India v England commentary
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Last Updated: 16/12/12 11:02am
An excellent day for England. They needed to avoid calamity and have done so thanks mainly to Trott, Compton, Bell and India's inexplicable decision to waste the first session of the day. England lead by 165 runs; with seven wickets in hand and only 90 overs remaining it's going to take an astonishing morning session for India to stay in this game. The new ball is only an over away, though. One tiny, little straw for India to clutch at.
Bell plays out a maiden from Ojha, and that's that for day four of this Test match.Trott works Jadeja into the legside for two runs as another over ticks by. The small window of opportunity that opened for India when Pietersen was dismissed has been slowly and carefully closed by this Warwickshire pair.Bell plays out a maiden over from Ojha. Probably 12 deliveries left today; if these two survive them then it's going to be very close to job done.Poor over from Ashwin. Constantly a yard too short, which allows Bell and Trott to work him away for singles regardless of line. Trott does even better with the final ball of the over, punching it through midwicket for four. England's lead now up to 163, which is already well into the territory where an Indian victory would not be a formality even if the last seven wickets fell for nothing.Trott plays out a maiden from Chawla. In theory just one more over today, but there'll be time for three or four more.The batting equivalent of trolling from Bell here as Dhoni moves slip to silly-point and England's number five promptly nicks Ashwin for four.Loose shot from Trott, looking to work Chawla into the legside and getting a Root-esque leading edge but this time it doesn't carry back to the bowler. Steam starting to emit from Indian ears out there. Trott does have the ability to really rile up opponents seemingly by just being there. It's a wonderful gift.Lovely stuff. Proper needle out there and now Ashwin stops in his delivery stride to warn Trott for backing-up too early. Bell plays his part in the theatre by driving the next three balls straight back to the bowler who makes a great show of trying to deflect the ball into the stumps despite the fact Trott's bat is precisely where it should be.Chawla oversteps again before Bell nurdles calmly away through square-leg to take the lead past 150. A solid block to point brings a single that means Bell will keep the strike. It's usually just when games like this start to look safe that something happens again to herald another squeaky-bum spell. This game is starting to look safe...Ashwin just gets his length wrong here as Trott twice works him off the back foot between square-leg and short fine-leg, and picks up two runs each time. That brings up the 50 partnership, and it's come in good time as well off just 84 balls. Big lbw appeal against Trott to end the over as Ashwin comes round the wicket, and it's pretty close. Tight whether it was bat or pad first, probably just pad first. Certainly looked straight enough.Outside edge from Trott bounces well short of Sehwag at slip. Not much he can do there; he certainly can't stand any closer. Trott keeps the strike with a legside single from the final ball of Ojha's over.Ashwin back into the attack with a maiden over to Bell. He's bowled a lot of his top-spinners today. Almost bowled Cook with one earlier that was met with a perfect forward defensive but then spun back off the pitch past both batsman and off stump.Nice-looking drive from Trott, but he's slightly luck to get a couple of runs for it as Jadeja at cover dives and gets a hand on the ball that diverts it past extra-cover.Bell plays his second shot of real authority through the offside off Ishant, crunching the ball past cover off the back foot. Early days, but encouraging signs. Dhoni, by the way, is standing back again so Bell is standing outside his crease.Can't imagine Trott will be too bothered to see India's fielders losing their rag. Much the funniest thing about their furious protests in an innings in which they've picked up the wicket they wanted above all others thanks to a diabolical decision is that Trott didn't even hit it. A legside nurdle brings a well-run two before Chawla is called for overstepping, which is a pretty poor error for a spinner in any circumstances but especially these ones.Even ignoring the rights and possible wrongs of that earlier decision, these have been the danger times for Trott in his recent Test efforts. Having made a reputation for being almost impossible to remove once in, he's developed an unwelcome habit for getting in and getting out. Rubbish bit of cricket here as Trott takes a dodgy quick single to Jadeja - the very opposite of 'picking your fielder' - who has a shy at the stumps, just misses, and has to watch the ball go through the legs of the man purportedly backing up to allow the batsmen to complete a second run. A much better bit of cricket sees Trott collect four as he drives a perfectly good length delivery from Ishant past mid-off for four. England's lead up to 133, and then to 134 as Trott dabs to third-man for a single to bring up his 50. It's been an excellent effort, not least because of a strike-rate of 47.16 which is positively sprinting given what most