If there is one team that has been able to give India a run for their money in their own backyard in this decade, it is England. While the other teams have struggled even to play the Indian spinners, Alastair Cook’s men won a series in India in 2012 and started this series in a similar fashion when they put the hosts under immense pressure in the opening Test.
Virat Kohli’s men have now roared back to form in the ongoing second Test and have set an improbable target of 405 runs. With the Vizag pitch deteriorating with every passing over and offering variable bounce, it was widely expected that the Indian spinners would make light work of the visitors. But proving everyone wrong,Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed played 302 balls between them for 75 runs. However, India clawed their way back in the match right towards the end when Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Hameed and Ravindra Jadeja had Cook in the very last over of the day.
Speaking to the media after the day’s play, Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara said that the hosts were happy with the way the day finished.
Pujara said: “We are happy with the way things went. We got two wickets, we knew it would not be easy to get them out. We had our plans and ultimately we achieved. Possibly day five won’t be easy to bat on. We have seen cracks are opening up.”
With the Indian team failing to get the much-needed breakthrough, the Indian team wasted both of their reviews in consecutive overs. The incident once again raised questions on India’s experience in the DRS, but Pujara quashed all those speculations by saying that the decisions were taken only because the hosts were desperate to get a wicket.
“I think it was the right call [to opt for DRS] because we wanted to get wickets,” Pujara said. “There were a couple of close calls where we felt that if we got some wickets and obviously all of us decided, especially the guys who are close-in to the wicket, they felt that on a couple of occasions, it was a close call and then we opted for DRS. I think it was the right call because if it had been in favour of us, we would have got a couple of more wickets, you never know.
The Indian team, which has always expressed its reservations over the DRS, finally agreed to use the system on a trial basis in this series. When asked whether the team is well capable of handling the technology, Pujara said:“We are clear about that. Before DRS was implemented, we all sat together. We discussed how we want to take calls when we opt for the review, especially when on the field, as a fielding unit. When the bowlers will opt for DRS and even when we are batting, we have a clear plan, especially both batsmen will decide whether to take DRS or not. As a team, we are very clear about it.”
The Saurashtra batsman also heaped praise on Haseeb Hameed who played 144 balls for his 25 runs.Hameed’s fighting innings was finally ended when an Ashwin delivery kept very low and hit the youngster on the pad.
“Overall, he [Hameed] is a good player and he is really impressive. The way he has started off is really impressive,” Pujara said.
“But the way he got out, I don’t think it was unfortunate because sometimes in India, you expect balls to keep low and somehow you have to adjust. Especially on day four, obviously spinners will get turn and bounce and sometimes the odd-ball will stay low.”
The right-handed batsman, who scored a century in the first innings of the Test, said that adopting a defensive approach would not be a good idea on a pitch that has variable bounce.
“Here if you play defensive also, it is not very easy. I believe this wicket is such that if you play defensive, it is slightly difficult to get a batsman out but still as we saw today, there is a low bounce. One or two balls from Ashwin bounced, from the rough Jaddu [Jadeja] was able to get a lot of bounce. Even if you play defensive also it is not easy, I don’t think it will be an easy task to bat on this wicket.”
The visitors finished the day on 87 for 2, still needing 318 runs to register an improbable win.