A lot has been talked about over the summer about England’s new era and the need for the more experienced members of this side to take the initiative and lead from the front as they look to change their fortunes. While the likes of Ian Bell and Alastair Cook did so with the bat over the first two days, it was James Anderson and Stuart Broad’s turn to ‘come to the party’ and keep England in the ascendancy. A fine display of fast bowling from the pair yielded five wickets as Anderson in particular put in a vintage performance, moving the ball with deadly accuracy to subject India’s batsmen to a ruthless technical working over. There was a mix bag of success for England’s three other bowlers, Moeen Ali picking up two cheap wickets and Chris Woakes bowling superbly without success. Chris Jordan on the other hand will remain a big concern for Cook and Peter Moores as England continue to press for victory. Save for the odd delivery beating the bat, Jordan looked devoid of rhythm and consistency as he sprayed the ball all over the pitch.
While both teams have been seen to bat long in this series, there are a number of players who have performed while their side have been in control, but have floundered under scoreboard pressure. While MS Dhoni himself batted well for a half century, if not living a charmed existence at times, both Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane both gifted their wickets away when looking at relative ease at the crease. Rohit had got himself in on 28 before holing out to mid-on off the bowling of Ali, while Rahane reached his half century before meeting his demise with an ugly mow to mid-wicket. Ravi Jadeja got a good ball from his nemesis Anderson, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar got a real working over from Broad before being caught by Gary Ballance at third slip.
Assuming England take the remaining two wickets in this innings before the visitors get the 47 needed to avoid being asked to bat again, captain Cook will have to think long and hard about which way he will go. With two days left in this match, India will look to take the option out of the home side’s hands but Cook must seriously consider whether he will want to bat last on this pitch, should India follow on and put a total of substance together. The hosts have been in the ascendancy from the start of the match but it will count for nothing if they cannot force victory at the Ageas bowl. The problem will be the fact England’s bowlers have bowled a lot of overs in this series so far and will be still looking at the remaining two Tests in this series. Additionally, with Jordan so out of form, the prospect of taking the wickets with one less bowler will put an added strain on Anderson, Broad and Woakes, although Moeen will want to step and put a performance in to assist the seamers. England will be looking to wrap up the first innings in the opening hour of day four, with the reality.
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