Alastair Cook walks back to pavilion after losing his wicket on the first day of fourth cricket test match between England and India in Nagpur. PTI Photo
The reactions of a team facing acute embarrassment can make for stark contrasts in style. While the self-assured outfit focuses all its energy on not going down without a fight, the unsettled team lets emotions take over.
On Sunday, India could see all hopes of saving the series fading away. Unable to beat the English in the fourth and final Test would mean the visitors will clinch a series in this country for the first time for close to three decades.
In a game where India were battling time and the opposition, the team's approach in the first hour of the play defied logic. On the fourth morning, the hosts declared four runs short of the England’s first innings total. However, it was not before the batsmen used up 12.5 overs.
The slow progress was what the English would not have expected, but something they had no reason to complain. Once the English batsmen came out for their second innings, they adopted an uncomplicated approach, knowing the more time they spend at the crease, the closer they would get to a series win.
Grinding it out
Survival was the name of the game for Alastair Cook and Nick Compton. After ten overs, England had crawled to eight runs. The first four of the day came five minutes before lunch, when Compton edged R Ashwin.
Once Cook was adjudged caught behind, of what seemed an incorrect call by umpire Kumar Dharmasena, Jonathan Trott walked in and continued the effort. He began with a boundary and looked to score at every opportunity. Even when Ravindra Jadeja let one slip out of his hand and the ball rolled towards short leg, he spanked it for four.
“When you talk about gamesmanship and sportsmanship I think you should expect the same from the opponents,” said an agitated Ashwin, who later exchanged angry words with Trott after warning him not to back up too far too early.
MS Dhoni's four spinners failed to pose much problems. They were unable to find any purchase on a fourth day wicket. Even the Jadeja delivery that castled Kevin Pietersen did not spin while the batsman had let it go expecting it to spin away. Ian Bell too seemed intent on occupying the crease, refusing to be tempted even by flighted deliveries. The situation added to India's frustration. When Trott was ruled not out after a caught behind shout off Ishant Sharma, India's annoyance reached boiling point.
Sharma's follow through suddenly got longer, stretching up to the batsman. In the same over, Sharma had a few things to say to Trott, who retorted. At the end of the over, Virat Kohli joined in the banter while captain Dhoni was seen having a word with the umpires. The Indians kept having a go at Trott right under umpire Rod Tucker's nose.
Then came Ashwin’s confrontation with Trott. Ashwin said, “I told him I can run him out if he can hit that boundary (off Jadeja). He said ‘you might as well do it’. But I will not do it because he has already got a boundary and is on 60. Plus we’ve already got him out many times.”
With India losing the plot and the temper, one more decent session in the morning should allow England to pop the bubbly.