It’s not often that a team drops five chances and has the better of exchanges. India did that in the first Test against England at Rajkot and nearly lived to tell the tale before skipper Virat Kohli’s gumption hauled them out of the woods.
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Three centuries put England on top, but the trend of dropped catches in the first innings started at the very top with skipper Alastair Cook, India’s bugbear, reprieved off the third delivery of the match by Ajinkya Rahane.
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His opening partner, young Haseeb Hameed survived a chance by Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara’s late reaction at bat-pad made Moeen Ali the biggest beneficiary. The left-hander, who was yet to open his account then, went on to score 117 runs.
Worse was yet to come. Ben Stokes was dropped two times in two overs by Wriddhiman Saha, struck by the sudden reversal of fortunes after the series he had against New Zealand. Umesh Yadav was the bowler to suffer on both occasions and coach Anil Kumble was not amused as India geared up for the second match of the series at the ACAVDCA YSR Stadium on Tuesday.
The hosts didn’t bat or bowl but concentrated on sorting out the fielding woes and played some football. “If you look at the only aspect where we probably let ourselves down, it was in the catching,” Kumble said.
“We have done really well in all the three departments over the past 3-12 months that I have been a part of this team or even before that. Our batting, our bowling and catching is something that this team really prides itself. That’s something where we probably let ourselves down, the catching department,” Kumble added.
But for the shoddy fielding display, Kumble reckoned, it would have been a different story. “I thought the fast bowlers bowled really well. Shami and Umesh bowled exceptionally well on that surface. They got it to reverse and they troubled all the English batsmen. It’s just that like I mentioned, the one area where we certainly probably let ourselves down was our catching and this team really prides itself in its fielding and its catching. That’s something that we are obviously aware of, going into this Test match.”
Some wanton display with the bat in the second essay gave the hosts a mighty fright before they recovered through skipper Kohli.
“It was a good wicket to bat on. Yes, when you look at the last day, those 50 overs, I don’t like to read too much into that batting that happened in those 70 overs. If you look at that, probably if Pujara had taken the DRS, probably it would have been 170 for 1 and probably people would have focussed more on the pitch. But it was a performance where I thought it was a good batting surface and there were six centuries – two from us and four from the English batsmen. It was a good Test match but unfortunately we couldn’t get a result.”
But why did Pujara not ask for DRS? “He just felt that he was out, that was one of the main reasons,” Kumble said. Since it was available and since it was just 50-60 overs that we were going to bat, it was all the more reason that we could possibly have asked for it but I don’t think you can blame anyone for that. That is just part and parcel of the game. At that point in time, both the batsmen felt that they didn’t have felt that they didn’t have to take it, so it was fine.”KUMBLE ON PITCH
“Just because they got more wickets than our spinners doesn’t mean we will be at a loss but that’s what I am saying that we batted 160 overs. We will make our strategy based on the pitch, we will select the team accordingly. I haven’t seen this pitch, we will play according to how this is. We play to take 20 wickets and win matches. Whatever wicket we get, we will play on that.”
He has got 450 Test wickets, that’s obviously experience and he has played here before. We would like to look at England as a team and not necessarily focus on one particular bowler or batsman. For us, KL Rahul is available, so we added him to our squad. It will be good to have a full team for both sides, going into this Test.