have managed on this pitch and Trott's usual pace of scoring. This whole partnership has been pleasantly paced for England, worth 36 runs off just 8.1 overs.One of the reasons the BCCI claim not to like the DRS is because they believe that the umpire's decision is final. Which is why no India players have approached the umpires to whinge and moan after that decision. Oh, wait, no, they're all having a go. Kohli - never short of a word - also giving Trott a right earful. Good luck with that.An 86mph delivery down the legside is just the very thing to bowl with the keeper up to the stumps. Just to make the situation even more impossible for Dhoni, the ball also flicks Bell's pads on its way to the fine-leg boundary. Bell dabs to third-man for a single. Dhoni goes back for Trott but keeps his helmet on, and immediately thinks he's got the batsman caught behind. Utterly convinced, throwing the ball straight up in the air. Ishant also certain. But Dharmasena says no, and Trott just makes one of his faces. Nothing on the replays to suggest an edge, but Dhoni is livid. Would need Hot Spot to have any chance of saying for sure that there was a nick there. We don't have Hot Spot.Been a veritable flurry of runs since Pietersen's dismissal, but normal service is resumed as Trott plays out a maiden from Jadeja. Change of ends for the bowler, but not a change of result. That's his eighth maiden in 14 overs in this innings to go with 17 in 37 in the first innings.Ishant into the attack with the keeper up to the stumps. But the bowler serves up a rank long-hop that Bell puts away with the sort of easy grace we've come to expect but more recently to miss. Bit of pressure on Ishant, purely because of the over-rate. Every over he sends down is worth about one-and-a-half from one of the various spinners.Good over for Trott and England. Five overs' worth of runs as Trott gets two for a thick outside edge past slip and then cuts hard through cover for four and sneaks a leg-glance past Tendulkar's dive at short fine-leg. That's two boundaries in the last two overs that might well have been cut off by a better fielding side. Eight runs are a lot on here. England lead by 118 runs with a minimum of 107 overs remaining in the game. But with 80 minutes left tonight we'll certainly get more than the scheduled 17 due by stumps. When England come to bowl tomorrow, you can be sure they'll make sure there are no more than the scheduled 90. Unless India are nine down, of course...Bell off the mark and brings up England's 100 with a flick past Ishant at short fine-leg as Jadeja errs in line. Bell adds four with a wristy whip under the dive of the man at midwicket and away to the boundary. The lead extends to 108.England's lead creeps into three-figures as Trott works Ojha through midwicket off the back foot for his fifth boundary. England effectively 102/3 with at least 109 overs remaining in the match.Ian Bell blocks the last ball of the over. He's a man under huge pressure. Be a fine effort if he can get through the last 90 minutes of the day, and that's what England need from him. There are still probably 115 overs left in this match and England's lead is not yet 100. It's a lot of time.Definite opening for India here now as Pietersen does what Trott did in the first over and plays for turn from Jadeja, shouldering arms to a ball that takes a good chunk of off stump. Just block it. Astonishing error, especially as it's one that Pietersen stood and watched be made by someone else earlier in the game.Just a sense that the pitch is starting to do slightly more as Ojha gets one to turn and bounce past Trott's outside edge. Four maidens in a row. A minimum of 21 overs left in the day's play, but we'll get plenty more than that.Drop! Sort of. Pietersen tries to cut Jadeja and nicks the ball low to Sehwag at slip. He was up too quickly and couldn't get his hands back down in time, but almost catches the ball after the ball bounces around off his boots. The ball actually stayed off the ground for a good while as it pinballed around, but Sehwag couldn't lay his hands on it.Ojha bowls the 100th maiden of the Test match. A day-and-a-bit of blocks and leaves. Proper creeket.Pietersen misses out on a short ball, rocking back and hammering the ball straight to point, as Jadeja completes yet another maiden.Ojha starts with a short ball that Trott places carefully past cover for two runs. Almost a mid-pitch collision between the batsmen as they complete the first run, but they manage to avoid each other.Good maiden over from Jadeja to Pietersen. Couple of bellowed but optimistic lbw shouts with the batsman roughly eight yards down the track.Glorious shot from Trott, driving Ojha straight down the ground and not even Jadeja - one of the better fielders in this Indian side (which is admittedly saying little) - can cut this off.Great awareness from Che Pujara at short-leg, fielding the ball from Trott and turning to hurl the ball at the non-striker's end where Pietersen was struggling to regain his ground. Would just about have made it, and Trott gets a run, but worth a go. Pietersen off the mark with a careful steer through point off the back foot. You'd think India would need two wickets, maybe three, in this final session to maintain real hopes of forcing a victory.Kevin Pietersen blocks