India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 1st day

Mixed results for India's gamble

Having gambled with a slow, low surface, India will be pleased with their position but an extra seamer and bowling last could mean England have the edge

George Dobell in Nagpur

December 13, 2012

Comments: 79 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott combined to add 86, India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 1st day, December 13, 2012
England needed grind from chiefly Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Joe Root and Matt Prior to build a score © BCCI
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This was a bizarre day's cricket. It featured an ill-balanced attack against a sometimes ill disciplined batting line-up on as slow a pitch as England, at least, have played on this century.

That it generated a certain drama was more due to the position of the series than the thrill of the cricket. Indeed, as Test cricket fights for relevance, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that pitches like this represent one of the greatest threats to its future.

Some will rile at that. They will claim - quite rightly - that India have the right to produce any surface they like for a home series. But this is not a pitch that will suit India any more than it will suit England. It is sluggish and uneven and helps neither the batsmen nor the bowler with the greatest skill. It is not a pitch that rewards good cricket. It is not a pitch that rewards spectators; be they at the ground or watching at home. It is not a good pitch.

Progress, with bat or ball, can be made. But it can be made, for batsmen or bowlers, only with dogged persistence. There is some merit in that; Test cricket is meant to reward persistence and consistency, after all. But it is also meant to reward flair and skill and produce entertaining cricket and it cannot be ignored that around 40,000 of this stadium's 45,000 seats were empty. Who is going to pay to watch a run-rate below two and bowlers hoping to bore out batsmen?

India took a gamble with this pitch. Having been outplayed in the last two Tests despite designing the surfaces and winning the toss, they may have reasoned that, in normal conditions, they will struggle to compete with England. After six losses in the seven previous Tests between them, it is an understandable conclusion. Their solution is a surface that should negate pace or high bounce - two of England's strengths - and should also guarantee a definitive result.

That their gamble has, in part, come off owes plenty to some weak batting from England. While timing the ball was tricky throughout the day and run-scoring desperately difficult, all the wickets - with the exception of Alastair Cook, who was undone by an umpiring mistake - were due to batsman error. Certainly Jonathan Trott can have few excuses for leaving a straight one that hit his off stump, while Ian Bell's tame catch to cover will have done nothing to appease the growing band of cynics who question his long run in the team. He will know he surrendered his wicket too easily.

 
 
Of the five debutants England have utilised this year - Compton, Patel, Bairstow and Taylor are the others - Joe Root's has been the most impressive beginning
 

Such wickets tend to fall on these pitches, though. It is not that batsmen receive unplayable deliveries as much as the fact they face so few scoring opportunities. With the lack of pace reducing the opportunities to pull, cut, nudge or deflect, batsmen were obliged to wait for the longest of hall-volleys before going on the attack. Even long-hops - and Piyush Chawla delivers plenty - are problematic on such a low, uneven surface and, in their desire to force the pace, forcing shots offer catching opportunities.

But part of India's gamble has backfired. Not only did they lose the toss and give first use of the pitch to England's batsmen - it may be more appropriate to say they gave last use to England's bowlers - and it will have been worrying for them to see that Ishant Sharma, their lone seamer, was easily the most dangerous of the bowlers. Had he enjoyed some fast bowling support rather than a band of spinners for whom the surface offered little, England might have been dismissed already.

India can take comfort in the absence of the injured Steven Finn. He may have been a horrible proposition on this surface, though if England's seamers bowl with control, they too will surely prove hard to master.

That the day ended with honours just about even - it would be a brave fellow who tried to predict a par score on this wicket - was a reflection of some disciplined batting from Pietersen, an impressive debut from Joe Root and some typical defiance from Matt Prior and Trott.

If there are any question marks about Pietersen's greatness at this stage of his career - and there really shouldn't be - they focus on his inability to grind out runs in conditions where it is not realistic to counterattack and there are few release options. So that he failed to score from 154 of the 188 balls he faced speaks volumes for his discipline, his sound defensive technique and the begrudging pitch. He scored from only four of the 51 deliveries he faced from Pragyan Ojha.

Root was admirably unflustered. Though not especially tall, no-one in the England team with the exception of Pietersen gets as far forward as Root and few play as straight. His reach and intent provided run-scoring opportunities and at no stage did he allow any frustration to coax him into a rash stroke; even against the tight Ravindra Jadeja, off whom he scored just two singles in 32 deliveries.

Root's stand with Prior - worth 60 at this stage - rescued England from a precarious position and of the five debutants England have utilised this year - Nick Compton, Samit Patel, Jonny Bairstow and James Taylor are the others - his has been the most impressive beginning. It says much about a team in transition and still searching for replacements for Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood that all five are batsmen but Root has already given himself an excellent chance of winning a longer run in the side.

