India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 4th day October 3, 2016

Chopra: The angles' game and how breaks break stands

An analytical look at a few highlights from the fourth day's play between India and New Zealand in Kolkata
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Martin Guptill's mid-series technical adjustments helped him play the quick bowlers better in Kolkata © BCCI

Guptill in Kanpur, Guptill in Kolkata

Umesh Yadav trapped Martin Guptill in front in the first innings of the first Test. His head fell over, which resulted in the front leg falling across and therefore the bat coming down at an angle. Guptill's feet movement against pace at Eden Gardens is a good example of how batsmen work hard on addressing their areas of concern. In this innings, he kept the head a little straighter, which in turn meant that the front foot fell a lot straighter. It isn't easy to make technical adjustments in the middle of a series but you must keep striving for improvement. 

Modern-day batting v modern-day leadership

In the second innings of the first Test, Guptill got out to R Ashwin playing a slog-sweep without even opening the account. In this Test, Ashwin placed a long-on, a deep midwicket and a long leg from the very first ball to Guptill. The field stays the same for a few overs before lunch despite the batsman not attempting a single attacking shot in that direction. In the years gone by, Guptill's form and runs in the bank would have dictated a more attacking field but modern-day leadership is, perhaps, tuned to the mindset of a modern batsman. The idea is to cut off the boundary shots, for that apparently is likely to make the modern-day batsman more uneasy than more fielders closer to the bat in catching positions. 

Bat in front v bat on the side

In Kanpur, Ashwin accounted for Tom Latham in both the innings. On both occasions, he was adjudged leg before to balls that went straight after pitching. While Latham should not be blamed for playing for spin (it was a turning pitch in Kanpur), he was guilty of putting the bat besides the pad and not in front. The basics of playing spin is to keep the bat ahead of the front pad to ensure that not only you prevent the ball from hitting the pads but also makes sure that bat-pad doesn't go to the close-in fielders.

Ravindra Jadeja's change of angles limited Henry Nicholls' array of shots © BCCI

A game of angles

Ravindra Jadeja operated over the stumps to both left-handed batsmen - Latham and Henry Nicholls for a long time. Both batsmen settled into a nice rhythm of defending-sweeping the balls pitching outside off. The moment Jadeja went round the stumps, he got a wicket. The angle forced Nicholls to open up the stance a little and also abandon the sweep somewhat, for the balls were pitching and finishing within the stumps a lot more. The change of angle forced the change in tactics and produced a wicket. 

Breaks break partnerships

The fifth ball after lunch and the ninth ball after tea produced wickets. While Guptill was trapped lbw by Ashwin after the first break, it was the well-set Latham who edged one behind after the tea break, again off Ashwin. The best part about Test cricket is the breaks at various stages of the game. These breaks not only give players a break from the heat but also a chance for the teams to change momentum. On pitches like the one we saw at Eden Gardens, the importance of breaks can never be overstated. It's fairly tough to get set on a pitch where you can't trust the bounce and once set, you don't want the momentum to break but these compulsory breaks can't be avoided.

Aakash Chopra is the author of three books, the latest of which is The Insider: Decoding the craft of cricket. @cricketaakash

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sanjay Naidu on October 10, 2016, 7:53 GMT

    Excellent captaincy by kohli, didn't take ashwin off even though he is leaking runs and he returned the favour with 5 wickets, superb slip catch by rahane after its been deflected by keeper saha, not easy to catch those. But taking jadeja off after he almost took the wicketof neesham is not great, should have given couple more overs when NZ are neevous to play spin.

  • Jose...P on October 4, 2016, 16:28 GMT

    Breaks break. But whom?

    It is a double-edged word!

    In this series, it was the batsman's concentration, which got broken. That is true.

    But that need not be the case always. There are many bowlers, who are not at their best in their first few overs. Some get the right rhythm after some time. If the break comes in that process, just at the point it reaches at its smoothest flow. the break puts them back by a few overs!

    But, in any case, in the humid energy zapping ovens they are forced to display their art of play, with its full power & glory, I will never think of applying brakes on those breaks (even the unscheduled variety even at the risk of getting dubbed as delaying tactics). That stuff in the parenthesis in the last sentence is up to the umpires to correct it. So, I will leave THAT, at that!

  • Jose...P on October 4, 2016, 16:05 GMT

    A game of angles.

    All Indian bowlers are deploying this ploy, in this series. Unexpectedly. And certainly more productively.

    I suspect a possible link : Kumble!

    As all of us know, Kumble didn't have any big turn in his armour. Three things used to be his very effective weapons!

    One: The balls which goes straight with absolutely no turn.

    Two: Varying pace without any discernible cues.

    Three: Play with angles! Even there, he was more of a man of subtlety, than a blatant display - which, perhaps, caused less talk on this angle of his angles!

