The cool, calm and composed KL Rahul at one end and a rampaging 39-year-old James Anderson on the other. These two players were the highlights of the second day filled with high drama. While he lasted, Rohit Sharma looked in perfect harmony with the conditions. But, his strength turned out to be his weakness and it was a third time when the opposition pacers lured him into a trap. Since he has started to open, Rohit has a strike rate of 155.6 against the short ball. But, he has been dismissed thrice at an average of 18.7 while playing his favorite pull shot. Kagiso Rabada, Pat Cummins and now Ollie Robinson have gotten him out once each in a dismissal of a similar kind.
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Rohit fell at the stroke of lunch. What followed next, has nearly spoiled the whole plan of India getting a big lead. The three most experienced batsmen of India, fell for scores of five or less before the rain arrived.
With two players of different playing styles but a similar mindset at the crease, India’s game plan for day three is clear. Rahul will continue to play the way he has been and anchor the innings from one end. Rishabh Pant will be the aggressor and try to put the bowlers off. To add a pointer in India’s favor, the last time these two batsmen were at the crease together, they posted a 204-run partnership in 2018 at The Oval. Rahul scored a magnificent 149 and Pant had 114 runs to his name. In the eight balls Pant faced this innings, he has already tried a few expansive shots and those are not going to stop.
HOW TO STOP RISHABH PANT?
Rahul seems to be settled and has got a crux of the conditions. The bigger threat for England would be Pant. If he stays for even a session, he can change the dynamics of the game and hand India an upper hand again. To prevent that, England pacers should be looking to bowl the fifth stump line or a bit wider. His attacking instinct is going to bring in the error and that is what the pacers have tried against him in the overseas tours. 11 out of Pant’s 15 dismissals against pace in away tours have been in that line around the fifth stump or wider.
With respect to lengths, Pant has a good strike rate on a fuller length ball. But, it has also been an opportunity for the right arm pacers. Pant has an average of 23.8 against fuller length balls and 24 against length deliveries against the right-arm pacers. In contrast, he has been strong against anything short.
WHY IS PANT DANGEROUS?
In contrast to his image, Pant has been a smart innings builder. He starts slow, gauging the conditions, but once he gets his eye in he is unstoppable. In his career, Pant has scored at a strike rate of 61.2 for his first 50 runs. But, the danger lies after he gets past his fifty. In runs range between 51-100, Pant scores at 101.1 and between 101-150, he has a strike rate of 90.8. However, most of his dismissals have been before the 50-run mark. Nevertheless, picking up Pant as early as possible would be the main agenda for the England bowlers. Even though the surface at Nottingham is a good one to bat in the third innings, England will be wary of the lead considering their batting line-up.
All-in-all, day three promises to be enthralling if not for the elements. The weather in Nottingham looks pale for Friday as well. The forecast predicts 90 percent chance of precipitation and showers throughout the day. A session and a half have already been lost to rain in this Test match on day two. There is a huge chance of sessions washing out on the third day as well.