Credit is also due to the England management who selected him. Root would, in normal circumstances, have had to wait behind Bairstow and, perhaps, Eoin Morgan for an opportunity. But, with Graham Thorpe providing encouraging reports about Root's ability to counter spin both last winter - during the Lions and England Performance Programme (EPP) tours - and during his century for the EPP squad a couple of weeks ago, he has leap-frogged his rivals. Bairstow looked unconvincing in Mumbai and Morgan has yet to prove that his struggles against spin in the UAE were an aberration. Root was selected partially as a "horse for the course" and took his opportunity well. It was noticeable that both Bairstow and Patel, though obviously disappointed, congratulated Root warmly as his Test cap was presented by Collingwood.

A glance at the first innings scores in the three previous Tests at the ground would suggest England are still in some trouble. In the first Test here, in 2008, India scored 441 and won heavily; in the second, in 2010, South Africa scored 558 for 6 and won by an innings and in the most recent, in 2010, New Zealand were bowled out for 193 and lost by an innings. But these are not normal conditions. England certainly still have work ahead of them to establish a strong first innings platform but they are not in quite such a precarious position as the scorecard might suggest.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by tests_the_best on (December 14, 2012, 15:05 GMT)

@Tlotoxl and @Mitcher, point taken that broadly speaking crowds are attracted by exciting cricket but there are other factors that determine attendance. If eng were bowled out for 250 and india were 150 for not too many by end of day 2, you can be sure that crowd attendance would have surged for the 3rd day (which it would anyway being a weekend). Point being there are lots of factors that determine attendance including weekends/home team performance and so on and blaming it all on the pitch is taking it too far. Atleast this pitch is bound to produce a result, too bad it's not the result the crowds want to see.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 12:23 GMT)

its so funny seeing many supporting playing in such pitch...lol..i sincerely hope that the team making this sort of negative pitch are caught in their own tricks...shame to them who also supports this type of ploy....cricket is played with skill not by money.....its very nice to see arrogant, overpaid and overrated players are done and dusted in own courtyard...it is nothing but the victory to this glorious game of cricket.....

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (December 14, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

@cricket_lover1969 Strangely, India's run rate is almost identical to the English run rate. Do you now condemn the Indian approach? This is simply a difficult pitch to score fast on and is testing the skill of batsmen. I have no particular complaints with that. I do have a beef with the constant overuse of the word "whinge" to describe any opposing point of view but then...

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 14, 2012, 10:50 GMT)

@ jimbond on (December 14 2012, 01:53 AM GMT) Completely agree. George is, well, not good. .. Likes to have a whinge, does George. .. At the time of writing India are 75/4 so it appears that there IS something there for the bowlers. .. ..

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

MS dhoni is hanging on to captaincy b cos if he loses captaincy he also loses his place as there are better wicket keepers than him and his batting is dismal. He's loses cataincy its end of his cricketing career. Any way he made 300 crores.

Posted by Suman_Star on (December 14, 2012, 10:03 GMT)

@KiwiRocker --> Dude...grow up...Yes I agree that this is not a common pitch (means normal bounce, normal carry to keeper etc..) but then that is the challenge of test cricket. I still remember the pitches u guys produced in 2002 where little known ...hell even i forgot that bowlers name.. yeah i remember "Tuffy" became like Marshall. 1) Abandon this match -- > Are you CRAZY ?? 2) India's test Status --> Yes its been difficult with IPL and stuff..but a new team is in transition and once honi, Sehwag etc go out we will again rise. Bottomline -->India has always been and will always be above NZ. PERIOD.

Posted by baskar_guha on (December 14, 2012, 9:50 GMT)

This is my third post -- Dobell doesn't like to publish what I write. But I will say this anyways -- the pitch is a fair pitch; yes it is not an English pitch but this is India. Test cricket is about playing in all conditions. There is nothing sacred about bounce, seam etc etc so those who keep talking about it are unwilling to accept that cricket is not about what is played in England, South Africa and Australia.

Posted by Punter-Fan on (December 14, 2012, 9:22 GMT)

@KiwiRocker...completely agree with you,indian are desperate to win this test...

Posted by ooper_cut on (December 14, 2012, 9:04 GMT)

I am sorry, it was the ENGLISH approach to their batting which made it a bad day of cricket. The boundaries were left open, but they will not play a single aggressive shot. ENGLAND are only playing for a draw here, very obvious. So stop blaming the pitch, its fine, you will see when the other team bats.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 14, 2012, 8:41 GMT)

This has to stop. Where is ICC? Why ICC is not taking notice of all these negative tactics by BCCI. SL was recently penalized for a negative pitch and so should be the case with this Nagpur test. I do not recall any team in recent history that has been so desperate and gone to such great lengths to win a test match. India used similar extremely negative tactics during world cup by having all their matches scheduled nicely,using special cricket balls, 65M grounds and then using DRS when it helped them. Same was done for Indian team in recent T20 WC, where India was based at one single venue. The biggest irony is that India still lost. ICC has to stand up and show some leadership instead of acting as a servent. Two things needs to happen,BCCI should be questioned about this pitch and match should be abondoned.Secondly,ICC needs to review India's test status urgently as a team that has lost 10 of 12 test matches is not good enough to play test cricket!India was gona white wash England eh!

