15th over: England 39-2 (Root 14, Malan 12) Shami gets Malan driving and he nearly nicks one. Two runs from the over, one from a hooping ball way down leg from which they take a bye, then Root dabs a single to third man.
14th over: England 37-2 (Root 13, Malan 12) Ashwin now round the wicket to Root, who appears to be combatting the spinner by playing as much off the back foot as possible. That attempt doesn’t last very long, coming back over but Root works the field brilliantly by going back and forcing a four through a big gap in the covers. Lovely batting, that.
More from our new role as conduit for the Withington brothers’ correspondence. John writes: “Brother Brian played so rarely that he won’t be aware that his younger and more prolific brother held the club record for numbers of pouched victims over many seasons. But having started the reminiscing I immediately recall the sorts of moments that pass into local club folklore. Most especially the unfortunate Graham Hawse, who’s most memorable contribution to the club was to spill a single figures sitter at point, off the bat shoulder of the league’s most prolific batsman, who went on to slaughter our bowlers to all parts for a violent 150. The entirely unnecessary, languid call of “Grahaaaaaam’s” became the ironic jeer for at least a decade for any incident involving a misjudgement and is still used in old boys’ meetings when beer is inevitably spilt.”
13th over: England 31-2 (Root 8, Malan 11) Root plays a couple of nice drives for little reward, the only run from the over coming via a clip down to fine leg.
Well quite. West Indies only needed seven more runs with two wickets in hand when Healy put this one down, in their miraculous run chase led by Lara’s magical 153. The title of this clip is a big hyperbolic as Healy played another five Tests, but Adam Gilchrist took over later that year.
12th over: England 30-2 (Root 7, Malan 11) Nice shot from Malan, timed well, but he only gets a single for it because it went straight to a deep mid-off. Root gets one then Ashwin tries over the wicket to Malan, and promptly beats him fairly comprehensively.
11th over: England 28-2 (Root 6, Malan 10) A drop? Possibly. Malan throws everything at a wideish one from Shami that gets some hop, there’s a noise that might have been a feather edge but it’s academic, as the bounce surprised Karthik too as he doesn’t take the catch. Just a single from the over, from a miscued Malan pull.
10th over: England 27-2 (Root 6, Malan 9) Ashwin does rattle through them, doesn’t he? Tricky for your OBOers, which I think we can all agree is the most important thing here. Just a single from the over, Malan tucking one just behind square.
Richard O’Hagan emails in with a story that…takes a turn at the end. “I once played against a team from Weston’s Cider in Gloucestershire. They kindly placed a large barrel of cider on the boundary for everyone to imbibe from. It was the only time I have seen three or four balls coming towards me when I was batting – and I didn’t hit any of them. Rumour has it that cricket is no longer played on that ground, as it was found to be one of the locations where Fred West hid his victims.”
9th over: England 26-2 (Root 6, Malan 8) Malan plays a nice, guided thick edge off Shami, sending the ball wide of third man and to the boundary. He certainly looks like a man who knows his place might be in trouble, but he’s been OK so far.
David Wigan has been on: “Nick – I am not a huge cricket geek so forgive my ignorance in these matters, but can you tell me why Alistair Cook still plays for England? Its more surprising when he does get runs then when he doesn’t, right? Kind of a cricket version of Wayne Rooney?”
There are probably more intricate and well-thought arguments for this, but the two most simple are 1) He scored 46 and 70 in his last two Tests, not the totals of a man at the top of his game, but perhaps not one who should go to the knackers yard just yet and 2) England haven’t managed to replace Andrew Strauss yet, and he retired six years ago. They’ve tried (I think) 12 partners for Cook in that time: finding one opener is hard enough, never mind two.
8th over: England 21-2 (Root 6, Malan 3) Malan, not a man in particularly good touch, puts his best foot forwards and plays a drive at his first ball: it wasn’t what you’d call a confident drive, more the drive of a man trying to look confident. Still, he gets three for one just hauled in before the boundary.
WICKET! Jennings c Rahul b Ashwin – England 18-2
For all the problems Ashwin can cause with his variations, he gets a wicket with a perfectly delivered, standard off-spinner. Jennings props forwards, it turns a touch more than he thought and Rahul takes a smart catch to his right at second slip.
7th over: England 17-1 (Jennings 8, Root 5) Shami tries to send Root to hospital with a toe-crushing yorker, but he does well to flick that one away and avoid a date with the x-ray machine. Jennings carelessly jabs at one outside off that bounces a bit, and goes within a gnat’s gnadger of taking the edge.
Phil Sawyer points out a problem with the ‘pay a ball-by-ball’ commentator in ale’ plan: “I wish I were in the Edgbaston region tomorrow so I could help Rob out (and take advantage of his hospitality). However, I can’t help feeling that his policy of buying the willing ball-by-baller beer all day may be somewhat flawed. By the final session the commentary would be in danger of going something like ‘Thassa Elbow… Elbu …. LBW. Hitting in line. Well, one of the three balls was anyway. Ahhh, yer my best fuggin mate….’”
