England left in a spin by Axar Patel & India

England have been left humbled tonight after being bowled out cheaply by InIda for just 112 runs, despite winning the toss and batting with the better conditions. With India reaching 99-3 at close of play, the 3rd test could already be out of reach for an England side that looked overmatched and under prepared.

Having seen the pitch, it was a surprise when Joe Root decided to select just one front-line spinner in Jack Leach, with India selecting three spinners, that decision looked even more questionable, and despite Dom Sibley being removed by seamer Ishant Sharma, it became clear early that it was to be the spinners who would have the last laugh.

Zak Crawley played some magnificent shots on his way to his half-century but as Barstow and then Root fell to LBW calls, it was obvious that his early work would be in vain. Root was the 2nd top scorer on the day with just 17, and the fragility of top order was evident for everyone to see.

I would love to say that the pitch did the work, but that wouldn’t be accurate. There were certainly some demons on the surface and it turned more than you’d want it to on the first day of a test, but England shot themselves in the foot time and time again, playing for spin instead of playing the line and missing straight deliveries. And while it was smart by Axar and Ashwin, the batting was poor.

Ben Stokes struggling for form was caught on his crease before Ollie Pope who’s not passed 35 in his last 8 innings and failed to pass just 15 in 5 of them, was clean bowled by Ashwin. Foakes played some determined defence and Archer rattled a couple of boundaries, but England were left humbled and embarrassed in a test they had surely circled as a potential victory.

There is some evidence that the England selectors paid more attention to the “pink ball” nature of the test, rather than play the surface Itself. Something that will surely come back to bite them.

The 3rd umpire was again the focus of the day as he made several suspicious deliveries without consulting the full range of angles at his disposal. Unfortunately, this is a familiar feeling for England and shows why neutral umpires are so important for the integrity of the game. The umpiring is no excuse for the poor England performance, but it’s not a good look for cricket and the BCCI.

Despite being in the sub-continent for weeks now, the England batsman are showing no signs of improving their play against spin. Instead they look like deer in headlights, quivering in their crease just waiting for the impact, instead of looking to score too many batsmen are just looking to survive.

We may not like the pitch but it would be a mistake to criticise India for preparing these pitches. In Chennai the groundsman prepared an “English looking” wicket and look what happened. If you believe the rumours, Kohli wasn’t too happy about that pitch and the results are the pitches we’re seeing now. It’s India, the pitch is going to turn, if you can’t show you can play those pitches, why would you expect them to change it.

There’s a long way to go in this test match, but it already looks as though it may be out of reach for this England lineup. Leach‘s wicket of Kohli gave England hope, but with Rohit still there (He shouldn’t be) and plenty of batting to come, it could be a long day two


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