second-most they’ve conceded (for the final three wickets) since 2020. The only game in which they conceded more was against Australia in Ahmedabad last year, and that came on a flat pancake, as opposed to the turner today in Hyderabad.
Jaiswal’s onslaught makes a mockery of England’s struggles
The 246 England posted looked like a very competitive total at the end of their innings. It may still turn out to be a very good total on what’s far from a batter-friendly surface.
However, in the 70 balls he batted, Yashasvi Jaiswal made a mockery of England’s ‘struggles’, and unleashed a Warner-esque onslaught that left the visitors stunned.
Batting in Tests is all about sensing the moment, and so when Stokes opened the bowling with debutant Tom Hartley, Jaiswal realized that there was a golden opportunity for him to get India ahead in the contest by taking apart the youngster.
Jaiswal hit two sixes in Hartley’s very first over in Test cricket and those two blows set the tone for the rest of the day. Hartley’s confidence got shattered, and Jaiswal used this to his advantage in the two hours that followed.
The left-hander smashed 70 runs on Day 1, and remarkably, a whopping 63% of the runs he scored on the day came against a rattled Hartley, who simply was unable to get his lines and lengths right against the left-hander.
After being bowled out for 246 in the third session, England would have hoped to take 2-3 Indian wickets and keep them to a score of 70 odd, but they will begin the second day just 127 runs ahead, still needing to take nine more Indian wickets.
The power of Jaizball.
England's persistent bowling plans that pinned India down in Ranchi
Sarfaraz Khan's game against spin makes him a must in home Tests
England die by the sword in Jadeja’s land as sweep triggers their downfall
When Bazball proved to be too costly for England bowlers
Rohit makes a blunder of not bowling Ashwin early to Duckett
Jadeja's another rescue act, Root not taking wickets, and more
IND suffer first 100+run lead home loss as Pope & Hartley script history
Ollie Pope’s knock of a lifetime, Bumrah's GOATed spell & more
Leach’s puzzling usage, Gill’s struggles, ENG spinners’ horror day out & more