Somewhere amid their 36 all out at Adelaide Oval, the remarkable comeback at the MCG and the rearguard for the ages at the SCG, the story of India’s Test tour of Australia has been about the injuries.
There was a short list even before India left for Australia, with the names of the Sharmas – Rohit and Ishant – in it, but since then, the number has increased alarmingly. So much so that the team for the series-deciding final Test at the Gabba will likely look very different from anyone’s idea of the best Indian Test XI.
Virat Kohli was always going to leave after the first Test, and Rohit was going to be available for the third and fourth Tests – nothing has changed there. But elsewhere…
Yes, that was the first of those. Pat Cummins making sure Mohammed Shami – the new-ball partner to Jasprit Bumrah – isn’t around to trouble them for the remainder of the series, adding injury – a fractured forearm – to insult as India completed their 36 all-out show.
$VAR1 = 0;
Mohammed Siraj replaced him for the second Test, but then it was Umesh Yadav's turn to limp out. Not an impact injury, but a calf strain. And Yadav was back home not long after.
The pace attack would ideally have had Bumrah, Shami and Ishant, with Yadav the spare. Bumrah had a group of rookies to do the job with him after that and, it appears, he might himself miss the final Test now because of what might be an abdominal injury.
Poor KL Rahul, he wasn't even out in the middle, just a back-up, when his tour was cut short by a training injury. And it appears that Mayank Agarwal is injured too, while R Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari, who were so heroic on the final day at the SCG, are not fit enough to play the final Test. Wait and watch on those for now…
It's the hamstring for Vihari… and the back for Ashwin.
Pant copped a blow to his elbow while batting in the first innings in Sydney, didn't keep in the Australia second innings, and then came out to play a remarkable knock on the final day. He should make the XI for Gabba.
But Jadeja won't. That was a first-innings injury too. He didn't bowl in the Australia second innings. Was possibly not in a condition to bat on the final day. And has since had surgery to fix a dislocated thumb.
That's the story so far… one Test to go, but more than winning the match, and the series, getting a fit XI on the field might be India's bigger worry.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ind vs Eng, 3rd Test, Ahmedabad
Batsman insists a lead of 100-150 could be defendable in fourth innings on tricky pitch
Zak Crawley has insisted the third Test is “nowhere near over” despite England being bowled out cheaply in their first innings.
Crawley, the one England batsman to shine amid another grim performance, believes batting last on this Ahmedabad surface could prove “extremely difficult” and suggested a target of as little as 100 could prove challenging for India.
So despite England having pulled off a couple of victories from unlikely positions in recent years – the Ashes Test at Leeds in 2019 springs to mind – Crawley dismissed the idea his side will require such a “miracle” this time.
“Absolutely, there’s a way back into this game,” Crawley said. “It’s nowhere near over. We could bowl them out for late 100s, early 200s. And if we can get any sort of lead on that pitch, we’ve a chance in the fourth innings.
“I don’t think it’s going to require a miracle, to be honest. Batting last on this pitch is going to be extremely difficult. If we bowl well on Thursday and then get a nice lead – even a 100-run lead or 150 – we’ve got a great chance of winning the game.”
While Crawley admitted England’s total – just 112; their lowest first-innings score in Test history in India – was “a bit short”, he did not think it was as far under par as might be anticipated.
“We know we’ve should have got a few more runs,” he said. “We’re a bit short. But if we had made 200, that would be a nice competitive score.
“I think our bowlers could easily take 20 wickets on this pitch, with the standard they are. We didn’t really help them with the lack of runs, but we can put that right in the second innings. We need a lot to go our way and to play extremely well.
“The challenge today was half the balls were going straight on and half were turning. In Sri Lanka it seemed every ball was turning, but here some were skidding on and that was the ball that was taking wickets.
“But I think the pitch is going to continue to break up. It’s going to go up and down a bit more for the seamers and spin a bit more for Jack Leach. It’s definitely going to get harder to bat.
“That’s why I say we’re not out of this game. If we bat well in the third innings, we can put them under a bit of pressure and we can defend anything on this pitch if it continues to get worse.”
Crawley also admitted there was “frustration” within the England camp after more decisions from the TV umpire went against the touring side. But he recommended his side “keep trying to be better” rather than focusing on any perceived ill-fortune.
“We’re behind the game and we need those 50/50 calls to go our way,” he said. “But it seemed like none of them went our way today. That’s just the way it goes.