the last two balls of the over. Word on the Compton dismissal: he did get an inside edge, the ball was caught by a close fielder, but the original decision was lbw and it will remain so.England lead by 85 runs having lost their openers in that session. Cook got a rough decision, but I'm not yet sure about Compton's. He did get an inside edge, but might actually have been caught - waiting to see another view. India still just about in the hunt with four sessions remaining.India just keeping themselves in this as Ojha nips out Compton on the stroke of tea. It's certainly straight enough as Compton prompts forward, but there might just have been the hint of an inside edge. Compton looks aggrieved anyway as he trudges off followed by the rest of the players.Jadeja rattles through a maiden over. Might still be time for two overs before tea.Ojha bowls a maiden over to Compton. Probably time for two more overs before tea.Good ball from Jadeja, spinning past Trott's outside edge as he defends off the back foot. Every now and again a ball just does something.Trott enjoying himself enormously here. Can't think of anyone else who would be more thrilled to be told he could just go and bat for as long as he wants. He works Ojha to leg for a single.Two runs for Compton in slightly dicey fashion as he gets a thick outside edge wide of second slip as Ojha tempts him into the drive with flight and width.A more orthodox boundary from Trott here, working a straight delivery through midwicket for four. He's made a lively start. No, he has. England's lead up to 81.Maiden over from Ojha to Compton.Weird day's cricket is weird. I'm not entirely certain this is really happening. Jadeja gets his release completely wrong, and the ball dribbles towards short-leg. Trott - as he's perfectly entitled to do - jumps out of his crease and past short-leg to smack the stationary ball to the square-leg boundary. Everyone is amused by that one. "Mystery ball". Trott picks up two runs with a clip off his hip.Decent shot from Trott brings through three runs through backward point.Huge lbw appeal from Jadeja against Trott, but not out says umpire Dharmasena. Hawk-eye disagrees; it was hitting leg and would've been overturned.Good comeback over from Ishant - it's a maiden.Ravi Jadeja into the attack for the first time and starts his spell with a maiden.Thick inside edge into the legside brings Compton a single.Trott hoiks a full-toss from Ashwin through midwicket for two runs.Four byes added to the England lead as Chawla fires the ball down the legside and beats Dhoni. Compton then once again on the back foot to work the ball through the legside for two runs.Trott up and running first ball with a leg-glance for four as Ashwin gets his lines wrong. Looking at that Cook dismissal again, and it's clear he hit the ground with his bat which is presumably what fooled the umpire.Cook's vigil is over, and he gets a second poor decision in the game, given out caught behind off Ashwin despite replays suggesting no edge. But that's the problem when you score this slowly; you keep the other side in the game for such a long time.Four singles from Chawla's second over.Maiden over from Ashwin to Cook.Chawla into the attack. Three singles off his first over.Maiden over from Ashwin to Cook.This is just a silly amount of runs now. Comtpoin back-cuts for two before a couple of singles to end Ojha's over.Cook hits a boundary! Very nice it is too, driven sweetly through the covers as Ashwin overpitches and offers width.Stuff happening. Pictures back. Cook gets a thick inside edge into the legside for two runs before a surprise big-spinning ball beats Cook and Dhoni and rattles away for four byes.Compton plays a maiden from Ashwin. I could kiss him. There's an lbw shout in there, we're told.Compton takes a quick single. Sounds quite tight from the crowd noise.I'm starting to think this morning is an elaborate bad dream. Now we've lost TV pictures.Two singles from Ojha's over. Madness.A maiden from Ashwin. God bless Cook and his endless blocking. Makes playing catch-up that bit easier.COOK GETS A RUN. He's raced on to two from 54 balls.Compton works to leg for a single from the last ball of Ashwin's over.Anyone who doubts that the computers are becoming self-aware should look at this morning's evidence. After the technical problems at the start of play, my laptop has now produced the Dreaded Blue Screen of Death. Even the computers don't want to know. Will try and bring you quickly back up to speed; you've not missed much.Compton nutmegs himself off an inside edge from Ashwin's first ball after lunch and scampers back for two as Ishant makes rather laboured pursuit of the ball to the displeasure of his captain. Compton's playing this perfectly so far; he's just batting. He's got a wonderful opportunity here to just bat at his own pace with no pressure to up his scoring rate at any time and help himself to a Test score.Kevin Meacher: "My hero from yesteryear Sir Geoffrey will be loving this match although probably feels young Compton is being rather too racy. Anyway I took a few hours (days) off from the excitement and was wondering what Test player has had the most initials in his name? A riveting question that befits this match me thinks!" I'm guessing - but only guessing - it would be a Sri