Alastair Cook proved himself a useless tosser before England battled back into the series in Mumbai.
Cheteshwar Pujara once again dominated England’s bowlers, as the tourists settled on him as the bloke they would let score thousands of runs against them this series, while Monty Panesar’s eclectic mix of magic balls and yorkers kept his side well in the game. Ultimately, though, who can argue with the sort of results Stuart Broad is producing at the moment?
Since the beginning of England’s series with South Africa, Broad has taken 4 first innings wickets at 110. He is yet to claim a single victim in this series and has rarely looked remotely like doing so. A huge reason for the way England tailed off from an excellent position in the final session on day one was that they were effectively operating with a three-man attack, such was Broad’s ineffectualness. To not look dangerous is one thing, to be seemingly incapable of maintaining the slightest control is inexcusable and made him a complete liability. It was only the fact Cook is new to his role that he bowled as many as 12 overs, as Andrew Strauss would not have been so forgiving. A one-legged Steven Finn would have been more use to the captain today.
As is England’s wont these days, even though their fielding was much improved on Ahmedabad they still managed to fluff the crucial moment. Pujara, on 60, edged the rampant Panesar to slip, where both Jimmy Anderson and Jonathan Trott dived and the former succeeded only in tipping it round the post for a couple. At the risk of repeating ourselves, the commentators and everyone in the northern hemisphere, England have got to remember how to take the half-chances which, ultimately, are the difference. For all Pujara’s excellence he should have been out cheaply in the first Test and should be long gone by now in this game as well. India is a tough enough place to visit at the best of times, they are making it harder still.
On a low-scoring pitch, this partnership has done damage enough already and England have to wrap the innings up before it gets completely out of hand. The sense around the game is that the horse may have already bolted, such is their comic ineptitude on difficult surfaces, but if they restrict India to 300 their current plan of banking on one guy coming off and hoping for the best may actually be just the ticket. For the home side’s part, if they disappear north of 350, everyone might as well pack up and head for Kolkata.