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Root’s sanity saves Bazball from ‘Deep’ trouble in Ranchi

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Last updated on 23 Feb 2024 | 01:30 PM
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Root’s sanity saves Bazball from ‘Deep’ trouble in Ranchi

It was yet another day on this tour where Bazball’s ethos and playstyle were ripped apart, and ultimately were saved by Root's sanity

Siraj’s ordinary start in Ranchi

With India resting Jasprit Bumrah, a lot of hope was pinned on the shoulders of Mohammed Siraj. But he started the innings in the worst possible fashion, spraying all over against Zak Crawley, who pummelled 18 runs off his fourth over of the innings. 

Four, four, four and a massive six. 

25% of the balls from Siraj in that first spell were full, with four boundaries. In contrast, there was Akash Deep, who, playing his first Test, didn’t err in his line and length with a spell for the ages on his Test debut. 

Also Read: Akash Deep's memorable maiden spell rocks back England in Ranchi

However, it wasn’t the only thing that Siraj would be remembered for in the day. Later on, in his third spell, the right-arm pacer made a strong comeback, getting the ball to tail in late when he dismissed Ben Foakes and Tom Hartley. 

In both the dismissals, there was a pattern. The ball tailed late, and if not for his showing in the third spell, it might have turned out to be a disastrous day for Siraj. 

Bairstow’s dismissals, a pattern against spin

Jonny Bairstow attempts the sweep, annnnnd he’s gone

How many times have you seen that happen? Chances are that this dismissal might feel like deja vu. After getting himself set on a surface that didn’t have anything monstrous, Bairstow got out in the most trivial manner, missing a straight delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin

Bairstow has gotten out twice in the series sweeping, showing a pattern behind his dismissals. That’s not it. If you look into it, Bairstow has been dismissed five times against spinners in the tour and has an average of just 20.8. 

If you look at the numbers further, his false-shot percentage (21.3) is the third-most for any batter in the series, only behind Srikar Bharat and Ollie Pope. Yet again, it was spin which resulted in his undoing. 

Joe continues to be ROOTed against India

10th Test century against India, the third-most runs against India by a visiting batter, a control percentage of over 90 in Ranchi, Joe Root has continued to topple India like no other batter has in the history of Test cricket. Surprisingly, Joe returned to his roots and played a knock that didn’t represent the ethos of Bazball. The knock wasn’t at any point attacking, and it was certainly not entertaining. But what it was is mightily effective. That was lacking from Root’s batting here in this series against India. 

It almost felt like he was walking out in a fidgety fashion against Jasprit Bumrah, but it wasn’t. It might be Root’s third slowest-ever Test century, but in all manners, it was EFFECTIVE!! In this innings, Root has played with 92.9% of control. In the Bazball era, where he has batted 30+ balls, in no other innings as he batted with better control than this.

That isn’t just it. The next point might even shock you. 

Also Read: Foakes, Root go the perfect anti-Bazball route

In Tests since 2011, among 35 centuries by a visiting batter against India, only three have had a better control percentage than Root (92.5%). Cameron Green (114 with 95.3%) in 2023 in Ahmedabad, Ian Bell (116* with 93.1%) in 2012 in Nagpur, and Usman Khawaja (180 with 92.9%) in 2023 in Ahmedabad. 

Ollie Robinson’s inclusion vindicated? 

England didn’t stick with Mark Wood. That could have easily caused a lot of chaos, except there was a quality back-up in the form of Ollie Robinson

What the Three Lions realised in their crushing defeat in Rajkot was that they might need another control bowler alongside James Anderson, and that’s really where Robinson walks into the setup. But that’s where the tricky part was for England. 

Without Rehan Ahmed, they needed someone to strengthen and deepen their batting unit, which was another reason Robinson was picked. And, he answered that in fine fashion when he showed the Indian bowlers his long leavers. 

Robinson is unbeaten on 31 off 60 balls, with four boundaries and a six, showing great resilience alongside Root to take England’s score past the 300-run mark. 

Ravichandran Ashwin - a struggle or?

Barring the Bairstow wicket, it is almost impossible not to see Ravichandran Ashwin’s struggle at the crease. Ashwin conceded runs at 3.80 an over, with just one wicket in the entire clash. Yet again, it isn’t an isolated incident. 

Ironically, all three of Ashwin’s struggles at home have been against England. In 2012, 2016/17, and 2024,  the off-spinner ended up with an average of well over 30. In this series, the off-spinner has been struggling, with 12 wickets and an average of 38.8. 

Ashwin might well make a strong comeback in the fifth Test in Dharamshala, but as it stands, England might have just conquered their biggest worry.

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