Cricket-India crush England to expose 'Bazball' shortcomings


  • Cricket
  • Sunday, 18 Feb 2024

Cricket - Third Test - India v England - Niranjan Shah Stadium, Rajkot, India - February 18, 2024 England's Ben Foakes and Jonny Bairstow appeal for the wicket of India's Kuldeep Yadav REUTERS/Amit Dave

RAJKOT, India (Reuters) -India opener Yashasvi Jaiswal and home hero Ravindra Jadeja combined to fashion a 434-run romp to victory against England in the third test on Sunday, exposing holes in the touring side's high-risk approach in the process.

There was no inkling of any imminent collapse when opener Ben Duckett smashed an 88-ball hundred to lead England's strong reply to India's first-innings 445 at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

Joe Root then played a highly debatable shot, a reverse scoop against India's premier seamer Jasprit Bumrah, to depart, which triggered a spectacular collapse.

Cruising at 224-2, England folded for 319 as they conceded a lead of 126 that allowed India to nose ahead in a contest that had looked evenly poised after two days.

Jaiswal then almost single-handedly batted England out of the contest with his unbeaten 214, which allowed India to declare on 430-4 setting England an improbable target of 557.

The opener, who retired hurt on 104 on Saturday with back spasms, returned to pummel the England attack, equalling Wasim Akram's record of 12 sixes in a test innings.

It followed his 209 in the second test in Visakhapatnam.

Shubman Gill contributed 91, while Sarfaraz Khan made 68 not out, his second fifty on his debut test.

Chasing an improbable target, England slumped to 50-7 and it was Mark Wood's entertaining but futile 33 that took them past the 100 mark.

Home hero Ravindra Jadeja was the wrecker-in-chief, claiming 5-41 to go with his first innings hundred, which helped him pip Jaiswal to the player-of-the-match award.

FULL FAITH

India captain Rohit Sharma said he had full faith in his bowling unit even after spinner Ravichandran Ashwin missed Saturday's action, having to fly home after a family emergency.

"Test cricket is not played over two days or three days. We understand the importance of staying in the game," Rohit said after India went 2-1 up in the five-match series.

"England played well and put us under pressure but we have class bowlers and the message was to stay calm.

"It is easy to drift away from what you do as a team but I am really proud of how we came back."

In the second innings, several of England's frontline batters surrendered to spin with Jonny Bairstow, Root and Ben Stokes falling lbw to spinners, while Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes offered edges that were taken.

Their poor shot selection in the first innings, however, has prompted questions about the gung-ho approach championed by skipper Stokes and head coach Brendon 'Baz' McCullum.

Stokes will not abandon 'Bazball' yet despite criticism that it borders on recklessness.

"Everyone has an opinion or a perception of things but the people in the dressing room really matter to us," the England captain said after the chastening loss.

"We know things don't always work out exactly how you want them to. We are 2-1 down and have a chance to win 3-2.

"We will leave this game behind us. We have to win the next two to win the series and that's what we will be trying to do."

The fourth test, scheduled in Ranchi, begins on Friday.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ken Ferris)

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