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England's bowlers and Mohammad Kaif reaped the rewards of keeping it tight
March 3, 2006
When play began on the third day, with Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid well-entrenched at the crease and many stars to follow, few would have thought that India might at one stage be in danger of following on. That they were in such a position was largely due to outstanding efforts by Matthew Hoggard and Monty Panesar.
As the graphic below shows, both had impeccable control over the lengths they bowled. On a slow track, it was imperative to pitch the ball up to the bat, and cut the short deliveries to a minimum. Both Hoggard and Panesar managed that superbly. When they did err - and it wasn't often - it was on the fuller side.
Not only was Hoggard's length spot on, his line was exceptional too - out of 180 deliveries, 170 pitched around middle-and-off or further off side. To make it even worse for the batsmen, he moved the ball both ways - 58 deliveries came back into the batsmen, while 40 moved away. It was the perfect combination of accuracy and seam and swing, and the Indians had no answer.
They still managed to end the day in a comfortable position, thanks to Mohammad Kaif and Anil Kumble. Struggling to cement his place in the side, Kaif was understandably watchful for much of his innings - after 104 balls he had scored just 20, before he found a higher gear. His strokes chart indicates he played the percentages well - he eschewed the horizontal-bat shots and was well on his way to a century before Panesar produced a peach to sour the day.
Plays of the day from the fifth ODI in Ranchi
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough