Recent Match Report – England vs India 4th Test 2020/21
- March 5, 2021
Welcome to day two of our live report of the fourth India-England Test from Ahmedabad. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here
*Most recent entry will appear at the top, please refresh your page for the latest updates. All times are local
1.55pm: Another one gone
Ashwin survived a peppering from Stokes, but he isn’t able to hang around for long as England bag their sixth wicket. Jack Leach gets his second of the day, well held at short midwicket as Ashwin attempted to work to leg. Still a bit of batting to come in the shape of Washington Sundar and Axar Patel, but a lot on Pant’s shoulders now, as India seek to better England’s 205.
1.45pm: Ding! Ding!
1.35pm: Ashwin survives
Having sung his praises, umpire Menon has now got one wrong, R Ashwin successfully reviewing after a Stokes bumper flicked his shoulder on the way through. The next ball was edged through the cordon for four. Getting lively out there!
1.08pm: Hitman shot down!
Fifty up for Rohit Sharma, from 144 balls. Third time he’s done so in the series – and each one in the first innings of low-scoring Tests Stokes has done it again, ripping out the big wicket of Rohit! I won’t pretend I hadn’t been writing about how he was the man keeping England at bay, “mixing stalwart defence with only the occasional flourish”; but after a double change in the bowling, Root and Stokes replacing Bess (8-0-30-0) and Anderson, Rohit got stuck on 49 and then pinned at the end of the over, a marginal call as Stokes brought one back in, umpire’s call on line and impact… but Nitin Menon raised his shooter skyward, and India are five down, still 84 runs adrift.
12.40pm: Making the Bess of it
Time to hear from our England correspondent, George Dobell, on how the tourists might approach the afternoon session, and in particular the question of managing Dom Bess…
England have a balancing act here, with control the priority for their four-man attack (five if you include Joe Root). Which brings us to Bess. How should Root be using him today?
He had a major decision to make at lunch. He could either persist with two of the three bowlers who did so well in the morning and risk bowling them into the ground, he could bring himself on or he could give Bess a chance to get into the game. I think he’s made the right decision in bowling Bess. That’s because, if he doesn’t bowl him now, he risks damaging his confidence even further. And you would think he is going to have to bowl a fair bit later in the match. Basically, having picked him, they have to make it work. And the best way to make it work is for him to settle into the game with a spell now. He has a left-hander to target and some help from the surface. It has to be now.
We’ve already seen stray full tosses and signs that India will look to attack him. Are England going to just have to suck that up for a bit?
Well, it’s come to something when you have to ask that about a Test bowler. And a Test offspinner at that. It does remind me a bit of the Ian Salisbury situation. But I’m not sure Bess has the potential upside of a leggie like Salisbury. Really, you need your offspinner to provide control. Not be a risk. As to how India play him… do they need to attack him? If he bowls a four-ball every over, they just need to bat in as risk-free a way as they can and they will pick up runs without drama. I’d think that was the way to go. Looking further ahead… the next few days define Bess’ immediate future as a Test player. Right now, it feels as if he has quite a lot to do to prove himself at this level. But he’s probably going to be bowling in the fourth innings yet and could still bowl England to a memorable victory. So yes, a lot to unfold in the next couple of days.
It’s simply the Bess situation England find themselves in (honk!) – but at least the control and consistency, from Anderson and Stokes in particular, have given Root some breathing room
Yes, they’ve bowled England back into the match. And this is not Bess’ fault: he’s been massively over-promoted to fill the chasm that exists in English cricket where a bunch of spinners should be. Just consider this one stat: Bess averages 47 – yes, 47 – in the Second XI Championship. He’s pretty much never been first choice for his county and he is being asked to learn his trade in a huge series against the best team in the world. So yes, he’s really struggling. But an awful lot has been asked of him. Too much, in my view.
12.15pm: We go again
Hold on to your titfers, Rishabh Pant is out in the middle. England have resumed with Dom Bess and Anderson bowling in tandem, looking to maintain the squeeze they applied in the field this morning. Though between the habitual, seat-of-the-Pant(s) approach of India’s No. 6, and Bess’ proclivity for drag downs and full tosses, austerity may be hard to maintain.
India 80 for 4 (Rohit 32*) trail England 205 by 125 runs
Three wickets fell during an attritional morning session as India sought the kind of first-innings runs that would define the contest in this fourth Test. Successes for Jack Leach, Ben Stokes and James Anderson – who removed Ajinkya Rahane with the last ball before lunch – buoyed England as they battled to stay in the game.
For the third Test in a row, Rohit Sharma led the way with the bat for the home side, taking a more circumspect approach to be unbeaten on 32 from 106 balls. Virat Kohli made his second duck of the series, bounced out by Stokes, and England could take heart from the way they controlled the run rate – only 56 runs came in 25.5 overs – and then produced vital incisions as the session wore on.
After a tight opening from Anderson and Stokes, Leach separated India’s second-wicket pair, sliding a straight delivery into Cheteshwar Pujara’s pad fractionally before his bat came through to defend. Kohli was then surprised by a Stokes effort ball to feather an edge, and although Rahane counterattacked effectively, he steered to second slip with the interval looming.
