Like Hyderabad, the Visakhapatnam Test is also set for a cracking finish. England struck early on the morning of Day 3, courtesy of James Anderson’s genius. Shubman Gill, with a hundred that reinstated faith in his batsmanship at the Test level, brought India back into the game. However, England stayed patient, and India made mistakes, as has been the narrative in the series.
As things stand, England need 399 to go 2-0 up in the series. No team has chased that many in India, but with the way England batted and have already razed off 67 from the deficit with only one wicket lost, nothing can be taken for granted. The pitch hasn’t deteriorated as expected, and Day 4 could be the final day of this Test.
A look at the major highlights of the day:
Gill’s control factor
The test couldn't have been sterner for Gill this morning. He walked out to bat with Anderson on song at a stage where he is most dangerous - swinging the new ball in the early morning conditions. Anderson has dismissed him five times, the most by any bowler in Test cricket.
Gill survived some close calls but once Anderson was out of the attack, he was a different batter, scoring freely against spinners with his footwork and control.
Control has been a vital factor in Gill’s career. The right-hander has seven 50+ scores in Test cricket now; on six occasions, he had a control of over 90%. Clearly, he looks like a million dollars when he is for a long stay at the crease.
No 100-run stands
Both of India’s innings in this Test have been carried by one batter. Jaiswal scored 209 in the first innings, after which Gill was the best with 34. In the second innings, Axar Patel was the second-highest scorer for India with 45 after Gill’s 104.
India have had 11 half-century partnerships without extending a single one beyond the 100-run mark. Only in 1986, against the same team, they had more 50-run stands without converting one (13) in a series.
As a result of batters getting their eye in and getting out, they have left runs out in the middle. It happened in the first innings in Hyderabad and both innings in Vizag.
Iyer fails to convert another start
Shreyas Iyer averages 17 in his last 12 Test innings since 2023. Four times he has failed to convert starts, i.e., he played over 50 deliveries and threw his wicket. There are another two innings where he was dismissed after playing more than 25 balls.
Iyer vs short balls has been a never-dying discourse. However, digging deeper reveals that he has struggled to cope with spinners at home. Since 2023, he averages only 18.9 versus spin in India.
A culmination of all these factors has affected Iyer’s numbers in this series. He averages 26 in this series with 51.3 balls per dismissal. And all four dismissals have come against spin. If Virat Kohli returns for the third Test, Iyer is one of the front runners to lose his spot.
India missing Pant the most?
Indian wicket-keepers since 2022 in Tests:
Rishabh Pant: Inns - 12, Runs - 680, Average - 61.8, Strike rate - 90.9, 50s/100s - 4/2
Others (3): Inns - 18, Runs - 412, Average - 27.5, Strike rate - 58.7, 50s/100s - 1/1
Out of all the senior players unavailable for the series, it is probably Rishabh Pant that India have missed the most. In his absence, India have not only lacked a consistent batter but have also missed a batter with an innate ability to take down spinners.
KS Bharat’s returns have highlighted it further. In four innings, Bharat has managed only 92 runs at a strike rate of 48.2. In addition, he has fumbled a few deliveries behind the stumps too.
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