England never did enough in the first innings, and from that point onwards it was India’s game. They move on to Mumbai 2-0 down, but what can they take from defeat at Mohali?
England 236 (Root 78, Ashwin 3-71) & 283 (Bairstow 89, Shami 3-63) lost to India 417 (Jadeja 90, Stokes 5-73) & 104-2 (Parthiv 67*) by 8 wickets
IT’S ALL OVER
It would be surprising if this series didn’t end 4-0 to India. England have given everything so far and they haven’t got close. Psychologically, coming back from 2-0 to win the last two Tests and salvage a draw would be an incredibly impressive feat – a feat that, presently, looks beyond England. They won’t just drop tools and give up but with winning the series no longer possible it will be hard to summon up the energy and application to compete. They’ll drop to fifth in the ICC rankings if they lose 4-0 – perhaps that and pride will inspire them to something historic.
ENGLAND NEED A BREAK
Part of the reason 4-0 feels likely is England’s fatigue. They have been on the road since late September, with an ODI series and seven Tests which have been more or less back to back. They look like their race is run: they’re carrying two players who are effectively unselectable, they’ve got an injured opener and a knackered skipper. Many of the players are off to Dubai for a short break before the Mumbai Test and it might be just what they need, if only to rest some sore limbs and lift morale.
ANOTHER OPENER… AND A BOWLER
Haseeb Hameed has serious grit – the problem is he also has a fractured finger. He was again hugely impressive in this Test, blameless in the first innings and gutsy in the second. He’s now batted for more balls than any other England player in this series, secondly only to Kohli in the India side, and no teenager has faced as many balls in India as he has. Given the circumstances his knock today was special. It’s hard not to fall desperately in love with him.
Sadly – ain’t that always the way with love – we won’t see any more of him in this series. Tellingly of his rise, will be a huge loss. England may opt to replace him with one of the Lions (Gubbins, Jennings, Bell-Drummond) or they may have to give Ballance or Duckett another chance.
That’s not where the problems stop. England have gone for a 3-3 balance with their spinners and seamers throughout their tour of Asia but that might be over in Mumbai. Gareth Batty was on the periphery of this game throughout, as Ansari was at Vizag, and with Broad possibly back for Mumbai it might be time to go 4-2. If it’s a real turner, England will have a decision: pick their best bowlers or play to the conditions.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
England have won series in the recent past where their stats weren’t spectacular, when they weren’t obviously better than the opposition. They’ve won them by winning the key moments; identifying the passages of play that are most crucial and making them count. India have been better than England in this Test – of that there is no debate – but this is a Test of ‘if onlys’ for England. Had they been able to score 100 more in the first innings they would have had a good chance, had they been able to dismiss Jadeja or Ashwin earlier they would have had a good chance. The hosts have nailed the key moments in this series and they’re deservedly ahead as a result.
FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT
These two teams don’t like each other. There’s been a lot of needle throughout this Test. Beyond the Kohli/Stokes farrago play has been stopped on several occasions as batsmen have pulled away and waited for the close-in fielders to stop having a word and India were none too happy about Joe Root standing closer to the umpire in an apparent attempt to be better-placed to help Cook with potential DRS calls. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja were both quick to deem an aspect of England’s play “negative” in post-match press conferences and Jimmy Anderson was arguing with the umpires during his stay at the crease today. They’ll be glad to see the back of each other for a week or so.
All Out Cricket’s coverage of the India-England Test series is in association with Southall Travel