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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

India vs England, 5th Test Day 3: Even after loss, Bazballers dare their doubters

The disappointment of their first series loss since Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes took charge lingered but this was their way to build camaraderie among the group and move on

Indranil Majumdar Dharamshala Published 10.03.24, 09:05 AM
James Anderson, aged 41,is the first pacer to reach700 Test wickets.

James Anderson, aged 41,is the first pacer to reach700 Test wickets. PTI

An hour after the presentation, while the Indians had left the stadium, England’s Bazballers were back on the field again. Not with their cricketing kits but rehearsing their football skills as the late afternoon sun glittered on the snow-capped mountain peaks.

The disappointment of their first series loss since Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes took charge lingered but this was their way to build camaraderie among the group and move on.

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This defeat was their worst in the series, bowled out in 57.4 overs in the first innings and 48.1 in the second, the match over within eight sessions. Still, there was no reason to believe that there would be a drastic change or that their tactics and strategy would be questioned. Stokes said it was important that the team stayed true to themselves.

This was McCullum’s way of not “getting stuck in past failures”.

Stokes too doesn’t want to dwell on the what-ifs. “Hindsight never loses,” he said when asked if they could have tried playing five bowlers. “Those types of questions will always be asked after the fact. I don’t deal in hindsight, sorry.”

He conceded that England had failed to win the key moments when matches hung in the balance; India stepped up on those occasions and England didn’t.

The batting was reckless and it showed even on what turned out to be the final day of the series. Once Joe Root shunned impetuosity for conventional style after the third Test, he returned scores of 122 not out, 11, 26 and, finally, 84 on Friday.

Stokes warned against writing off his side “at your own peril”. “Sometimes taking risks bring your downfall, but when there’s a reason behind taking these risks that don’t quite work out, that is fine,” he said. “It is a tough game, cricket, and it can eat you up, but this tour is always one that can lead you astray, or make you a better player.

“I have done a lot of India tours now. I am obviously disappointed with my performance for the team, but write this team off, write me off, at your own peril.

“We’ve done a lot of things right. This series shouldn’t affect anything we’ve managed to achieve before this tour.”

Dravid agreed that England had their chances. “We dominated this Test match... But the first four Tests, there were periods when they did put us under a little bit of pressure... particularly the third day in Rajkot and the third day in Ranchi, when England had the ascendancy in the morning. The heartening thing was how well our experienced players stepped up in those situations.”

Amid the ruins, James Anderson’s 700th Test wicket, when he had Kuldeep Yadav caught behind by Ben Foakes, was a bright spot. It was an “I was there” moment for the English supporters on a forgettable cricket tour.

“Jimmy takes everything in his stride. He doesn’t play the game for the milestones, he plays for his teammates and England. It was a pretty subdued celebration for 700,” Stokes said.

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