Lankan. Anyone? Dave.Tickner@bskyb.comWith neither side apparently prepared to do anything to push this game forward the draw is now just 2/7 at Sky Bet, while an India win 7/2 and England are right out to 12s. It's 4/9 that there will be under 1.5 runs in England's first over after lunch and the tourists' second-innings runs line is 5/6 either side of 245.5 - head to skybet.com for a full range of in-play markets.F1 fan Trev in Walsall: "Now I see why we need DRS (Drag Reduction System) in the game. So far today the cricket has been one long drag. Just wished I had stayed in bed or got the ironing board out." A comment there that will only further add to the feeling of bafflement if you didn't read yesterday's commentary.At the start of that session, India were 33 runs behind and needed 10 England wickets. At the end of it, India are 21 runs behind and need 10 England wickets. One of the strangest sessions of Test cricket I've ever seen. Yes, the pitch is not helpful, but the apparent absence of a plan from anyone is bizarre. It's making me confused. Confused and angry. Confuses and angry and sleepy.This pitch is producing a self-perpetuating stiflechore. The harder runs are to score, the less likely a fielding captain is to take a gamble that may cost a quick 30 runs - such as an aggressive field, or a part-time bowler - and the less likely a batsman is to take a risk on a pitch where he knows it's most likely going to take an error for him to lose his wicket. Big lbw shout from Ishant against Cook, but it's sliding down leg on the angle with the tall paceman bowling round the wicket. He does look much the most threatening bowler India have on here, though, much as Anderson did for England. India got their selection wrong.Compton chases a full, wide delivery from Ashwin and gets a healthy edge well wide of Virender Sehwag at slip for four runs.Compton uses the depth of his crease and punches Ojha through the legside for two runs. Nicely done. A prod to a deep-set cover fielder brings a single that sends the run-rate rocketing briefly above one an over before a couple of Cook blocks bring the run-rate back down to sensible levels.Another maiden. At current rate, England will lead by 64 at stumps.The run-rate drops below one an over as Compton plays out a maiden from Ojha, who has changed ends. Can you inject Lucozade directly into your veins? Asking for a friend.This pitch is a curious thing. If you define a 'good pitch' as one that provides an even contest between bat and ball, then this is a good pitch. But it's an even contest because it's blunted everyone's weapons. This pitch is like a swordfight with teaspoons. Maiden from Ashwin to Cook.Cook now has two runs off 55 balls thanks to a quick single on the offside off Ishant, who has dismissed the England captain seven times in Tests - more than any other bowler.Compton's turn to play out a maiden over from Ojha.Second nice piece of timing from Compton, clipping off his toes for three as Ishant gets it all wrong as this leg-stump half-volley is also a no-ball. That extra run for England took India half an over's batting in the first hour. England's lead up to 11, Cook yet to score from 22 balls faced taking his match total to one run off 50 balls.Ojha. Cook. Maiden. Rinse and repeat.Compton plays out a maiden from Ishant. England still have a serious amount of time to bat before they are remotely safe, but only mental fragility can prevent them from doing so. There is nothing in the pitch or the Indian bowling attack to concern them overly. India - and their field settings confirm this - are relying entirely on English minds failing.Ian Oldham: "What sense can you make of India not declaring sooner to try and force a result? Each over they take up is time wasted in England favour, surely?" Genuinely baffling, Ian. Was a classic 'hit out or get out' situation. Batting this morning should've been an absolute free pass for Ashwin and the tail. A quick 40 or 50 runs (and quick in the context of this match need only have been three and a bit an over) would've had value and moved the game forward. If they'd got out quickly in the pursuit of those runs, they would still have moved the game forward. The only thing that didn't move the game forward was precisely what they chose to do. Probably the stranges hour of Test cricket I've ever seen.This is all so terribly, terribly confusing. It's far too early for this kind of nonsense. India - who are 2-1 down in this series remember - have three men back on the legside boundary when Cook comes on strike to Ojha following a nice clip off the hip for three from Nick Compton. Seven-two legside field. Clearly the slower England score the longer India stay in the game, but at some stage you still need to take the 10 wickets.Ishant begins England's second innings with a maiden over. Would've gone off a short price. Cook was able to let four of the six balls pass harmlessly through to MS Dhoni.Our man in Nagpur, Mike Atherton, is also struggling to make sense of that first hour's play: "Ridiculous tactics by India. The last thing they should have been doing given that they are behind in the series is to take time out of the game. They should have had a bit of a thrash and got out or declared. It was anti-cricket: England didn't want to take wickets, India didn't want to