And that is that. One of the more bizarre days of cricket in modern memory and it didn’t reach the sixth hour. Work that out. Thanks for your company on the rollercoaster ride. And we’ll be back next week for the fourth and final Test with India leading the series 2-1. Bye!
Axar Patel is the player of the match for his 11/70. We don’t get to hear from him on the broadcast as Channel 4 cut back to the studio.
Virat Kohli speaks. Begins saying it was a “good pitch” to bat on in the first innings but there was a lack of application from the line-ups of both teams. “It was bizarre that out of the 30 wickets, 21 were off straight balls. I feel that’s a lapse of concentration or indecision, playing for the turn but getting beaten on the inside. I honestly feel that batsmen need to trust their defence more.” He lavishes praise on Axar, saying he is impossible to sweep. As for Ashwin: “I said from now on I am calling to call him ‘Ledge’. In Test Match cricket he is surely a modern-day legend and we’re lucky to have him.”
Rohit Sharma wins the game-changer award. I’m not quite sure what that is, but it isn’t the player of the match. Thomas Hopkins wrote me a note about the Indian opener. “In all the noise that’s going to follow, I hope that Rohit’s epic performance in both of the last two Tests isn’t overlooked. Take his runs out in both first innings and England’s totals don’t look (quite) as feeble.” Spot on.
Joe Root speaks. “70/2” is where they lost the game, he says. “Had we got 250 on that wicket it would have been a really good score.” He says that this won’t “define them as a team” and they will “use the hurt” of what has happened to fuel them for the final Test. He’s asked a question about straight deliveries getting them out: “I’ll be brutally honest, the ball.” He explains that the plastic cover made it feel like the ball would speed up off the pitch – an interesting talking point there, I’m sure. “But we’ll come back stronger for this. We have some fine batters who are capable of making big scores. It is just building pressure over a long period of time, making it count.” On his five-for? “It sums up the wicket if I’m doing that,” he jokes. Root finishes by congratulating Ashwin and Ishant for 100 Tests.
To the presentation. We’ll hear from Root and Kohli shortly.
“Let’s see how defensive Root and his teammates are at this defeat,” writes Ruth Purdue. “This matters, it shows if they will front up and accept it or look for excuses (pitch, DRS etc). They picked one real spinner for this game.”
Root is usually pretty good with this. We’ll hear him talk shortly.
“I don’t want to make excuses for England as both sides got to use the same pitch,” says Ben Skelton, “but what chance the ECB repays India by preparing a lush green top for NZ’s pace attack for the WTC final?”
A tasty prospect! But I suspect the ICC will oversee that process.
Spencer Francis on the turning point. I’m with him. “England really lost the game is the first over of their second innings. Test matches sometimes require seizing the moment. India bowled out for an underwhelming score after collapse, under pressure, at home, and worried about fourth innings chase, talk about a moment. And the first three balls had nothing to do with the pitch – Crawley playing down a line ball couldn’t have gone to (straight one beat him on the outside edge) and Bairstow, I don’t have words for the two balls he played. Just weak and not focused really in the most critical moment of opportunity to put India under pressure.”
And Phil Sawyer has the final word on his carpet incident: “Don’t know what Copestake’s talking about, sniffs Phil Sawyer.”
Lowest match aggregate. Thanks to Tom Paternoster-Howe for this chart – that slots into tenth spot on the all-time list with 387 runs.
“I’m feeling a little sorry for Channel 4,” says David Melhuish. “They put their faith in the long form of the games after a long recess. And now all the revenue and interest goes into the ether. There might be some discussions in boardrooms after this series. Hope they stand firm.”
Good point. Especially after those two five-day thrillers in Australia.
That was the shortest completed Test since 1935, according to the Channel 4 broadcast. Ian Forth on that oddity. “Nine of the first 50 tests were over inside two days. There have been 21 in total. There was a gap of 54 years after 1946 before England beat WI at Leeds in 2000. Then if we put Zimbabwe and Afghanistan aside (four occasions), Australia beating Pakistan in Sharjah in 2002 was the last instance amongst the ‘major’ nations.”
Ashwin is speaking about his 400th wicket. He’s a gem, talking about belief that he maintained through various injuries. “When I landed in Australia, Virat thought I was bowling really well. And during lockdown, I worked hard on my fitness to prepare for the next few years. From there, things have gone really well for me.” Has he ever bowled better? “One thing is for sure, I’ve always looked to improve. So, I would not be surprised if I surpass this in the future.”
“I’m feeling pretty flat right now,” says Andrew Strauss. As he says, there was so much energy in the first half of that day – remember when England took seven wickets in 20 overs to start? It felt a million miles away when India rattled those runs off. Alastair Cook adds that the margin doesn’t sit well with him, but I’m not so sure – they did bowl England out for 112 and 81 on day one and two.
How to explain that? England, all out 81 inside 31 overs. Barely an hour later, India smack 49 runs in 7.4 overs to finish the job. I’ll stick around to bring you the presentation and on-ground reaction.