India v England: Lessons as hosts head for big win after day three
India v England: What lessons did we learn as the tourists continued to struggle on day three of the first Test in Ahmedabad?
India heading for big win
The loss of three wickets at the end of day two meant that avoiding the follow-on was always going to be an uphill struggle for England, and so it proved on day three. Five wickets for left-armer Pragyan Ojha – including that of Kevin Pietersen – helped restrict the tourists to 191 in response to India’s 521-8 declared, and India captain MS Dhoni elected to back his bowlers to skittle England cheaply a second time. The prospect of chasing a score is still possible, albeit unlikely based on the past three days, but this would be a very different proposition for the Indian batsmen who are well used to playing on this kind of surface. England’s second innings has got off to a promising start, with Alastair Cook unbeaten on 74 and Nick Compton 34 not out – 111 without loss will provide a huge confidence boost after the blow of following on, but on a deteriorating pitch, India are still the favourites for the win.
Lack of DRS makes no sense
Cook was fortunate not to be given out when he looked plumb lbw to the bowling of Ojha late on day three. It again raised the question of why DRS technology is not available in Test matches involving India, who have elected not to use the review system. There are very few who have any sympathy with the Indians when they fall foul of a poor decision, and they appear to be shooting themselves in the foot with their reluctance to acknowledge the high success rate of DRS. The BCCI have said that they will be happy to allow it to be used when it is 100% accurate, but the plain fact is that DRS enhances an already high-class panel of umpires. DRS is primarily there to give teams the opportunity to overturn a decision that is clearly wrong, such as that in the final session today; if the evidence is not beyond doubt, the on-field call remains. A decision needs to be made by the ICC that would remove the choice of whether to use the technology or not from national boards.
Glimmer of hope
Cook and Compton have it all to do again on Sunday morning. They may have runs on the board, but they will look to play themselves in again for the first half hour. There were promising signs of a good understanding developing between the two openers, and if they can continue to rotate the strike, the risk of a bowler backing either of them into a corner, and forcing a loose shot, is reduced. Compton looked more and more comfortable as the innings went on, and Cook was playing India’s spinners equally well. The first major objective on day four will be to get as far as lunch, and not worry unduly about the run rate. England are still 219 runs behind, and despite a good start, the task of avoiding defeat is still a mammoth one. Two days remain, and this second innings needs to extend well into the final day if India are to be thwarted in their attempt to go 1-0 up in the four Test series.