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 7:06 GMT)

The way Indian strategy looks like they are having doubts in their batting. That is why they have picked players like Ravindra Jadeja when there is already Ohaja in the team. No need of 2 left arm spinners. Team management pick up the bowlers who can bat a bit. That is why bowlers like Awana and Dinda were not selected. It is shame that players like Gambhir, Sehwag, Sachin, Pujara, Kohli and Dhoni cannot bat one full session in a test match. That is why 4 spinners attack, Piyush Chawala selection was poor one. He is neither so effective with ball nor a great batsman. Why can team management of India try with Awana, without giving him chance how can team know his potentiality. See England was struggle at 139/5 but allowed them to get into game and now they can easily get 300 runs and put pressure on India. I hope Team India comes with better batting performance if not this test too will be lost cause.

Posted by binender123 on (December 14, 2012, 7:05 GMT)

What is use of piyush chawla here in this test i still cannot understand......and what a foolish scod selection for the match.....Frustrated to watch....

Posted by NonStriker on (December 14, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

Short memory @Arvind? Early days for this test too.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 5:59 GMT)

The way England is batting in this test, it is no wonder very few watch test cricket anymore. Played like this, test cricket deserves to die soon. Sehwag, KP are among very few who have preserved some excitement in test cricket.

Posted by cnksnk on (December 14, 2012, 4:36 GMT)

Folks. This is TEST cricket and the key word is TEST. By all yardstick this wicket is different and is testing the skills of the batsmen and the bowlers. While it may not make pleasent watching, it is still testing the players to come out on top. A good test wicket is not only about bounce , pace and carry. Low bounce, lack of pace is actually contra and does test skills of all the players. To that extent I am not too sure why every one is blaming the pitch. If this is a test of the players skills then I think it is a good wicket.. let us wait and watch on how India bat and England bowl.

Posted by TATTUs on (December 14, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

So has the English decided come what may, we will deride the pitch for the fourth test as we are already 2-1 up? Same happened against South Africa. Leave the pitch aside please. Its there for both the teams to exploit as it was clearly shown in Mumbai.

40000 seats were empty because of the pitch! C'Mon. Does that mean spectators knew what to expect? Or is it because of Indias postition in this series and yesterday being a working day and the Test match happening in a middleclass city? Try to be reasonable.

Thirdly Test cricket or any sport needs to be dynamic and not monotonous. The same match being played 500 times is the problem. So once in a while an attritional pitch like this is ok.

To sum it up, author doesnt have a point.

Posted by mgkhalid on (December 14, 2012, 3:59 GMT)

How the hell can BCCI appreciate this move of having 4 spinners and one seamer in the team. This means five out of eleven as as good as not there to bat. Gambhir, Sachin, Pujara and Kohli are out of form. Dhoni himself is a liability to the team. So even if England score 300 plus, where r the runs going to come from. Miracles dont win matches often. History repeats again. I am at loss to understand this stupid move of Dhoni to select this team. Forget winning to tie the series, even draw seems to b a remote possibility.

Posted by dc2727 on (December 14, 2012, 3:30 GMT)

I don't mind the pitch. Players need to adpat and bat on all kind of surfaces across the world and bowlers goes by the same logic. And, unless both teams bat once, one cannot predict which way the game is heading. But I am sure, this pitch is a result-oriented one and that's good! Pietersen showed some gumption to hang-in! I hope the Indians do the same and that includes Sehwag too!

Posted by joseyesu on (December 14, 2012, 3:22 GMT)

Talk of pitch worries me. Depending on spinners entirely is one of the reason for India's failure. Ind is not good in second innings and i am expecting the same result.

Posted by Punjami on (December 14, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

FOUR SPINNERS - too much of a luxury as no one measures up to the famouus spin quatret once India had. Score board could have sounded more musical to Indian ears had it read 199 for 7. Again a plot or two missed from about 130 and odd for 5. Why was Ash underbowled?

Posted by jimbond on (December 14, 2012, 1:53 GMT)

"helps neither the batsmen nor the bowler with the greatest skill' but when KP or Root do well, its a sign of their greatness. Indeed! and I thought Dhoni was the only guy obsessed with pitches. While India in the present setup seem perfectly incapable of winning, people like Dobell are scared about the first test scenario repeating itself, and are already searching for excuses. Why cant we accept the simple fact that conditions across the world are different. It is difficult to adjust to different conditions for the players, but when they do (as England did in the past two tests) they can win- especially if the local team does not play well. That's why overseas wins are so cherished and are so sought after.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 1:51 GMT)

India cannnot expect to win with one seamer and four spinners. The spinners do not know how and when to bowl a straight delivery. They have Shewag and Kholi so they did not really need for specialist spinners.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 1:40 GMT)

If a pitch yields a result in a Test match, it is a good pitch, end of debate. There have been so called many good test pitches which have ended in boring draws. I actually prefer bowling friendly pitch for Test and batting friendly pitch for ODI and T20, that is the way it should be.