11.20am: Rohit the key man (again)
An intriguing battle is taking shape, with Rohit Sharma tempering his game and Ajinkya Rahane looking to break England’s hold with some calculated aggression. Here’s Karthik Krishnaswamy on the challenge for batting so far this morning:
“I think this pitch is a bit two-paced, so Rohit has not been able to drive through the line so easily. Before this innings, he had a strike rate of 80-something against the fast bowlers in this series. Here he’s not been able to play that sort of game. Even the bouncer that hit his head stopped on him, and he was early on the hook. Even that last ball from Leach that Rahane tried to drive.
“The question is how long England can keep Bess out of the attack. And what happens when he comes on. It feels like India might try to go after him, and that could go both ways.”
Sure enough, Dom Bess’ introduction sees Rohit bring out the slog-sweep – although he doesn’t quite get it all the way, landing between two fielders on the leg-side boundary.
“So far this game has been a little like Bangalore 2017. India got bowled out cheaply on day one, with Nathan Lyon taking an 8-fer, then came back with a bowling performance that was similar to how England have bowled so far.”
11am: Kohli catches cold
Mute Me: Virat Kohli – where have all the centuries gone?
It’s now 12 innings and almost 18 months since Kohli’s last Test hundred – in fact, it’s currently a long wait across all formats – and the India captain may not get another chance in this series. As my stats-corps colleague Gaurav Sundararaman points out, this is only the second time Kohl has made two ducks in a series – and we all know how difficult the 2014 tour of England was for him. Our Mute Me panel discussed his current output before the Test, with Dustin Silgardo almost getting through his 60 seconds intact (and after Nitin Menon’s contribution this morning, props also to Gaurav for mentioning the standard of on-field umpiring).
By the way, I may have been muted, but my pre-series prediction is looking pretty safe now, eh?
10.40am: The sound of silence…
Now Stokes has bounced out Kohli for his second duck of the series! Up goes Virender Sharma’s finger, and although Kohli glares suspiciously at the pitch, he doesn’t linger long over thoughts of a review… Huge moment. After their tight start, England have gone bang-bang. Are you watching Australia?!
10.25am: Leach makes one stick!
England get their reward just before the hour mark. Having shackled the scoring, Jack Leach then dispatched Pujara for the fourth time in the series – courtesy of an eagle-eyed bit of umpiring from Nitin Menon. Just 16 runs had come in 12 overs of watchful batting, and Leach then settled nicely into a groove: the wicket-taking ball was flighted enough to draw Pujara forward and then skipped on to hit pad fractionally ahead of defensive bat prod. Pujara immediately reviewed but DRS couldn’t save him from what Menon already knew. Sadly for Che Pu, the crowd won’t mind, because his wicket brings VIrat Kohli to the crease.
10.20am: Steady start
Jack Leach into the attack for the first time today, from the Reliance End, and he’s found some turn and a nice line to the two right-handers – both of whom he’s had success against this series. Pujara got away with a genuine edge from the final ball of the over, the ball flicking the tips of Ben Foakes’ gloves on its way through and diverting down, just short of Stokes at slip.
There’s been a change of ends for Stokes, too, after Anderson delivered a searching spell of 5-3-3-0. Rohit, in contrast to his approach this series, has buckled down with the intention of seeing out the newish-ball threat, currently 19 off 74 balls.
9.55am: Motera running
Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara, India’s second-wicket pair, have made a wary start so far, with just four runs coming from the opening five overs – although Stokes then serves up back-to-back full tosses to Rohit, who slugs the second of them for a boundary. There’s been good pace and carry for the seamers, but nothing untoward from the surface.
Anyway, while we get settled in, why not have a gander at what George Dobell thoughts on England’s first-innings batting effort:
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the pitches in the previous couple of Tests – really, let’s not get bogged down with that here – there could be no reasonable complaints about this surface. Indeed, offering something to bowlers of all types and a fair opportunity to score for batsmen, you might well argue it has been an excellent pitch to this point. And if a team wins the toss on such a surface, they surely need to be compiling a first-innings total in excess of 300 and batting into the second day.
9.35am: Let’s get it on
England start up with James Anderson, beginning a new spell from the Adani Pavilion End, and Ben Stokes. Anderson has conceded his first runs, but also rapped Rohit Sharma on the pads a couple of times. Time to find out which side of bed this Motera deck has woken up on…
9.15am: Morning call
#PoliteEnquiries: There’ll be a day 3 this time, right?!
Hello and welcome back to the action. India did a sterling job with the ball on day one – even if England’s rummage down the back of the sofa did bring them 200 for the first time in a while – and can take purposeful strides towards the WTC final with a solid showing from their batsmen. The tourists are in need of a cascade of wickets, but probably won’t get quite so much help from the pitch. Either way, let’s hope it’s a good, honest scrap between professionals who care about the sport they love. Shall we?
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick