England manage not to throw it all away in a fit of panic and look fairly comfortable heading into the final day of the series.
On a day with few gripping passages of play, at least Jonathan Trott was involved in some incidents worth mentioning (although incidents more of the ‘cat stuck up a tree’ than the ‘escaped tiger causes airbus to crash land on the M23’ variety). His method of batting is designed to exasperate the opposition as well as being suited to these sorts of slow, almost moribund, days of cricket. If his goal is winding up the Indians, then it worked today, with several of the Indians becoming more animated than they’ve been in months. When he attempted a cut shot off Ishant Sharma, MS Dhoni and the fielders were adamant that he had edged the ball. Virat Kohli, not the most placid individual at the best of times, spent some minutes in probably not very polite discussion with the umpires and both Dhoni and Sharma were also visibly annoyed. The replays – obviously not available to the umpires or the players – proved that there was no edge and that the umpiring decision was correct (and it’s not very often we can state that; indeed Alastair Cook’s earlier dismissal, when he was caught behind despite missing the ball by the width of the Brahmaputra, was yet another shocker from umpire Dharmasena). Later in the day, Trott’s enthusiastic backing-up led to R Ashwin looking determined to run him out from four consecutive balls. That Ian Bell happily played the deliveries straight back down the pitch only added to the giggles. It’s been far too long since Trott has scored a Test century (in March in Galle), one tomorrow to secure the series would be very welcome indeed.
For a while the day was an utterly terrible example of Test cricket. The Indian tail seemed intent on not scoring, something that England were happy to oblige. It was only when a message was sent out with the drinks that they sought to actually approach the England first innings score, only for Dhoni to then declare four runs shy. The slow scoring continued when Cook and Compton were at the crease: the captain’s second run came from his 54th ball.
However the boreathon was interrupted briefly when Ravindra Jadeja bowled a delivery that bounced once on the edge of the pitch and then bobbled several times to somewhere near short mid-wicket. As well as being called a no-ball, Trott was able to calmly whack the ball to the boundary for four. In hindsight, it might not have been that funny, but after the stagnant swill that onlookers had endured, anything slightly unusual would have had us guffawing wildly.
And so the series comes to its conclusion. The way that Bell and in particular Trott saw England through to the close suggests that they are knuckling down to the job in hand, i.e. to avoid defeat. However, the situation is tense and the lead is not yet sufficient. All it will take is a few quick wickets in the morning for England to start wobbling/panicking/downing gin. We’re not bold enough to predict the outcome, but if England don’t win the series from here, we’ll be forced to start writing strongly-worded messages to everyone involved. And we got told-off last time we did that. Come on England, spare us the trouble please. Pretty please.