The 3rd test at Southampton was a perfect win for England and that was probably the last thing India were expecting, particularly after taking a 1-0 lead in this ongoing series. It was as if Alastair Cook was driving the car for 5 days and never gave MS Dhoni the opportunity to change seats with him.
During the presentation ceremony of the 2nd test, Cook had promised the English crowd to show a better performance with the bat and to make a comeback in this series. Indeed it happened!
From run-outs to getting crushed by an English spinner, India didn’t enjoy a single bit of time at Ageas Bowl. I am sure that they will be happy that finally it has ended and to their relief, it ended just before lunch time.
So they would have had some beautiful lunch but with that, they may have also discussed about the weakness that led England level the 5-match test series.
Now let’s talk about the factors that were instrumental in the series scoreline change to 1-1:
Jadeja’s catch drop: – Alastair Cook was searching for form and giving him company was Pankaj Singh who was searching for his maiden test wicket. It is said that sometimes you need a moment of luck if you want to break the bad run of form.
Luck was indeed the one which favored the former. Jadeja dropped an easy one in the slips when Cook was on 15, denying debutant Pankaj Singh his maiden test wicket off a brilliant delivery.
Thereafter Cook added 80 more, contributing in England’s mammoth total of 569 while Pankaj went wicketless, making him the bowler having the worst bowling figures in a debut test match.
Spin drowns India: – Monty Panesar asked questions against India’s ability against spin bowling in 2012. This time it was Moeen Ali’s turn.
Indians are the best players of spin, really? If this statement holds true, Moeen Ali would not have taken a match winning haul of eight wickets. He took advantage of “the oatmeal biscuit like pitch “(as said by Alan Wilkins) and troubled the so called “best players of spin bowling.”
Moeen Ali took the wickets of Pujara and Kohli on day 4 and four more, the next day, to complete one of the greatest performances by an English spinner in England.
Senseless Run-Out: – A run-out at the start of an innings is the last thing a team wants, particularly when that leads to the dismissal of the best batsman in the side.
Murali Vijay and Shikar Dhawan never looked like they were having any problem in the 2nd innings before the former fell short of the crease to a direct hit from Stuart Broad. He didn’t even dive and paid the price for it, thus opening the doors of victory for England.
Negative Approach: – Dhoni was in a negative frame of mind from the 1st day. Flat wicket and a 1-0 lead may have forced the captain to just sit back and wait for a draw, which didn’t happen. After conceding over 500 runs, India needed to bat well but due to some poor shot selection the pendulum swung well and truly in England’s direction.
Dhoni was more trying to save runs than taking wickets as he allowed Jadeja to bowl to the leg stump line to Cook rather than telling him to bowl in the corridor of uncertainty.
Poor shot Selection: – Just before the stroke of tea, on day 3, Rohit Sharma, who was well set with Ajinkya Rahane, tried to show some of his classy shots against spinner Moeen Ali to which he paid the price. There was no need of a big shot and that too, nothing gets worse than conceding a wicket against a part-timer. He was a spinner and that must have caught Rohit attention to go after him.
After the tea break, it was Ajinkya Rahane, who tried to show his excellence against “spin” before he struck from the toe-end of his bat, leaving the mid on fielder to complete a sitter.
In the 2nd innings too, the woeful batting never ended as Ravindra Jadeja tried too much when that was not the time to do so. Instead of trying to save the test match, he came forward to a delivery from Moeen Ali, only to get an inside edge onto the stumps.
Perhaps, it was over-confidence against spin which hurt India in the end.
England’s two experienced batsman- Alastair Cook and Ian Bell- are back in form, England have managed to find a replacement of Graeme Swann in who else but Moeen Ali, Ishant Sharma is still injured for the Old Trafford test and the Indian think thank has to sit and think about the team selection thoroughly.
The series is now leveled and it will be a great contest when the teams go to Old Trafford for the penultimate test of the series.