Rocking the traditional
How do you get rid of Virat Kohli? Perhaps you can stick a black cat in his path. Maybe carry around a mentalist to every India series. After all, cricket is extremely accommodating to superstition. For now though, as England showed, there is still merit in exploring traditional tactics. Chris Woakes was smacked down the ground a couple of times for going to the trouble of pitching the ball up. But he didn't waver. He actually went even fuller, and Kohli, aiming to jam the bat down in line with the ball, ended up slicing a thick outside edge through to Ben Stokes at second slip. No need to reinvent the wheel. Yet.
The fans in Cuttack thronged to the stadium, eager for their share of outrageous batting from India's next generation. KL Rahul fell for 5. Virat Kohli for 8 and just as they might have been feeling hard done by, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni wound the clock back and redirected their frenzy. The loudest roars were reserved for sixes and fours, obviously, but a streaky little glide to third man in the 17th over was equally important. That single brought up the first half-century partnership between Yuvraj and Dhoni since the 2011 World Cup final. In all, they amassed 256 runs together, the second-highest stand for the fourth wicket in history.
The eye in the sky
It was perhaps the most awful ball of the match. A full toss from Woakes Down the leg side. Waist high. Hit me burnt into the leather. Dhoni opened up his stance, wound up that big bat of his and muscled a pull towards the backward square leg boundary - which was about 60 yards from the batsman. The odds were excellent for India to record another six... until the ball clanged into the Spidercam and came back down to earth with a splat. The umpire signalled dead ball and most of the players were exchanging smiles. Only Alex Hales, the man in the deep, kicked the dirt. Clearly he thought he was robbed of a catch. He might have done some more farming a few seconds later considering Dhoni walloped a six to long-on to bring up the 200th of his career.
The stumps don't matter
Liam Plunkett was brought in to play his first game of the series, but he had a forgettable time, conceding 91 runs in his 10 overs. On a flat pitch, with batsmen exploiting the small ground and fast outfield, there were very few places to hide as a bowler. Plunkett found it out in the hardest way possible in the 44th over. He had overstepped the previous ball, meaning he was running in for the free hit delivery. It was a lovely ball, fast, aimed at the top of off stump and Dhoni swung all around it - knowing fully well the only way he could be dismissed off it was by a run-out. The batsman was bowled neck and crop, then the ball ran away to the boundary and India were gifted four byes.
The return of favour
As if to level the scales, Jasprit Bumrah suffered the same misfortune. His front foot finished a bit too far a mere three balls into the over and the ensuing yorker - whose sole purpose was to refuse the batsman any leverage - actually nailed Hales on the pads, forced him off his feet and into an ungainly fall. But while all of that looked lovely for a bowler, the ball itself was hurtling away to the fine-leg fence.
The extra that works
In the 32nd over of the chase came the first instance of the bowler benefiting from straying into the wrong. R Ashwin saw Jos Buttler coming down the track. He darted a flatter delivery down the leg side and past the batsman's reach. It was wide for all money but that didn't matter. Dhoni collected it behind the stumps. The ball had caught in the webbing of his left glove and, perhaps aware that it could pop out as a result of the speed of his hands moving in the opposite direction, he got hold of it better and then whipped the bails off with Buttler still halfway down the pitch.
Oops and ouch
Ben Stokes was hanging in the air. He was perhaps the only man in the ground who thought the vicious pull from Hardik Pandya was an opportunity for a wicket. He moved to his right from deep square leg, timed his jump as well as he could, but the ball still cleared him and at pace too. Stokes was just about picking himself up off his dive and turning around to try and retrieve the ball when it came and hit him square on the mouth. It seemed one of the ball boys had been a little overenthusiastic with his job and for that he earned himself a long, withering stare from the England allrounder, his face was as red as his hair
The umpiring mishap
Confusion like this is hard to come by. As with all remarkable things in cricket, it all began with a full delivery outside off stump. Liam Plunkett moved across the line to try and muscle the ball through midwicket but was struck on the pads. Jasprit Bumrah, the bowler, appealed instantly and umpire Anil Chaudhary gave his approval. It was a rather odd decision considering how far the batsman had moved away from his stumps and when DRS was taken that fact was confirmed. Plunkett was struck outside off while playing a shot, which Kumar Dharmasena ascertained clearly but while relaying that information through to his on-field colleague, he asked Chaudhary to stay with his original decision, which had been out.
Chaudhary, caught in the glare of the cameras in a match that had gone down to the wire, followed the instructions to the letter put his finger back up a second time at which point Morgan and Plunkett rounded on him and raised argument. Eventually the right call was made. But the drama wasn't done. Chaudhary also signalled leg-byes because the batsman had taken a run but that's when Virat Kohli at mid-on came into the picture, suggesting it should be a dead ball since the batsmen completed the single after Chaudhary had ruled Plunkett out lbw and as such anything that happened after that did not count.