Posted by NindersXI on (December 13, 2012, 23:52 GMT)

Slow Pitch? Hard to bat on? Need dogged approach? Slow and dead slow? Batsmen can't be aggressive? All these questions will be answered after India bats..and by India I mean Virender Sehwag.

Posted by aracer on (December 13, 2012, 23:46 GMT)

"But this is not a pitch that will suit India any more than it will suit England. It is sluggish and uneven and helps neither the batsmen nor the bowler with the greatest skill." - surely a pitch which doesn't help the batsmen and bowlers with the most skill suits India down to the ground?

Posted by BigDataIsAHoax on (December 13, 2012, 23:40 GMT)

Blablablabla. Personally I feel the author is going way over the top here. India bowled really tight lines and England played it WAY TOO SAFE. England are NOT trying to win this match and just get a draw by batting out time.

Posted by ZedInLosAngles on (December 13, 2012, 23:20 GMT)

The wicket is not as bad as it is being out to be in this article. It is different from from the "norm". But so were the pitches in England and Australia. The pitch had low and variable bounce, but it was NOT unplayable. It may deteriorate in the next few days though. As far as first day is concerned, England were over cautious or one could say did not counter the slowness and variable bounce well. The judgement was passed before the second team batted or bowled.

In summary, over-blown article.

Posted by PGSGimson on (December 13, 2012, 22:59 GMT)

@kingofspain "Unless, of course, the only thing you find interesting is boundaries and huge scores"

I think the point about the pitch is that bowlers can't get anything out of the pitch either. It doesn't sound like there is any difficulty in staying at the crease but batsman don't get any reward from playing good shots. Bowlers aren't able to get any turn or movement, so are forced to cut off runs and bowl defensively.

I get bored of 500/600+ first innings wickets and enjoy watching bowlers showcase there skill. The only skill that this pitch appears to showcase is determination and concentration - important skills but not exactly thrilling

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 22:49 GMT)

Much as I've enjoyed this series, it'll be a blessed relief when it's over, not because it's been either dull or a mismatch, but because playing India is akin to being forced to babysit a particularly obnoxious child who throws its toys out of its pram if it's not allowed to do exactly as it likes. From the refusal to deploy DRS (not hard to work out why, given that umpires - such as Steve Bucknor & Daryl Harper - who incur the displeasure of the BCCI inevitably come to a sticky end), to the denial of genuine match practice against even halfway decent spinners, to the feeble attempts to blackmail the British media, to the blatant doctoring of pitches, to the incessant bleating of Indian fans on forums such as these, pretty much everything that involves any kind of interaction at all with Indian cricket beyond what happens on the field of play is hugely unpleasant. Can't wait to play against decent, sporting teams such as NZ, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, SA & the Windies again.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (December 13, 2012, 21:57 GMT)

I'm more concerned about Prior now since twice he's been not out overnight only to give his wicket away the next morning. For Root, tomorrow morning would be like he's just opening the batting so I am confident he might be able to stick around. The key could well be Bresnan and if he can replicate his Bangladesh knock, England may just be able to suck the life out of this match.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 13, 2012, 21:39 GMT)

I would like to thank BCCI for leaving out Zaheer. Very generous indeed.

Posted by JG2704 on (December 13, 2012, 21:29 GMT)

There have been alot of comments (some balanced/some trash talking) saying what will be a good score. Truth is no one knows what will be a good score til both sides have batted. It could simply be a pitch which England batsmen will struggle on but which India will make look easy. I'm disappointed we didn't go for Tredwell in for Patel but then Root would not have played and he so far has looked excellent. Obviously (Root) he could have come in for a more established batsman who has never really looked comfortable in these conditions and Tredwell come in for Patel but that would never happen. Also maybe Meaker (an obvious like for like replacement for Finn) may not have done so well on this pitch where his pace will have been negated by the slowness of the pitch. Bres above Onions - who knows whether it's the right decision

Posted by Mitcher on (December 13, 2012, 21:21 GMT)

@tests_the_best: I think the point is more that there were only 5000 people on day one, so once they've seen what's on offer what chance a big crowd for the rest of the match or in the future?

