Kuldeep slows down England

Day one from Dharamsala

Kuldeep slows down England
Kuldeep Yadav is on his way to becoming the most prolific left-arm wrist-spinner in Tests. (Note - Johnny Wardle bowled both left-arm orthodox and left-arm wrist-spin)

England started the day going up against Jasprit Bumrah banana balls that would humiliate the greatest players. Crawley seemed to be playing with only the leading edge, and that was when he was anywhere near hitting the ball. And yet, somehow, Bumrah did not get a wicket. Again England being willing to punish meant that edges seemed to fall into gaps and actually, if we are being honest, this was the most grown up Bazball opening partnership for some time. India could have taken five wickets, and at lunch, England were probably unhappy they gave them two.

England took that advantage and completely destroyed it on their own. I mean, that is unfair to Kuldeep, who bowled very smart, and his wrong’un certainly played a part in three wickets. But England were loose. Bairstow was convinced he had to get his hundred in 30 balls, Crawley played around one, Duckett hoicked across the line.

The real problem is that India know they just have to wait. Earlier in the series they were shaken, now they’re just patient. England don’t bat for long to start the games, just sit back and wait for this innings to self-destruct.

Rohit and Jaiswal went about their business. The England seamers couldn’t get the ball to move as much in the afternoon, and India never looked in much trouble at all. Jaiswal decided to end Bashir’s lifeforce, and instead played a shot that looked very much inspired by England.

It didn’t matter though, India are well in front. Time to sit back and enjoy the tasty momos the England spinners are frequently delivering.

Why does Dharamsala suit Kuldeep Yadav's bowling?

I think it makes sense for him to bowl on this surface. This is more like an Adelaide day three, or Gabba day four type wicket. It makes more sense for a wrist-spinner because of the extra bounce, plus he can also bowl the wrong'un. He even talked about using the drift in the post-match interview.

Picture Credit - ESPNCricinfo

His spell played a big part in England's collapse.

Picture Credit - ESPNCricinfo

You can see how wide and full the wicket delivery was. It was a different length, and he was not close to the ball. Look at the balance on his head.

Picture Credit - JioCinema

Ollie Pope steps out as much as any batter in world cricket at the moment to both seam and spin. But it probably allowed for Kuldeep to have that in his mind. It reminded me of the famous Vizzy dismissal. I just like the idea of being so far down the wicket.

Ben Stokes failed to pick the wrong'un. He is always a potential victim of being caught on the backfoot while playing spin in Asia. Having said that, he also got out trying to play on the frontfoot earlier in the series. His technique does not work as well in these conditions.

Picture Credit - JioCinema

It is incredible how rare this skill is. Paul Adams and Lakshan Sandakan are not exactly world-beaters.

England's top order vs middle order

This graph is just cascading when we look at the batters in the order of their batting positions. Their openers are a batter who averaged 15 against spin in his first four Tests, and a guy who could not play spin in Asia. And other than Bairstow, they are probably playing the most Bazball-like.

Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes not turning up has definitely played a part in the series loss for England. They barely doubled their score after lunch in this innings.

The big difference for India has been who all have played in the middle order. They have had four debutants - Patidar, Sarfaraz, Jurel and Padikkal. No Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, and KL Rahul (last four Tests).

(Updated till Day 2 of the 5th Test)

Indian pacers in the first session

This ball creates an optical illusion. Rohit Sharma also goes out to such deliveries, when it's angling in and straightens. People often think that batters play inside the line, which is not the case.

Picture Credit - JioCinema

This is a wicket that supports the seam bowlers more in first-class cricket, though this one in particular was a bit different than the usual. Bumrah and Siraj bowled some pretty good deliveries early on. Although England did quite well to get through that early phase, on another day they could have nicked off a couple.

I would have liked some of these deliveries in the 6-8m region to be about a metre fuller. Siraj's natural lengths are also a bit shorter. The amount of times that Crawley got a leading edge or spooned the ball up in the air and it just did not go to a fielder. On another day, he could have gotten out one of those times.

Picture Credit - JioCinema

Both the bowlers induced quite a few plays and misses early on from the English openers.

Picture Credits - JioCinema

Cricketingview says they bowled at a similar length than they have in the rest of the series. With that much movement, India could have bowled a little bit fuller. Look at the amount of sideways movement - the closer that is to the bat, the more likely it is to take an edge. But I certainly get his point here.

They put away the bad balls without going all out to attack. I don't think that's a partnership we would have seen earlier in the series. They needed to earn that to feel comfortable while playing an innings of this type.

First 14 overs of pace (Picture Credit - ESPNCricinfo)

Zak Crawley's best Test series

This has been Crawley’s best series. He might have made more runs or impactful knocks before, but he has never been this good consistently against a top attack. Especially in conditions that don’t always suit him. 

During the series he has learned how to play spin in the subcontinent. He may never be a specialist, but he’s understood how to get the best out of himself. Before he would sweep or charge down, and he wasn’t great at either. 

When going down the wicket, he would often just mess himself up by trying to hit everything so hard. Crawley is at his best when trying to time the ball, he’s big and strong enough to clear ropes doing that. And he’s a terrible slogger. He loses his shape and heaves. That is what got him out, although, not so much coming down the wicket. 

But again Crawley did all the hard work, and didn’t convert. England have told him to get his before one gets him. And I get that for your first 30-40 runs. But now it just seems like he’s giving away the kinds of totals that win games. 

Now, I did have concerns about his ability to convert well before Bazball. Partly because he’s never done it at any level. At times he gets to scores around 30-70 and doesn’t seem to know what to do next. That is consistent with players who have never scored runs consistently in his career. 

That might all be fixed when he turns 28/29, just because he’ll be near his prime. But it still feels like an issue. Crawley can dominate bowling, but he can’t capitalise on the carnage he’s made. 

Not since Don 

We had another 'not since Don' moment. This is an incredible list to be on. Every player on this list is an all-time great. Jaiswal too has one of the highest first-class averages ever, so he might be on his way to end up with a very good Test average.

Jaiswal goes into modes where he thinks to himself, "Okay, in this period what I am looking for is this". With Bashir, he wanted the ball outside off-stump. At one stage, he went down on his knee and slog cover-drove a ball over deep cover for six. The ball was there to be cut away, but he probably went a bit too hard. He did not take risks against Anderson, and Hartley bowled much a better line to him.

It is possible Bashir saw Jaiswal coming. Against the likes of Leach, you know where he will land the ball. But this was a situation where probably neither Jaiswal nor Bashir were sure where he would actually land the ball. So, except Duckett, this might have been the worst dismissal in the day.

Picture Credits - JioCinema

He could have easily scored a hundred the way he was batting, but modern batters think differently about taking risks.