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India vs England: India bowlers leave England grappling with batting crisis

Although England pulled off a narrow win at Edgbaston and used favourable pitch conditions at Lord’s, India’s pacers have triggered a full-blown batting crisis. A team rarely finds itself under siege at home, but England did.

cricket Updated: Aug 23, 2018 19:36 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Nottingham
india vs england,india vs england 2018,virat kohli
The English batsmen have struggled against the Indian bowlers.(REUTERS)

It was hard to believe England still led 2-1 in the series. Skipper Joe Root, who bats with fluidity and always faces the toughest questions with a smile, was grim. India had exposed the hosts’ major weaknesses with the crushing win at Trent Bridge on Thursday and the pressure was telling.

Although England pulled off a narrow win at Edgbaston and used favourable pitch conditions at Lord’s, India’s pacers have triggered a full-blown batting crisis. A team rarely finds itself under siege at home, but England did.

On Thursday, after India took 10 minutes and 17 balls to take the final wicket to seal victory, Root was faced with questions about his form, that of England’s most prolific batsman, Alastair Cook, as well as others. Questions asked of the Indian line-up a Test earlier are now being posed to England batsmen.

Cook, 33 and already facing retirement questions, seems to have run into a perfect storm. Ishant Sharma’s confidence bowling from around the wicket, and his higher success percentage against left-handers, is hurting him.

Ishant prefers to angle the ball in from over the wicket, but the round-the-wicket tactic, bounce and late seam movement have been a deadly recipe. No wonder he has got Cook in his last three innings, after R Ashwin bowled him twice in the Edgbaston Test.

Root, run out for 80 in Edgbaston, has also been pegged down. His scores of 14, 19, 16 and 13 after that has seen him nick catches. India pacers have bowled full to draw him forward and then either got one to seam in sharply, as at Lord’s, or bang it just short to get him to edge to the slip cordon.

Recalled Keaton Jennings has also been a flop, and Jonny Bairstow, in form but not sure for the Southampton Test due to a ‘small’ finger fracture, has only compounded the problem.

England have struggled from the start of the Ashes tour early this year, and have been bailed out by the middle-order often. Even in Trent Bridge, their margin of defeat would have been almost double if Jos Buttler (106) and Ben Stokes (62) had not put in a 169-run partnership over four hours.

“We have got a little bit of time now to go away and reflect on what has been a difficult week,” Root said. “But in England we are a very good side at bouncing back from a tough couple of days – and one thing you can never question about this group of players is the character and the way they can respond to a difficult passage of play.”

Root said there had been a brain storming session, without revealing details. But India, the visiting side, rediscovering its collective batting confidence, leaves England in a race against time.

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 19:34 IST