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 20:30 GMT)

With pitch playing low and slow, I think that India has a huge opportunity to draw the series. Panesar is bowling at least 10 miles more than his Indian counter parts becomes easy meat for the batsmen. Unless they bowl wicket to wicket all the time, I can not see England seamers controlling the free-stroking Indian batsmen, who has realized that bounce will not be more than knee high regardless of who is bowling..If only India could restrict England to below 250 by bowling them out before lunch, they should look to bat just once in this test match and should go all out in getting the England batsmen on a crumbling day 4 and day 5 pitch....There is a good chance of India drawing the series, let us hope that happens...

Posted by Dunross on (December 13, 2012, 20:24 GMT)

Ian Bell should be dropped from the england team and be replaced by Bairstow

Posted by IndianSRTfan on (December 13, 2012, 20:17 GMT)

.....But this is not a pitch that will suit India any more than it will suit England. It is sluggish and uneven and helps neither the batsmen nor the bowler with the greatest skill. It is not a pitch that rewards good cricket. It is not a pitch that rewards spectators; be they at the ground or watching at home. It is not a good pitch. Mr Dobell, Stop whining about pitches and talk about Kevin Pietersen who played an innings that was as important as any on this pitch. Seriously England should manufacture a strip of pitch roll it up and take it with them everywhere they fo and play on that. Learn to accept conditions are different everywhere.

Posted by Roger_Allott on (December 13, 2012, 20:07 GMT)

I'll be satisfied if we can bat until half way into the afternoon session tomorrow, which I reckon will be a score of about 300. I expect us then to get Gambhir, Sehwag & Kohli for not very many, so it's down to Pujara & Tendulkar to see if they can create a 1st innings lead. The pitch is woeful. Nothing whatsoever for seamers, spinners or stroke-makers, and the lack of DRS means that even for batsmen who knuckle down and grind, they're at the mercy of umpiring errors. All in all, this match had all of the elements that could have made it absolutely enthralling, but they've been meticulously chucked away by whoever prepared the pitch. I can't see how this pitch could be what the Indians needed, which was something that guaranteed a result and would suit the stroke-play of Sehwag, Tendulkar, Kohli & Dhoni.

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 13, 2012, 20:05 GMT)

For me this is US open pitch. Not birdie (runs) fest PGA tour. I think pitch is fine for me. It tests your patience and temparament and will to stay at crease at any cost. It is great challenge. You can't have every pitch same. I am cool with picth. India had to find something to help them. People kept saying dust bowl in India and I have not seen single dust bowl pitch so far. All english media over hype... Mumbai test exposed england spinners are better. If india produce spinning pitch they would be done. if they produce green pitch also india would be done because india do not have penetrating bowlers. India is in transition. I want Kohli or gambhir to lead new young team not dhoni. I hope england win this test and we can done with sachin and dhoni

Posted by yorkshirematt on (December 13, 2012, 19:52 GMT)

@Jose Puliampatta YES!!! We're very proud of that fact too.

Posted by Vindaliew on (December 13, 2012, 19:49 GMT)

I seriously don't think that this is a pitch Dhoni ordered, and the pitch behaviour probably wasn't deliberate. If it was, Dhoni would have played 3 seamers - what sort of idiot would order a pitch like that and only select one seamer and 3 spinners? I'm enjoying it, though - far too many batsman-friendly pitches around - great to see batsmen work really hard for each run, and I will mean it when India are batting too. Reminds me of Headingley in the old days.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 19:48 GMT)

I watched the New Zealand game in 2010 - this pitch is nothing like that. 2010 played true and nice for 2 and a half days. New Zealand bowled badly (and their bowlers are no where NEAR the quality of Englands) The New Zealand pitch was a first innings 450+ pitch - this is a 250-300 pitch. England well on par for a good score for the conditions. Then bowlers bowl straight - variable bounce LBW in play from the middle of the second day onwards when the ball skids. Panesar and Anderson to clean up India for under 150 in less than 2 sessions. In the NZ game it was Dravid who held the innings together with almost 200 runs, Sreesanth and Baja who took the wickets. None are playing here. Dhoni got 3 umpiring errors in his favour on his way to a very lucky 90 odd is the only major Indian contributor to that game playing, and he looks like he'd rather be anywhere other than playing cricket. Dhoni looks as shot as I've ever seen any captain for any team.

Posted by subbass on (December 13, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

England just needs to do one thing, Stay at the wicket as much as possible. I see IND in deep trouble already

---------

Valid point, as despite the low runs England are only 5 down with Swann batting @ number 9.So long as we get over 300 I think we will win the game. Hopefully we shall still have an exciting finish on the cards ! I don't really have an issue with the pitch prepared for the simple fact that it is their call to make, however their decision to only play one seamer could yet bite them on the backside. One thing is for sure I don't see the game ending a draw. Be nice to get the 3-1 our cricket has deserved though and then have an aggregate scoreline against the ahem 'Galctico's' of a whopping 7-1 !

But they will hammer us in the odi's, but that did not matter in the UAE did it !

