Jaiswal and spinners put India in front on Day 1

Notes on Ben Stokes, Root and the sweep shot, and bowling with the new ball

Who would have thought the world’s best spinners would make the pitch look so much harder than a debutant who was being forced against his will to open the bowling? Everyone, right? Pretty much everyone on the planet.

But England did do well when there was no spin, and then did terrible when there was spin. Only their best players of the turning ball looked competent. But Stokes looked a lot better than that. The only problem was no one could stay with him. So eventually England set a decent total when compared with recent Indian pitches, but it looked a little light. England think it is above par, and maybe they meant in golf terms it was over par.

It certainly looked like a low score once Jaiswal decided that Tom Hartley’s gene pool had to be ended entirely. If it wasn’t for Rohit continually struggling with Jack Leach again, England would have got nothing. Sure, mad things can still happen tomorrow, but it would take some incredible bowling or terrible batting for India not to get a lead here.

Overall though, a sexy day of Test cricket. 365 runs was the most on day one in India since 2009. We also had 11 wickets. Some madness, and the most drunk UltraEdge I have seen. What more can you ask for?

Tom Hartley struggles with the new ball (JK)

Tom Hartley slog sweeped R Ashwin to get his first six in Test cricket. Many players would do that and just walk off the field and never play again.

But shortly after his punchy knock, he was taking the new ball. This was the first time he had bowled with it in first-class cricket. I assume he has been practising with it, but he has never played a Test. He is really more of a backup than a main spinner, is young, and is bowling to a left-hander and Rohit Sharma.

He actually bowled much better when right-handers were in front of him, and when the ball wasn’t brand spanking new. Stokes gave him a lot of chances to come good, or be smashed into oblivion. At one stage he almost bowled an accidental bouncer. Hard to not feel sorry for him.

Look at Jaiswal’s record so far in Tests. He was driving out of the footmarks like he was facing me bowling to him. He is a beast. I thought India would make 400 on this wicket, he has already made my prediction look shaky.

Ben Stokes stars for England (SAK)

Ben Stokes started quite well on the 2016 tour. Although he’s registered five fifty-plus scores in India, he’s also had a few streaks of low scores - most of them thanks to Jadeja bowling in the footmarks, or Ashwin. He averages about the same against Ashwin in England as he does in India. He was superb today, a bit of a shame that none of the other batters stuck around long enough for him to make a hundred.

He has been magnificent in South Africa, which makes sense given his ability to play fast bowling. But apart from South Africa, there aren’t really that many countries where he averages very high, which I think this is fair. You can see that his average in India is a little lower than his overall mark, but it hasn’t been the worst either.

Since he is a seam-bowling all-rounder, he shouldn’t exactly be judged on the same parameter as a specialist batter.

You can see that Stokes hasn’t exactly set the stage on fire since he became the skipper. But part of this is because he batted in a crazy way to lead from the front. However, in recent times he seems to have batted with a more normal approach.

Since the start of the Ashes last year, he has scored 475 runs in 10 innings at an average of 47.5 at a strike rate of 66.52. In 20 innings before that, he scored 651 runs at an average of 36.16 and a strike rate of 72.98.

The fact that he has the lowest strike rate here is very noticeable. I thought he would have been ahead of Root. But maybe part of this is because of the way he doesn’t always bat the same way, and often shifts through the gears within the same innings.

For a normal batter, it is an odd innings. But this what you would expect from Stokes.

India with the new ball (JK)

India bowled a lot of seam early on and tried to swing the ball before even worrying about the wobbleball. But neither quick was quite on it. Bumrah struggled against Duckett until he came around, and Siraj could not control his length when he was looking for swing.

This played into England’s hopes - the ability to cash in on the quicks before the spinners started. And they did. Scoring at over five runs an over, without losing a wicket. But the tweakers managed to take three, and slow the game down a lot.

Crawley had some odd moments against the pace, including one where he played perhaps the worst shot against a half-volley ever. But we expect him to score easily against the spin. One of his issues is driving on the up against pace, in Asia that is easier to do because there isn’t as much extra bounce. So you can stay on top of it.

So Crawley smashes the quicks. But today when he ran down the wicket and hit the ball straight to mid-off, his average against spin in all Asia dropped to 10.9. And worse still if you take out the more friendly wickets from Pakistan. He seems to have no real idea what to do against spin.

This is crazy because outside Asia, Crawley smashes spin but cannot play pace well.

He seems to have a game that weirdly works for pace in Asia and spin in SENA. It is wild, because most players are just good against pace or spin regardless of location.

But he was also fed by Mohammed Siraj, who with the new ball is very hit or miss. Of the high-usage guys with the new ball, he has the third-worst economy rate.

But he also has the fourth-best average. So as a strike bowler, he is doing his work. This means though that England can get away when he is bowling. That is harder to do against Bumrah.

If you look at Siraj, the bowler most like him in the first 20 overs is Kagiso Rabada. So it’s not a bad place to be, but the Crawley/Bazball side of it does make it really interesting.

This is why people hate matchups (JK)

After lunch, India used their two left-arm finger spinners. We can never be in Rohit Sharma’s mind, but it would appear like he saw two right-handers and thought, let’s spin the ball away. But they had Ashwin, and most people want him to bowl all the time.

So this is what happens inside India when spin is bowled to right-handers by type. The issue with this number is it does include Ashwin, and he warps all things.

But even when you look at the numbers without him, it is worth noticing that offies still do pretty well against right-handers.

So what about Ashwin against batters by hand at home? It turns out he is 0.09 runs per wicket better against right than left. Not bad, considering he has the most left-handed wickets ever.

But if you want to dive deeper, of course, the batters need to be discussed. So I looked at Root and Bairstow on Indian wickets.  And you can see they prefer to face off-spin, even when it is Ashwin.

Who knows if Rohit thought about any of this? But the left-arm finger spinners dismissed both Bairstow and Root. That doesn’t mean Ashwin wouldn’t have got them, but they were still dismissed by a bowling type that they don’t prefer.

Joe Root and the sweep shot (SAK)

Joe Root sweeps a lot, and we’ll definitely do a feature on this at some point during this series. He’s at 21% when it comes to the orthodox sweep. According to CricViz, Root scores 31.4% of his runs against spin in India, playing all types of sweep shots.

I absolutely love that Rangana Herath and James Anderson are on this list, because they decided they only have a couple of shots against spin. Misbah is the only other specialist batter on this list, and Dickwella is a wicket-keeper batter. Root being second on here just shows that he plays this shot a lot, and he also gets out to it.

Today, Joe Root waited for the very full deliveries to sweep. Axar Patel’s release point is 13-15 cm more than the normal left-arm orthodox spinner, so he’s a little bit harder to sweep because of the extra bounce he can get. But today, Root had no problems in sweeping him.

However, today he swept Jadeja. If you have another look at the dismissal, you’ll see that particular ball was a bit shorter and probably wasn’t the right ball to sweep. Root was perhaps a little more casual in sweeping Jadeja, because he doesn’t get as much natural bounce as Axar.

What Joe Root does in the upcoming innings of this tour would be interesting, because the sweep shot is such a weapon for Joe Root.