PHOTOS TO FOLLOW
Day 3 of the 4th test saw another utterly glorious day at The Ageas Bowl, today is the first of September, Autumn supposedly, not in Southampton, the sun shone in a largely blue sky all day.
India had finished their innings with a lead of 27 runs, how important would that be in this low scoring game?
What I’m going to type next may need some time to digest, England batted…….. ALL DAY! That was what was needed for the home team to salvage this game. The 2 openers Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings were under some pressure with averages of 16 and 15 respectively.
Cook had scored runs against Pakistan but this was proving to be a barren summer for him overall. Neither man had looked comfortable facing the 4 overs they had to get through at the end of Day 2. And things weren’t to get much better for Cook in particular, his was the first wicket to fall when he edged a ball from Jasprit Burma to KL Rahul, after a juggle the ball was held and Cook was gone for 12.
The next batsman in was something of a surprise in the shape of Moeen Ali, 3 is his preferred spot for his county Worcestershire but he was a wild card coming in so high for England. It was a gamble that didn’t work, a wonderful batsman when he gets his eye in, this time he didn’t! Another catch for that man Rahul from the bowling of Sharma, and Moeen was out for 9. England were 33 for 2 in only the 16th over of their innings. An all too familiar tale.
Joe Root joined Keaton Jennings, coming in at his preferred position of 4, for a while the 2 looked comfortable at the crease, well for 16 overs anyway. Jennings had reached the heady heights of 36 having faced 87 balls, before he was trapped horribly by Shami and given out LBW. For some unknown reason the decision was reviewed after discussion with his captain, he was clearly out! England hadn’t quite made the 100 before the fall of their 3rd wicket, they were on 92 and the wicket was the final action before lunch, a perfect time for a wicket to fall.
I made a schoolgirl error by not having my camera in my hand as Jonny Bairstow took his guard, that means I missed the stumps and bails flying as he was clean bowled for a Golden Duck by Shami. That was Bairstow’s second first ball Duck after his injury, I go back to my original thought that it may well have been unwise for him to play. 92 for 3 had just moved to 92 for 4, a lead of only 65.
The new, revised Ben Stokes came to join Root, he’d played a patient innings at Trent Bridge and carried on in the same vein here. The openers could do worse than watching how Stokes blocks the ball. However, I was sat next to a very lovely lady called Rachel and we’d both commented how hesitant Root looked at times when it came to running, there seemed to be no sense of urgency. That may well have been a factor in him being run out, the ball was fielded by Shami, not one of India’s super fielders, but he certainly sent in a super thrown and Root was out by a mile, the second time he’s been run out in this series! Root had scored 48 and looked to be on his way to a decent score, but again it wasn’t going to be. What I’m about to say next may seem unfair but here I go, Root isn’t the most athletic of men, had he made a dive for the line I think he’d have beaten the ball, ifs, buts and maybes I guess! England were 122 for 5.
Jos Buttler was up next, was this going to be an innings to make me eat my words or one to justify my moans at the start of this test summer?
Happily it was the former, we had a whole 23 overs of ‘proper test batting’ before another wicket fell, again Stokes played very carefully, he seemed to have Ashwin fully sussed but hit a ball with the bottom of his bat, a great catch by Rahane and he was out. Stokes had batted for over 2.5 hours and faced 110 balls for 30 runs. The partnership was worth 56 runs and England were 178 for 6, that lead was creeping up.
Crowd favourite Sam Curran was in next, he’s earned that label in this series with his plucky performances, key wickets and valuable runs. India were keen to get Curran in front of their bowling, but he and Buttler managed their partnership well and they scored runs at a good pace. Buttler again proved his value as a batsman no matter what colour the ball is. We wee treated to some lovely shots by both men, Buttler had made 69 from 122 balls including 7 fours. The India bowlers seems to be labouring slightly, but with the new ball in his hand Sharma trapped Buttler LBW, England were 233 for 7, a lead of 206.
More runs were needed and Curran set about increasing the lead alongside Adil Rashid, this was a situation the 20 year old was getting used to. Every dot ball was cheered, the atmosphere had been getting lively throughout the afternoon. Several of the India players had been fielding close to the boundary, Hrdik Pandya in particular was in high demand for autographs and selfies, he fulfilled many a fan’s dreams by coming over the boundary line time after time, Shami then did the same. That was in front of where I was sitting. Bumrah on the other side seemed to be more reluctant, promoting good natured shouts of ‘sign the bat’ he did of course comply to great cheers, as did Shikhar, it seems unfair on the 2 signing away on our side to no such accolade.
There was a huge beer snake being paraded as the final overs were bowled, that meant the attention was moved away from the actual cricket, but, Curran and Rashid battled away as we approached 6:30, things were going along nicely for England but Shami struck with what would be the last ball of the day, Rashid was trapped LBW giving the bowler a 3rd wicket to add to his run out. England finished the day on 260 for 8, a lead of 233. A repeat of the partnership between Curran and Broad in the first innings would be ideal in the morning, 233 doesn’t quite feel enough to win this match.
As a side note, the young keeper Rishabh Pant was hit in the chest by a flying ball, he needed attention from the physio and was looking in some difficulty, he carried on and I hope he has no ill effects.
The WI-FI is awful again so I’m pressing publish before I add my photos from the day