Rohit's approach. Jadeja's home. Sarfaraz's debut.

Day 1 of the 3rd Test at Rajkot

Rohit's approach. Jadeja's home. Sarfaraz's debut.
Via - JioCinema

There was a moment early on, where this looked like a 90s or 2000s wicket, the seamer bowled it, the batters drove it to the rope. Then suddenly India lost 33/3, and they suddenly looked like they were going to struggle to make it to lunch. If Joe Root had stayed low for the chance from Rohit, maybe they wouldn’t have.

But India eventually batted like it was the wicket we first saw, and England had periods - especially against Rohit - where they looked completely out of ideas. They of course went back to their favourite - the short ball - and that is what worked. But after that a nervous Sarfaraz got going and it took a run out to stop him.

India’s day, despite blips at the top and the bottom that still keep England in it. And I am starting to think that Bazball is less about slogging and more about just keeping yourself in the game through any means necessary. 

Jadeja was born to bat (play, really) in Rajkot (SAK)

You can see a progressive increase in all these averages here. Tests, in India, last 5 years. And then comes Rajkot. Even if he got out for 40 today, you could argue he did job of 'dead-batting' in the situation he had to come in to bat.

This was only the second time he came out to bat in the first ten overs of the innings. He hadn’t been in this situation too many times before, and certainly never succeeded the way he did today.

Although I think he should not bat in the top five regularly, he fact that he has can moonlight there in certain situations is an amazing skill to have. The idea behind sending him at five today was perhaps to settle the game down a little bit. However, his skillsets are better suited to bat at number six and seven, a bit like Imran Khan and Daniel Vettori.

I think he had a very clear gameplan of just rotating the strike. He doesn't worry much about the offside here, but that's also because of how they bowled to him. He played those bottom-handed on-drives, and would cut the ball if he was given some width.


He knew who to attack and who to knock around. Yet again, we see another Indian batter defending Anderson. But the approach seemed to be very calculated.

Jadeja got inside the line of the ball and tucked Wood away to square leg and fine leg to get off strike. He also hit a couple of pull shots, and got some runs from a few inside edges (because of the way he plays as a left-hander).


Root, who had a bit of an off day today, bowled a few freebies to Jadeja as well.


Mark Wood opens the bowling (SAK)

Mark Wood's role was quite different today. Bowling with the new ball is not something he does a lot, and he is not great at it either. He's bowled quite a bit in overs 11-20, so that suggests that he's often brought in as the first-change seamer.

It's a bit different when you just look at Asia. Although Wood hasn't always bowled with the new ball in Asia either, you can see that he's bowled a lot in overs 11-20, 31-40, and 51-60. So England probably look at these blocks as opportunities for getting the ball to reverse. It also depends on how the bowlers are rotated, for example because he doesn't bowl with the new ball it makes sense for him to come on first change.

A lot is made out of his record in England over the years. I still think he can be effective there, as we saw in the Ashes last year. But it makes sense for him to be good in Asia - he has that extra pace and he attacks the stumps.

He was impactful against Pakistan in 2022. He also bowled well in the first Test, although he did not get any wickets.

Notice how similar these two balls are. They are kind of pitching in a similar area. But the key difference is that the blue one is coming from a wider release and angling in, while the red one is coming from a little bit closer and then going away. He is one of the best users of the crease among quick bowlers.

Via - JioCinema

He put in a lot of effort in his spells, asking questions of Rohit and Jadeja during their partnership. This wicket also suited him more - according to CricViz, 49% of the deliveries on this pitch have been bowled by pace bowlers in first-class cricket. Plus, spinners and pacers basically have a similar average here.

Via - JioCinema

I thought the way he bowled to Jadeja, pushing him back and then going full at the top of off stump was a really clever technique, that didn't quite work today.

Sarfaraz’s crisp start (JK/SAK)

Sarfaraz Khan has the fourth-best average in first-class cricket, only behind Don Bradman (95.14), Vijay Merchant (71.64) and George Headley (69.86). Since his comeback in 2019/20, his performances in the Ranji Trophy have been absolutely ridiculous.

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He also had a pretty good run in the recently concluded series between India-A and England Lions. He had the best average among batters with at least 200 runs, and he played only 3 innings. He also scored 96 in the tour game, so he was in impressive form in the lead up to this Test.

Worth noting how late Sarfaraz plays the ball, and his wrist work to get almost any ball to backward square leg, even if it is spinning away outside off stump. You can already see why he will be a handful for captains especially. 


England started with a bouncer field as well. I wonder what factored into that the most, because it might be analysis led, or because he is a young batter from India, or even just because Mark Wood was already bowling to that kind of field with an old ball. 

He scored the joint second-quickest half-century by an Indian batter on their Test debut. The fearlessness in his approach was evident. It would be quite the sight to watch him and Rishabh Pant operate at the peak of their powers in the subcontinent.

The first thing you'll notice here is how far down Jadeja is. He completely committed to the run, and then decided there wasn't a run there. This also happened to be the first time Sarfaraz was runout in his first-class career.


But if you go back to the start of the over, you'll notice that on the first ball Jadeja was sent back by Sarfaraz at the start of the over. I realized that Sarfaraz wasn't really backing up, and he even had to dive for a run on the third ball. Jadeja also had a chat with him, and I think they were trying to figure out what was best for them. On the fifth ball, Sarfaraz slightly overcommits for the single because of the previous two balls.

Via - ESPNCricinfo

Rohit Sharma and modern batting (JK)

In the end, Rohit Sharma kind of strolled through to a hundred, but there was a period he really struggled. And the way he got through that was very modern batting or Bazball.  

Hartley was working him over on a good spot, which a little help from the surface. So Rohit punished the first ball that was slightly off line for a boundary. In old cricket that was probably enough, and the next ball you would look for a single on the legside. 

The next ball wasn’t an error, it was a decent ball around middle and leg on a good length, and he basically slogged it, or at best, viciously flicked it across the line. It was a bold choice, even if he middled it well. 

Via - ESPNCricinfo

That he tried it again not long after and was dropped at slip was remarkable. But he was trying to stop Hartley from dropping the ball on a spot. For conventional Test play it would seem very risky, but this is how the game is right at the moment. The idea of blocking the ball and soaking up the pressure is seen often as risky as taking one one over. 

All this takes us to the Anderson spell to Rohit where he had him in trouble with the wobbling ball. He had this LBW, that was given out and then overturned because of an edge. But in a short period Rohit seemed to be hit on every bit of protective equipment he had. 

Via - ESPNCricinfo

So he decided to use the crease. Which in the space of two years has become a normal way of handling this bowling. But the other way is just attacking. 

Via - ESPNCricinfo

Rohit did that as well, he came down the wicket to chip one over mid on. It easily could have been caught, but just got over Dan Lawrence’s head (who was wearing a sweater). But while this might seem like madness, the next ball Rohit eased it through the overs when Anderson bowled too short. In fact the rest of over Anderson struggled with his length. 

He survived both of these moments, and ended up strolling to a hundred. But he bought that by the attacking.  

I think a Test captain of a batting line up this green in years gone past, unless they were a real attacking player, would have just blocked that period. Perhaps even a couple of years ago, Rohit might have done the same. But modern players see these moments different. And Rohit took the risk, and because of that, he actually made his hundred easier. Of course, if he had been caught by Root, we all know what would have followed then.