At just after 11AM GMT yesterday the first test match of the five match series between Inida and England was confirmed as a draw.
THE FIRST INNINGS
Alastair Cook made the first right move of the series when he won the toss and chose to bat (on a plumb pitch, with the only hope of interesting developments being if it deteriorated this was a clear cut decision). Gary Ballance’s wretched form had finally caught up with him, and 19 year old Haseeb Hameed whose family originated in these parts came in for his debut, with Ben Duckett dropping to number four so that Hameed could open. In the two match series in Bangladesh England’s top five had a combined record of three 50 plus scores in 20 innings with no one reaching three figures. Here Joe Root and Moeen Ali (nos 3 and 5 respectively) racked up centuries, and Ben Stokes, for once given a base from which he could build rather than attempt to rebuild added another as England totalled 537, effectively putting defeat out of the question right from the start.
Ravi Ashwin, the offspinner who was expected to prove far too good for England’s batting finished with the less than commanding innings figures of 2-167. Jadeja, on home turf (with that surname he is definitely connected to the old royal family of Nawanagar, who ruled here in the days of the princely states, and produced cricketing legends of earlier times Ranjitsinhji and Duleepsinhji) took three wickets.
THE SECOND INNINGS
Murali Vijay and Chesteshwar Pujara each reached three figures, while Ashwin somewhat redeemed his bowling figures with 70. India were all out for 488, giving England a lead of 49. These two huge first innings scores had been acquired comparatively slowly as both sides bowled tightly, and the fourth of five days was nearing its conclusion by the time India’s last wicket fell. Adil Rashid, given the opportunity to bowl with runs on the board, picked up 4-114, while the other spinners, Moeen Ali and Zafar Ansari each picked up two wickets. None of the faster bowlers were able to extract anything from this pitch, but Stuart Broad, playing in his 100th test, was economical, taking 1-78 from his 29 overs and Woakes who finished wicketless was positively Scrooge like in only conceding 57 from 31 overs.
THE THIRD INNINGS
While it would have been nice to see England go on the all-out attack and see if they could make a genuinely challenging declaration I can fully understand, especially given events in Dhaka not so long ago, why Cook took the safer option of batting the game into oblivion before declaring to see if his bowlers could take a few Indian wickets at the end.Cook himself made 130, his 30th test century, while the debutant Hameed made 82, and Ben Stokes, promoted to have a bash before the declaration made 29 not out in quick time. England called a halt at 260-3, leaving India a purely nominal target of 310 off 49 overs. Ashwin took 1-63 in this innings, giving him match figures of 3-230.
THE FOURTH INNINGS
Given that four and a half days of action had produced a combined 1295-23 it was most unlikely that any result other than a draw would eventuate, so the real question was whether England could nab some wickets and thereby claim a moral victory. In the event, India finished on 172-6, with only Virat Kohli, 49 not out, emerging from the innings with real credit. Rashid took 3-64, emerging with comfortably the best match bowling performance on either side, while Woakes, Ansari and Ali all picked up wickets.
THE FINAL VERDICT
A total match score over the five days of 1467-29 makes the truth about this game obvious. The pitch, which never offered serious assistance to any kind of bowler, won hands down. For England almost everyone emerged with some kind of credit, with most of the batsmen making runs and the bowlers sticking well to the Sisyphean task inflicted on them by the groundsman. India, although never in serious danger of losing this game have less to be happy about – although he is a spinner rather than a quick bowler Ashwin’s 3-230 in this match have a bit of a look of Gillespie ’05 about them. England have bounced back well from their disaster in Dhaka. Haseeb Hameed has made a splendid start to his career, and has probably settled the question of an opening partner for Cook – in a few years time England will probably be faced with finding someone to replace Cook as Hameed’s opening partner.
These pictures are from work…