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 13, 2012, 19:18 GMT)

@Shafaqat Ali: Keep dreaming ! I expect India to play much better on this pitch. There is NOTHING in it for the bowlers. So it's up to the batsmen to gift their wickets away. India are the ones looking for a win so they must bat sensibly for any chance of winning. I am sure they will be up for it.

Posted by SDHM on (December 13, 2012, 19:17 GMT)

@venkatesh018 - I personally think that the reason Onions isn't picked is because he's seen as cover for Anderson, much like Meaker was brought in as cover for Finn. I certainly think Onions should've been playing this game - what Bresnan has done to warrant a recall after a torrid year, I don't know, and also with the uneven bounce on show, the wicket-to-wicket line he bowls would have been extremely threatening.

Posted by SDHM on (December 13, 2012, 19:06 GMT)

It's so interesting to read the reactions on here - some have India on top, others have England by a nose, others have it dead even, which surely shows you no-one quite knows what to make of this pitch. I for one think it's awful - it's not necessarily difficult to bat on, but it's definitely difficult to score on. You can't judge it until both sides have bowled though - Sehwag of course could make it look like a belter, or England could exploit the uneven bounce better and make 200-5 in a day look like a pretty good effort. Definitely think if England can find a way to struggle up towards 300, taking time out of the game as they do, then they're more than in the game.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 13, 2012, 19:03 GMT)

In many ways this is actually good for Test cricket because it showcases the extremes of conditions possible. As long as a pitch is not designed for a draw then it's all good. Sure there's nothing like watching a swinging seaming fast bowler rough up a batsman or be taken on by the batsman, but a pitch like this does have its charms.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 18:45 GMT)

it was a gem of a WORST PITCH

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 13, 2012, 18:34 GMT)

I think English fans should be quiet about the pitch SHHHHhhhhh. And the Indian fans should hope our bowling continues to be good on the second day. Nothing can be said until India bats on this pitch.

Posted by Rahulbose on (December 13, 2012, 17:55 GMT)

Your rant about the quality of the pitch is baseless. By your biased definition only pitches that suit English team are to be deemed of good quality? This test will produce a result and that is what you want. Eng batsmen made it look harder to score than it was, I will bet Sehwag can score at a decent pace on this wicket.

Posted by EnglishCricket on (December 13, 2012, 17:55 GMT)

@Alexk400 - Who would want to watch and waste their time watching a long boring test match like today? unless you're retired or unemployed :)

Posted by SirViv1973 on (December 13, 2012, 17:54 GMT)

@Hobbart, I Concure I think how many Ind get 1st inns will decide the match. They will need a lead, Even 30 or 40 might well be enough in what is likely to be a low scorer. I feel if Eng can get up to 300 tomorrow and take another 45 - 50 overs out of the game then its going to be extremely tough for the Indians to get any sort of lead.

Posted by Tlotoxl on (December 13, 2012, 17:45 GMT)

tests_the_best: I think the Authors point is that this type of pitch is hardly likely to produce entertaining exciting cricket and attract new fans to the sport, people want to see top quality batting and bowling rewarded not a test to be a lottery where even the best batsman in the world can get a shooter and be bowled by the worst bowler in test cricket.

Posted by thejesusofcool on (December 13, 2012, 16:57 GMT)

This wicket has two speeds-dead slow and dead.

India will have to bat with their once-traditional grit and application to get a good lead and so far in this series, they've rarely looked up to it.

Someone, and preferably two other someones, other than Pujara, have to knuckle down & make 80-100 apiece. I don't think there's enough bounce in this pitch to make batting 4th a nightmare, but India's problem may come in trying to establish a decent lead on 1st innings at anything quicker than 45 runs an hour!

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 16:54 GMT)

I think the real nature of the pitch will b determined only once india also bat...also england were over defensive and that is the reason why some of those wickets fell... sure the pitch is slow and low but thats what you should expect in india but i think england made it look even worse...

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 13, 2012, 16:44 GMT)

Why they have TEST in empty stadium Nagpur is beyond common sense. They could have Full House in chennai or bangalore

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

England just needs to do one thing, Stay at the wicket as much as possible. I see IND in deep trouble already

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 16:34 GMT)

Rahane should have played...either Sachin or Sehwag should have been made to sit out ..making the same mistake we did in Eng Aus...no exposure at highest level of Test Match to Manoj Tiwary, A rahane n Rohit Sharma...which is so important if India r to be no 1 test side once again....where is development prgrm..whr r long term goals....????????

Posted by kingofspain on (December 13, 2012, 16:25 GMT)

I don't get some of the criticisms re: run rate and the pitch in general. Sure, we wouldn't want every pitch to be like this but it's interesting to watch matches in different conditions. Unless, of course, the only thing you find interesting is boundaries and huge scores. Tell me - what is the minimum run rate for cricket to be "interesting?"

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 16:22 GMT)

Joe Roots, good show on debut. Does Yorkshire produce Boycott clones?