“That’s out of our control, so we’ve got to keep trying to be better. Hopefully we can play better tomorrow and we can take wickets without needing the 50/50 decisions.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Kings vs United 6th Match 2020/21
Islamabad United 197 for 5 (Ifthikar 49*, Hales 46, Talat 42, Nabi 1-26) beat Karachi Kings 196 for 3 (Sharjeel 105, Azam 62) by five wickets
Chasing 197 in the final over might suggest this game was something of a humdinger. In truth, it was an error-strewn, sloppy contest that few on either side deserved to win. As is often the case with games like these, Islamabad United so often find a way to get over the line, as they did on Wednesday, withstanding an astonishing 59-ball 105 from Sharjeel Khan.
The Karachi Kings opener looked destined to have cost his side the game as he struggled, almost woefully, for fluency in the Powerplay, but 94 off his final 35 balls helped power his side to the highest first-innings total of the tournament. It was his opening partner Babar Azam whose 54-ball 62 ended up as the notable match-losing innings. He might have been the one keeping the run rate afloat while Sharjeel stuttered, but fell away badly at the death when a power-hitter’s presence might have propelled Karachi more than the 196 they ended up with.
Islamabad responded by attacking from the outset, spearheaded by Alex Hales and Faheem Ashraf in the Powerplay, and even as the wickets fell, they continued to go after their shots, refusing to allow the asking rate get out of hand. An invaluable 94-run stand between Iftikhar Ahmed and Hussain Talat held things together through the middle overs, and while Karachi were never out of the game until the penultimate over, they never quite found an effective way of building any sort of pressure on the chasing side.
It was a contest defined by, at times, shocking bowling and fielding, especially by Islamabad, who took no fewer than three wickets off what ended up being no-balls, and dropped three further catches, not taking a wicket until the 19th over. By that time, Karachi’s opening partnership had put on 176, the highest stand in PSL history. But Karachi would be equally profligate with the ball, leaking 14 extras. Mohammad Amir’s inaccuracy at the death would prove to be the final nail. Asif Ali smacked a knee-high full toss he bowled for six to level up the scores, and Iftikhar did the honours with five balls to spare.
Star of the day
This man was almost nailed on to wind up in the column below – with the multiple dropped catches in the field – but by far the most significant reason Islamabad even got close in this game was a whirlwind of a cameo from Hales. Imad Wasim and Amir had helped Karachi put Islamabad against the wall before the chase had truly begun with the wickets of Phil Salt and Shadab Khan. But Hales’ approach to Aamer Yamin’s first – and, inevitably, only – over produced the first incipient signs that a remarkable chase was on. Aided by a no-ball, almost inevitably, Hales would go on to produce the most expensive over in the history of the PSL. Five fours and a six would help Islamabad get 29 off it, and suddenly, the asking rate was in control, and much of the Powerplay still remained.
The opener was off and away, and played with the sort of abandon that fetched him such success in the Big Bash League, racing along to 46 off 21 before Waqas Maqsood finally got rid of him. But it wasn’t before he’d helped Islamabad plunder 77 off the Powerplay; Karachi, by comparison, had managed just 33. What might have been a rout would end up as a sensationally dramatic victory, and Hales was at its heart.
Miss of the day
Sharjeel had struggled for any rhythm until Shadab brought himself in for his second over. He might have been unlucky that Sharjeel’s first swipe off him didn’t end up down long-on’s throat, but that was just the beginning of a contest that was less match, more fever dream for the Islamabad captain. He would follow that up with three abysmal balls that Sharjeel would put away for sixes much more decisively. Shadab lost any confidence he might have had after that, never to even consider bringing himself back on for another over even as the pacers offered full tosses and free hits like they were going out of fashion.
When he came out to bat, he was beaten all ends up by an Amir inswinger at pace – his bat was nowhere near – and sent on his way for a golden duck. It was just the second time the allrounder has been dismissed off his first delivery, and he’d sent down his most expensive spell on the same day. His side might have sneaked home, but the memories from the day are more likely bitter than sweet for the Islamabad captain.
After an explosive start to his PSL career in the first game where Mohammad Waseem took three wickets, the 19-year-old backed it up with an equally stellar second outing. There might not be anything in the wickets column, but forced to come on and bowl his final two overs when Sharjeel was at his destructive best, Wasim allowed just six runs off his last over. The two overs either side of his, bowled by Faheem and Hasan Ali, leaked 17 and 13 respectively. In that context, four overs for 30 runs seems little less than heroic. Islamabad have some superstars in their line-up, but this emerging player truly appears to be living up to the name.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
Recent Match Report – England vs India 3rd Test 2020/21
Stumps: India 99 for 3 (Rohit 57*, Rahane 1*, Leach 2-27) trail England 112 (Crawley 53, Patel 6-38, Ashwin 3-26) by 13 runs
What do you see when you look at a pink ball? As Joe Root had indicated on the eve of the Ahmedabad Test, there’s not a lot of data to back up any preconceptions about day-night Test cricket. Therefore, both sets of players came into this contest at perfect liberty to see in the conditions whatever they so chose.