score runs, summed up by the absence of a celebration when Monty got Ojha out."Let us know what you thought of all that. Mails to Dave.Tickner@bskyb.com please. The depth of my mental scarring is revealed by the fact I simply cannot shift the word 'Adelaide' from my mind. My mind hates me.Well that was all very, very strange. India decided that (near) parity was worth the price of one hour's play. We'll find out if that was too high a price to pay tomorrow. Dhoni, meanwhile, must win some kind of award for Least Aggressive Declaration From Behind in the entire history of the game.Some inventive strokeplay from Ashwin - what a novel idea - brings him a two down the ground and then another from a slog-sweep to deep midwicket. A single to deep square-leg give Ishant one ball to survive. He brazenly whacks it to deep point for a single. The sheer arrogance of it.Anderson bowling round the wicket to Ashwin, thus taking almost every form of dismissal out of the equation and making it harder for him to get the single. Takes him four balls. There are loads of schoolkids in the ground today. They must have been very naughty indeed.At full speed that wicket looked like a replay. The replay looked like super slo-mo. The super slo-mo actually turned back time. The ball bounced high, but my word it did it slowly. Very, very strange. England's celebrations would best be described as muted. Ishant Sharma is the new batsman, and he's one for the all-time blockers' world XI. But he gets off the mark, and Ashwin gets a single to keep the strike.It takes a special effort to get out to a bowler who is not trying to get you out, but Ojha manages it here as he somehow contrives to punch the ball into his stumps when looking to defend and being surprised by some extra bounce from Panesar.Four singles from the over. India's tactics marginally less mad in the last 10 minutes. England still letting it drift, which is understandable if not particularly encouraging from a team that wants to be the best in the world. But what's absolutely vital is that this mindset is not allowed to creep into the batting; England won't be scoring quickly, we know, but they must bat properly. Positive intent in defence and attack. Otherwise things are going to get very Adelaidey, very quickly.Ashwin chips into a legside gap and runs two! Is that allowed? I'm not even sure that's allowed. He adds a single, so again India marginally in credit for that over based on our hugely complicated formula. India going for the first-innings points here, Ranji Trophy-style. Just saw a quick shot of the Indian balcony; I'm guessing Baldrick was hidden behind the laptop.There's a simple formula here. Based on a match run-rate of around 2.25, any over of three or more runs is in India's favour because it takes the game forward and any over with two or under is in England's favour because it takes an over out of the game. Three runs off this over, so that's India's. Their second 'win' of the morning.Back to the one-run-an-over cunning plan. It appears that neither side has any sort of idea how to win this cricket match.This is much more like it from India. Five singles from Anderson's over. Cook still leaves everyone back right up until the final ball. Not sure that's right if they're going to take the singles. Five an over means India are taking the game forward - England won't be scoring at five an over or anything like it when they come to bat.Plan B brings a massive shift as Ashwin smacks the ball down the ground for a single from the first ball of the over, and Ojha blocks the other five.A "drink" comes out for the batsmen. For "drink" read "team orders". Plan A is not working. Talking of things not working: apologies for the technical woes this morning. The boffins were thrilled to be disturbed at 4am on a Sunday by plaintive cries of "broken magic broken magic" but by crikey they've got things working again.Another over ticks by. England's over-rate slow as well; they know India will rattle through their overs.Monty Panesar into the attack. Field spread. Ashwin blocks four balls and then takes a single. Ojha turns down a single from the last ball of the over. England will be absolutely delighted if this continues for any length of time.There are two useful things India could be doing right now: scoring runs, or taking wickets. So quite why R Ashwin spends the first four balls of James Anderson's over turning down singles I'm not sure. He takes a single from the fifth ball; England are happy for him to do so. India can score one run an over for as long as they want as far as England are concerned.Prahyan Ojha blocks the last five balls of the over Graeme Swann began by removing Piyush Chawla last night.Superb day in prospect in Nagpur. It's been a real slow-burner of a Test match on a pitch that has offered little assistance to anyone other than fans of the forward defensive, but it's bubbling up towards a fantastic conclusion. With India still 33 behind and just two wickets in hand after yesterday's late drama it looks like being effectively a one-innings-a-side game over the remaining two days. England's plan will be just to bat and bat for the draw that will secure the series. By the end of today the draw could be 1/100 or 100/1; I genuinely have no idea which is the likelier. Fun and games ahead.