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

This is the way Test cricket used to be, most of the time, in most countries, till a few maverick batsmen, like Viv Richards, or Ian Botham burst-ed on to the scene. Slow. Grinding. 200 for 5 on opening day? Always used to be hailed as evens stevens. And a good game. Where both batsmen & bowlers played their role well. We never used to talk about the pitch, since it was the same story, in any kind of pitch. This is a throwback to those days, to be viewed like on old black & white movie, more often seen, in sepia tones (not as a white dried up riverbed, as we saw today). Has any one seen a movie which got projected to the screen by a guy sitting in the projection room, rotating the role by hand, at different speeds, depending on how energetic or tired he feels? Most probably, not. Ask, some one in his 70's or 80's. He will tell you, what entertainment was all about in those days. Now, you guys, spoilt for choice! Don't believe me? Ask Boyce? Or, his Mom! Boyce wouldn't mind!

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 15:57 GMT)

Negative mindset and denial to accept their flaws is what is costing India endless losses. 4 spinners is an over kill for a side that also has Sehwag who bowls decent off spin. Also, as mentioned the pitch would benefit the batsmen who possess "dodgy persistence". So that leaves only poor Pujara to carry India's batting line up. Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, they are all swashbuckling hitters who would find run scoring even more tougher as English bowlers have more discipline as well. So what has changed, really? Just like Ahmedabad, if Pujara scored big, India will win, otherwise it is 3-1.

Posted by Viru219 on (December 13, 2012, 15:53 GMT)

IPL has destroyed the the integrity in this Indian team. Earlier, it used to be One-indian team, now it's been divided in to pieces. IPL means - (I)ndian (P)artition (L)eague. If you play for Chennai, there are high chances of playing in Indian national team, irrespective of your skill or record.

Posted by renegademike on (December 13, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

agreed the pitch was devoid of all the life and moistute and scoring runs was difficult. but eng did loose 5 wickets.this pitch will produce a result (atleast thats wat I derived after watching the day) and thats what you want from a pitch at the end of 5 days. I can only think that it deteriorates and not become even more flat if the moisture goes away after rolling tomomorrow. but as the people are saying that its not been watered for 3 days then I guess its only gonna go slower and lower. but as they never try to evaluate a pitch untill both sides have played on it. and in this case only 1 day has gone and lots of cricket is yet to be played. so lets w8 and watch and then talk about it.

Posted by tests_the_best on (December 13, 2012, 15:40 GMT)

Some points in the article don't make sense. This is a slow, sluggish pitch alright but it seems poised to produce a result, which makes it better than a run-fest pitch that produces a draw. Also, the 40000 out of 45000 seats empty argument is out of line. Most people knew if they were going to attend the first day game before the match and before they had seen how the pitch was going to behave. More ppl might have trickled in if india were batting so it's unfair to blame the pitch for poor attendance.

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 13, 2012, 15:35 GMT)

it may suit india to play the game as a 50 overs odi. as that fits into their mindset.

Posted by SnowSnake on (December 13, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

England deserve to win this series because they has shown that they can and are willing to learn. England seems to have the right strategy. They know they are leading and do not want to lose any wickets and are taking it slow. This is what India should have done in last two tests when they batted first. However, either the overconfidence in their own batting or homeconditions got in their way. In either case, it was a boring series. I won't blame the ptiches because the pitches did yield results as opposed to draws.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 15:23 GMT)

I like that Collingwood presented Root's cap, and I like how this article points out that England are having some difficulty replacing him. His contribution can be missed in the other long- and shorter-term issues of the team.

Posted by big_al_81 on (December 13, 2012, 15:21 GMT)

Got to agree with the article and with landl47. On the subject of horses for courses isn't it time to start asking why we say that for bowlers but not for batsmen? No-one will be surprised or annoyed if Monty is replaced with a seamer for most of the Ashes series back home yet we seem to think that batsmen should play in all conditions. Let's just give up on Bell in Asia (it won't hurt for him to spend time at home with a young family anyway) and play players who don't have his mental shortcomings in these conditions. landl47's point about timing and backlift is interesting to note too. India's two greats - Dravid and Tendulkar have played well everywhere, England's greats-in-the-making, Cook and KP can play everywhere, but shouldn't talented but more brittle batsmen like Bell, Trott, Sehwag, Laxman all have been used as horses for courses? Why should bowlers accept this but not batsmen?

Posted by Hobbart on (December 13, 2012, 15:05 GMT)

England really don't need to bother about this Indian gamble as they just need to face two of them at a time....lolss...

Posted by kreeketer on (December 13, 2012, 15:01 GMT)

Very Interesting Landl...Interesting article given the situation of the series.... Ian Bell as you have mentioned bats brilliant and i am sure he is just out of form and unlucky for him, the pitches are more adding pain...

