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regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 May 2024

India vs England, 5th Test: Three-day finish on cards? Don't blame the pitch 

Was the pitch offering assistance to the bowlers? Kul­deep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah’s 45-run unbroken association in the closing stages further demonstrated the fact that there was nothing to fear about the wicket

Indranil Majumdar Dharamshala Published 09.03.24, 07:32 AM
India's Kuldeep Yadav plays a shot during the second day of the fifth Test cricket match between India and England, in Dharamsala, Friday, March 8, 2024.

India's Kuldeep Yadav plays a shot during the second day of the fifth Test cricket match between India and England, in Dharamsala, Friday, March 8, 2024. PTI

Two images stood out when Ben Stokes dismissed Rohit Sharma off his first ball in Test cricket in nearly nine months on Friday. Mark Wood holding his head in disbelief at mid-off and head coach Brendon McCullum unable to hide the wry smile on his face.

The India captain had completed his century and was ready to torment the attack when Stokes got one to jag in through Rohit’s defence. The wicket had offered no assista­nce to James Anderson and Mark Wood forcing Stokes to try himself out, much ahead of his scheduled return to bo­wling since the knee surgery.

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Was the pitch offering assistance to the bowlers? Kul­deep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah’s 45-run unbroken association in the closing stages further demonstrated the fact that there was nothing to fear about the wicket. Both the tailenders were in no hurry against a tired England attack and almost confirmed that they don’t have to bat a second time in this Test.

The talking point at stumps was whether Saturday would turn out to be the final day of the series.

England hardly inspired confidence in the minds of their loyal visiting fans and most have already started to make alternate arrangements for the scheduled last two days of the match.

Devdutt Padikkal said there had been no talk in the dressing room about an early finish.

“Not really. We haven’t discussed and aren’t looking so far ahead. We still have two wickets in hand there is a good partnership going. So hopefully we can continue to bat and keep getting those runs and make the lead bigger,” he said.

While the odd ball has turned because of the widening cracks, there’s nothing to suggest that it would be tough to survive on this pitch. If the England top-order showed resilience, a dramatic collapse has often thrown their plans haywire.

Nothing has worked for England: unconventional field placings, rotation of bowlers and leg-side traps. Shoaib Bashir did pick up four wickets, but it was more out of the batters’ impetuosity than the off-spinner’s skills.

England barely showed the zeal to put up a fight in this Test. Their batters repeatedly committed the same mistak­es and it is only expected that they will struggle against Kuldeep’s wrist spin again. Bumrah’s reverse swing could also spell their doom.

But don’t blame the pitch; the demoralised batters could prove to be easy pickings for the bowlers.

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