  • Jose...P on October 4, 2016, 15:55 GMT

    Tom Latham keeping the bat CLOSE to pad, instead of in FRONT of the pad, is a matter of Hobson's choice. When the bandwidth of line especially from spinners, on turn AFTER pitching is rather wider...

    Approach 1: In one approach (which he adopts), he close the gate and prevent the ball sneak through and crash his castle.

    Approach 2: If he keeps the bat in front, he may protect the pad with some wood, to prevent lbw, but the ball may pass by that extra layer which narrows the fort & crash the castle. Question of unpredictable band-width.

    May be in his cricketing upbringing in his own country, where lbws are of a lesser used weapon, the 1st approach may be his natural style! By the time one reaches the level of playing tests, that approach might even become a reflex action for the hands holding the bat...

    Once again, we are back to the major theme with brothers of NZ, across the Tasman may be discussing after their SL-test debacle; that is ADAPTING to newer conditions. Or lack of it

  • Cricinfouser on October 4, 2016, 15:40 GMT

    I think the comments also indicate the regressive thinking a section of the Indian fanbase. You've been taught since childhood that test match cricket is about leaving balls, patience etc. The game has changed now. It started with Waugh's Australia - none of their batsmen had strike rates below 50, but more importantly they changed matches in the course of a session with their aggressiveness. That's the kind of cricket Kohli and modern India want to play. That is the attitude that has produced ODI/T20 success and why Kohli has won 4 series in a row. His goal is to not just be ranked number 1, but to dominate in a way Waugh's Australia and Lloyd's WI did.

    Pujara/Vijay have strike rates below 50. Rahane's strike rate is fine but this is the guy that was dropped for not s. All three of them are guys that follow the pace of the game rather than dictate it. That is too many, especially when we choose to play 5 batsmen.

  • Jose...P on October 4, 2016, 15:31 GMT

    Thanks for the 'gupt gyan' (hidden knowledge) on Guptil. That's true.

    Wonder, why Hesson don't see it! Was Heson's view of Guptil covered with the hessian clothing, for so long?

    Kane & Guppy might not have attended the same dancing classes; so, no one will expect similar feet movements from both.

    Even so, in white ball cricket, I have seen him dancing down the pitch, to hoist the bowlers, who trip more on the length, than line. So there could be 2 issues: Technical & confidence.

    Swing (linked to line) tests test-openers, more. So, try shift Guppy down the line. Since the 2 WKs & 1 spinner are doing well with the bat, in the middle order quite well, Guppy can be in the middle of that, or just before that.

    Pl try, before consigning him to the 'waste bin' of test cricket.

    2nd issue is linked to his confidence in the long format.Hesson may take him indoors before Indore & give a fat wad of support, even more than a word of tech-advice.

    It might click! Who knows?

  • forExcelienceInCricket on October 4, 2016, 13:56 GMT

    Team India deserves credit for taking an unbeatable 2-0 lead over NZ. This is almost a repeat of the series v SA, IND had taken 2-0 lead after 3 matches with 1 match washed out.

    There is another coincidence between the 2 series by the time series was won. In the series v SA 2015, IND scored 789 runs in 2 matches with top 2 contributors being Vijay (165) & Pujara(161) with captain scoring 68 runs. In the series v NZ 2016, IND scored 1268 runs in 2 matches with top 3 contributors being Pujara(231), Rohit (187), Vijay(157) & with captain scoring 81 runs.

    The top 4 contributors in 16 wins from 2013 are 1. Ashwin 2. Jadeja 3. Pujara 4. Vijay though other players have also contributed.

    It is often forgotten that India's journey for top ranking started in 2013 with a 4-0 win over AUS in India under greatest ever captain in cricket history - MSD.

    It is therefore fair to say that captaincy credit for India's top test ranking is truly deserved by MSD.

  • sreenathanizham on October 4, 2016, 13:11 GMT

    @CRICINFOUSER....rahane 's strike rate is even more than kohli or par with kohli.rohit cannot be compared to rahane or pujara or vijay. look at the first 3 centuries of rahane, by the time he gotout, his strike rate was above 65.same is the case with vijay and pujara. rohit had never been into such situations, where he have to bat long time, bcoz he have perished early everytime team ants him to play long innings.

  • rochers on October 4, 2016, 6:12 GMT

    It doesnt have to be either--or . With 6 batsmen to play I think we can have a good mix attacking and defensive players. The batting line-up from Kolkata test was the best India has to offer barring Rahul coming back for Dhawan.

  • yoohoo on October 3, 2016, 18:09 GMT

    @CRICINFOUSER - Dhawan/Rohit have not got chances? How many matches have they won for india? Look at Rahane's strike rate. You want to replace vijay, who is one of the best openers in the world right now?

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