June 22, 2024

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Rajkot Test: India Claims to Have Formula for Countering England’s Aggressive Batting.

Rajkot Test: India Claims to Have Formula for Countering England’s Aggressive Batting.

The rivalry between England’s Bazball and India’s Jamball, as termed by R Ashwin in a video on his YouTube channel, reached a critical juncture after the conclusion of the third Test. With India leading 2-1 following their monumental 434-run victory, coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma appeared to have deciphered the Bazball code and its 22-yard domain. As demonstrated in Rajkot, a ‘paata’ track, one that behaves predictably over the final two days, emerged as the ideal countermeasure against England’s aggressive Bazball approach.

Insiders suggest that the Indian team’s decision to eschew turning pitches wasn’t driven by ethical considerations but rather a calculated gamble on how it would fare against the English side. Despite Rohit Sharma’s disavowal of any involvement in pitch preparation, claiming they play on what the curator provides after arriving two days prior to the match, his deadpan delivery reflects why his acting prowess in advertisements has notably improved.

Ashwin, on the other hand, elucidated the strategy, emphasizing the intent to capitalize on potential fourth-innings scenarios as the pitch deteriorates. The current pitch conditions neutralize England’s pace spearhead Mark Wood, diminish the impact of inexperienced spinners like Tom Hartley and teenager Rehan Ahmed, and burden James Anderson with a hefty workload. The progression of spin in the Tests—from early in Hyderabad, delayed in Vizag, to very late in Rajkot—paints a telling picture. It’s not the second-innings performances of Yashasvi Jaiswal or Sarfaraz Khan that underscore the narrative but the ease with which nightwatchman Kuldeep Yadav batted on the fourth morning.

The blame for England’s significant defeat in the third Test falls squarely on the shoulders of two senior players who overstepped their boundaries in the game, breaching the established norms of cricket conduct.

This approach also serves as a challenge to the ego inherent in England’s Bazball culture. Ashwin’s remark, “We played four and a half sessions; [if] they want to get it done in two, so be it,” epitomizes this. The pitches facilitate England’s aggressive batting style, allowing for effective execution of flamboyant shots like Ben Duckett’s monstrous slog-sweeps, yet also luring them across the Lakshman Rekha of sensible aggression into self-destruction.

Notably, it’s the senior English batsmen—Joe Root and Ben Stokes, occasionally Ollie Pope—who falter in executing the Bazball strategy. Duckett and Crawley’s approach, grounded in calculated risk assessment, contrasts sharply. Root’s ill-timed reverse lap-scoop and Stokes’s misjudged slog sweep exemplify this disconnect.

With Bairstow’s slump persisting, England might consider alternatives like Dan Lawrence, who has honed his off-spin skills, and rest Wood in favor of Ollie Robinson, who demonstrated prowess on flat tracks in the Pakistan series.

The substantial victory margin in Rajkot belies the deeper story of the series and the game itself. Root’s lack of match awareness, exemplified by his reckless slog in Vizag, and Stokes’s poor shot selection hinder England’s prospects. Rectifying these issues and finding stability in the batting lineup could rejuvenate England’s chances. As the series progresses to Ranchi, speculation looms over the nature of the pitch and its potential impact on the match, particularly if India opts to rest Jasprit Bumrah.

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