6th over: England 15-1 (Jennings 7, Root 4) Always enough to make you nervous when a batsman goes down to sweep a tall spinner like Ashwin, but Jennings gets on top of this one and paddles a single round the corner. Ashwin then gets away with a full toss that Root clips straight to short mid-wicket.
Another costly drop, here…
5th over: England 14-1 (Jennings 6, Root 4) Shami gets his first couple of balls on a solid off stump line, then drifts onto Root’s pads and nicely places a clip through two fielders for a couple.
Some fraternal banter starts early in the day. “You wait all summer for one Withington contribution and then get two in half an hour,” writes Brian Withington. “I seem to recall brother John spilling one or two for Hornchurch Athletic when it really mattered but at least he never got the chance to reprieve Kohli.”
4th over: England 10-1 (Jennings 5, Root 1) Ashwin finishes the over, Root tickling a single around the corner that had fielders at short leg and leg slip interested briefly.
Players are out. There are two more balls of Ravi Ashwin’s over from last night to complete. He’ll bowl to Joe Root, the new batsman.
Anyone going tomorrow fancy doing a good turn?
Here’s Andy Bull on the duel between two of the very best we’ll ever see:
Sam Curran, who might have been the star of the day had it not been for You Know Who, praises You Know Who, writes Ali Martin:
Just time to get caught up on yesterday’s play. First, Vic Marks’s report:
We probably have a winner straight away for the most costly drops, as Gary Naylor reminds us: Chris Scott, who dropped Brian Lara 18 runs into his 501 in 1994. Andy Bull spoke to him a couple of years ago:
“I wondered if you’ve yet had a debate about the most important dropped catches of all time,” wonders John Withington. “Not wanting to put the curse on poor old Malan, but with all the Kohli focus in English conditions is it likely that Malan’s shelling early on will turn out, not just for this match but for the series, to be an absolute stinker? And I got to wondering what the most important dropped catches of all time have proven to be.”
As with most things, thoughts immediately turn to the 2005 Ashes…but I’m sure you lot can be more imaginative than I.
India put their batting coach up for general media duties last night apparently, and you can imagine how that went down with the press pack. But through some careful sleuthing, the BCCI website did somehow manage to get the massive scoop of an interview with Virat. So here it is:
On feeling slightly underwhelmed (!) by that magnificent knock:
I try to prepare the best way possible that I can and help my team as much as possible. It wasn’t only about getting to the three-figure mark, but also to capitalize on the hundred. I was very disappointed when I got out because I thought we could’ve taken a 10-15 run lead. But, in hindsight, we wouldn’t have been able to bowl then. So, I’d just accept what God’s bestowed upon me and I was very happy with my preparation and not worried about the world.
On guiding the tail-enders/anyone who isn’t as good as him (which is everyone), obviously:
It was difficult, but I told myself that it was important to enjoy this moment and consider a challenge to take the team far and the innings deep. It was a test of physical and mental strength and I’m glad that we could come close to their total and we’re pretty much in the game. When you help the team that way, it obviously feels great. I have to laud the tail as well. Hardik batted really well after we were five wickets down. Then, the way Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav applied themselves, I think it was an outstanding effort from them and I have to give a lot of credit to them for getting us this close. They stuck in there, supported me really well and I’m very proud of both of them and happy with the effort.
On where this ranks in his top knocks:
I’m not too sure, but this could come in second to Adelaide*. It (Adelaide) still remains very special to me, because it was the second innings and we were chasing a target, wherein I had total clarity that we are going for the target. Not once did I think otherwise. That was a beautiful zone to be in, but today I’m very happy and grateful for having this opportunity to help the team this way and pull us back in the Test and compete. That’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to compete. We’re here to fight and we will continue doing that.
*This will be the second of his two centuries at the Adelaide Oval in 2014, when he scored 141 as India chased a target of 364, but fell 48 runs short. Much like his innings yesterday, he didn’t get a huge amount of help, although Murali Vijay did get 99. The next highest score was 21.
We say this a lot, but there really is nothing like Test cricket when it gets going. That spell where India nearly lost five wickets while on 100 yesterday was so engrossing that you wonder what anyone else could possibly have been doing during it.
For England though, while at the time it looked like they were all over India like a nasty rash caused by a cheap suit, that spell represented the turning point of the day, when they dropped Virat Kohli. Obviously it’s not just the runs he scored, but the way he so brilliantly guided the rest of the team. At one stage it looked like India would be lucky to get away with a double-figures deficit, but thanks to him now the Test is basically level.
The other problem Kohli provides for England is they’ll need a lead of about 300 before they can feel a little bit comfortable, and even then it might not be enough. Joe Root and Keaton Jennings will be at the crease, and they’ll need to stick around for a good while. Hopefully today is as good as yesterday, and the rest of the series is as good as today.