1) India started with Viru-less side.
2) 13.3 Zak was out of the match, the same Zak, who can dominate England in England, the best flat pitch bowler at the moment.
3) KP survives PK’s spell. If you watch highlight and count how many times KP ‘just’ misses out edges, you will forget SRT’s scratchy 2nd inning for a while.
4) KP was dropped at 67.2, he was at 49. He ended up scoring 202* match winning knock.
5) Trott was also dropped when he was at 17 and 32.
6) In 2nd inning, Ishant produced magic spell, Enter Prior, faced only 3 balls from Ishant before going to Lunch. This, I think, was the turning point point of match. Ishant is kind of bowler, who starts landing ball perfectly, you don’t want to break his rhythm. His whole career is like this. Believe it or not, this has been the case with Zaheer Khan as well. Once they are in the ‘Zone’, they have to bowl for decent amount of time. This is the beauty of the test match. Mind set, Trapping tactics, Timing, environment have to be just right to produce magic match winning spell. Once that is lost or batsman survives that, it can cost a game. And that is what happened. Despite no Zak, Ishant DID produce match winning spell, but unfortunately, it was just half way.
7) Gambhir not opening, SRT couldn’t come on due to Viral infection. Speaking of viral infection. It’s the worst thing to have, being sportsman. Your body aches really bad. It is basically your normal Flu. I am sure you must have experienced that at some point in your life. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting any runs from SRT.
8) Broad LBW was denied, by Asad Rauf in 2nd inning, only a bad call by him, but vital one.
So, basically, despite a main strike bowler down, this test match had enough elements, which kept it alive till last day. Now, you must be thinking, I am making excuses and it is unfair for England players. No, don’t think that way. I don’t want to take away any credit from brilliant resilient performance by KP and Prior with the bat and one of the best bowling spell by Stuart Broad, even after under so much pressure he was in. But, let’s not forget, England bowlers in England are very good as expected.
Taking out Zaheer from team is like taking Jimmy from England (who took 7 wickets, highest, tied with Broad in this match) or like taking out Steyn from SA in England.
1) The way PK was bowling under overcast condition and imagine Zak bowling with him (he almost got Trott’s wicket, remember?)
2) The way Ishant bowled amazing spell in 2nd inning and now imagine Zak bowling with him, with same intensity.
Ishant is not a swing bowler, he is a seamer. So he has to get both ‘just’ right: line and length. So, he has to stay in rhythm.
PK is a swing bowler, so it’s all about getting proper length right and expect it will swing ‘just’ right from there acc. to speed/condition.
Zak can do both. He can seam and swing and little bit of both together. Imagine losing bowler like this at ‘right’ time.
Bhaj. DID provide much needed breakthrough taking out Strauss (left handed) but if you have seen how England has used Tremlett, Andersen and Broad, they kind of complemented each other. Helped each other. e.g – CT troubled SRT a lot in 1st inning, but Broad was rewarded wicket, playing full out swinging bowl, in attempt of breaking shackle. England didn’t use Swann to put pressure on India, though he bowled well. It looked like they had to bowl him for speeding up overrates.
Whole plan was messed up as soon as Zak was gone. How much can you expect from tired PK and Ishant?
So, what is the conclusion?
If I was England’s thinking tank, I would be worried about imminent threat of collapsing at any moment of the match. India will come back hard, not with just bowling, assuming Zak/Sree will play, but more importantly with batting.
India was on back foot before stepping on the ground for 2000th test, having no Viru, but they went even few step further losing Zak bowling just 13.3 overs.
With only 2 pace bowlers + Spinner on flat track for these many overs and still India manages to create ‘chance’ for wining test at some point should be England’s worry.
Watch out England, India will most likely make a come back.
Watch your back, don’t close your eyes, it’s far from being over!
P.S. : It was really good test match, very entertaining.