India as everyone knows has a weaker middle order and it will test them more than this fighting lower middle order with especially Prior still at the crease....All the Indian middle order starting from Sachin, Virat and Dhoni has only managed an innings high of 50+ as their individual score...not looking good for India...this first day

Posted by Hobbart on (December 13, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

@landl47 : I agree that England need to really occupy the crease, more so in this first innings, as the situation won't be too much in their control in the second innings when the pitch will dictate terms profoundly. The remaining 5 English wickets need to dig it out for as long as they can.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 14:52 GMT)

Good article. This isn't a typical pitch and there is no telling how many runs is enough. My gut feeling is 300+ is a match winning score as the track will only get more difficult to bat on as the ball starts to go sideways. Only time will tell with India's 4 spinners but seems overkill to me when Sharma is looking the most threatening. Was it worth playing 2 spinners bowling 13 overs each instead of another seamer? Bell would've got out to anybody in his current form. I do feel batsman get use to a diet of non stop spin,just as playing 4 seamers often doesn't bring much benefit over 3 seamers. If Anderson and Bresnan cause problems we'll know the answer.

Posted by Hobbart on (December 13, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

What will decide the outcome of this Test will be the Indian first innings more than any of the other three innings, if heavens don't fall in them !

Posted by Samdanh on (December 13, 2012, 14:46 GMT)

England would be safer if they scored around 300. Their seamers should bowl wicket to wicket, more of the in swingers, more full, to target lbws. Even Panesar and Swann would do well to vary their pace and length subtly to cause damage to the determined India batting line up. Eng should also learn from Dhoni's field placements today. It was one of Dhoni's best shows on the field though the pitch conditions had an impact too. If England can extend batting till lunch it will be better for them. If they can take any extra time and runs, they could be in a better position by end of day tomorrow

Posted by Nampally on (December 13, 2012, 14:45 GMT)

George, I don't think any curator can make a pitch to order specially in combination of a Turner + choice of low or bouncy one. You also say that the fast bowler will rule supreme on this pitch. That remains to be seen. Neither of Ishant's wickets came on good balls. Compton was fishing for the balls outside the off whilst Cook was beaten by a seamer that came in. The patience needed on such pitches was demonstrated by Cook, in series. After his early dismissal, Root was the only other guy who showed that patience. As for the pitch both sides play on the same surface.So there is nothing in it with England having the advantage of batting first. But it boils down to which side has better ability to stay at the crease & score runs. Actually as you say Root & Prior rescued England from 139 for 5 with 60 run partnership even though England won the toss. I am sure many Indian batsmen never played on a similar pitch either.So the game is wide open+ well poised & likely to produce a result.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (December 13, 2012, 14:44 GMT)

Joe Root has made the most confident debuts seen from an English batsman in a long time, especially in the sub continent. The lad looks a great long term prospect. Kudos to all those who selected him ahead of Bairstow and Patel. But why these bright minds can't pick Onions(clearly the second best paceman in England after Anderson) even when Broad, Finn are injured? Is he the fifth best paceman according to Flower & Co.?

Posted by Ven61 on (December 13, 2012, 14:39 GMT)

I do not believe that BCCI has the right to prepare pitches tailored to the Indian team. I believe we must prepare good test pitches; sporting ones that have something for everybody - spinner, pacer, batsmen. BCCI has let India down. Badly.

We have reduced the finest form of the game to such drudgery that it was impossible to watch even for die-hard test cricket fans. It has been a terrible day for cricket that ultimately had one loser - test cricket itself.

But at the end of the day, my opinion does not matter to BCCI or Dhoni.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 14:35 GMT)

Dhoni and Indians messed up, if they did not have faith in Ashwin and ojha they should have dropped one of them for Chawla and not drop a pace bowler for always injured Ishant. I am not sure I like the current Indian set up one bit. I hope they lose as these strategy is not good for the game or for the indian team. All these look like is patch work to cover excuses for failed batting line up...if Kohli fails this test also time to think of Rahane. I am not sure what Rahane has to do get a chance in the current indian set up,...maybe he should try playing for Chennai team

Posted by landl47 on (December 13, 2012, 14:18 GMT)

Interesting article. I've been a strong supporter of Bell, but when it comes to 'horses for courses', it has to be said that he hasn't adapted to subcontinental conditions. He's a batsman who relies on timing the ball and on pitches which stop his follow-through means that he's likely to lift the ball as he did today. I have no doubt he will continue to be a valuable player on wickets where the ball comes on to the bat, but this is probably his last test in the subcontinent. I'm impressed by Root; he's always looked a good player in the making, but I thought it would be a couple more years before he was ready for test cricket. He's looked very good so far in admittedly unusual conditions.

What the previous results say is that if you can bat for long enough on this pitch it falls to pieces and innings 3 and 4 are extremely difficult- in fact, there has only been one 4th innings. Occupying the crease is what England needs to do, for as long as possible.

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