Ben Stokes, for England’s part, had been “licking his lips” in anticipation of a seam-dominated joust in what he clearly envisaged being the Trent Bridge of the East. And sure enough, England’s optimistic surge continued on the morning of the match, as James Anderson and Stuart Broad were thrown together for one last heist, like the cast of Ocean’s 14, before Root won a crucial toss and handed his batsmen the same opportunity that they had seized upon in the first Test – a chance to post a gargantuan first innings and dominate the match narrative through sheer weight of runs.
Well, so much for the best-laid plans and all that. Unfortunately for England’s dreamers, India saw clean through the optics, and the lacquer, and all the paraphernalia that comes with this most fundamental switch of the sport’s basics. Instead they looked directly at another dry, dusty red-earthed deck, and opened their ears to the sweet music of 50,000 passionate fans at the newly minted Narendra Modi stadium – which, even when half full, was still more populated than almost any ground bar the MCG.
The upshot was an ardour-dousing day of one-sided dominance – one that has emphatically killed off any hopes of Root’s men emulating those of Sir Alastair Cook nine years ago, and inflicting on India a rare home series defeat. The late dismissal of Virat Kohli was a boost to their hopes of limiting their deficit but by that stage Rohit Sharma was rumbling on towards another century – very different, but no less emphatic, to the game-breaker he produced on the first day of the previous Test.
And though Anderson and Broad proved predictably parsimonious in their combined analysis of 15-7-27-0, they had been fighting the rising tide from their opening spells after England’s catastrophic batting malfunction had surrendered any right to set the match agenda. Instead, England’s attentions began to stray to factors beyond their control – most notably, the state of the footmarks that were forming big cavities for their heavy-limbed seamers, and the state of the TV umpiring, which reprieved each of India’s openers on evidence that may have been correct but was less-than-conclusive, much to Root’s mounting fury.
Instead, the mastery of R Ashwin – in his 77th Test and now odds-on to reach 400 wickets before the match is done – was matched for the second Test in a row by the eager apprenticeship of Axar Patel, who proved his debut in Chennai had been no fluke by improving on his Test-best figures with a remarkable haul of 6 for 38 in 21.4 overs.
Between them, they harvested the doubts that still lingered from that last Test, and instigated a collapse that was remarkable even by the standards of England’s last visit to India in 2016-17.
From a pre-lunch scoreline of 74 for 2, with Zak Crawley batting with uncommon poise and panache, England squandered their last eight wickets for 38 in 17 overs – almost universally spooked by the fear of what might have been, rather than by any unplayability on the part of the balls that did them in.
Between them the spinners accounted for nine of England’s ten all told – the exception being Dom Sibley, who flinched to slip in the second over for a duck to give Ishant Sharma a souvenir from his 100th Test appearance. On the evidence of the rest of the innings, Ishant is unlikely to be over-worked in the next few days.
Despite some unconventional seam movement for Jasprit Bumrah in particular, India turned to spin as early as the seventh over – and were not made to wait for vindication. Jonny Bairstow, hailed as England’s missing link in Chennai despite a top score of 47 in his two appearances at No. 3 in Sri Lanka, showed that visualisation hadn’t been a big part of his post rest-and-rotation break. He poked uncertainly at his first ball from Axar and was slammed on the knee-roll by the ball that didn’t turn – his wasteful use of the review merely compounding his confusion.
That brought Root to the middle several hours earlier than he would have liked – although in his earliest overs, he was at least shielded by an extraordinary flurry from Crawley at the other end. It would prove all too brief in the end, but while it lasted, Crawley’s timing was stunning – right from his very first scoring shot, a non-committal block that pinged through long-on off Bumrah.
He continued in the same vein en route to a 68-ball fifty, replete with drives and clips whenever seamer and spinner alike over-pitched. And just as Rohit had transcended the conditions in Chennai through his uncompromising weight of stroke, so Crawley appeared to be providing the forward momentum that England needed to post a competitive total. So long as he endured, and enabled Root to grow into his day’s work, the chance was there to make a good toss count.
But then, on 17, Root made a fatal misjudgement – Ashwin’s brilliance is through the air every bit as much off the pitch, and having given the impression in his first three Tests of the winter that he was infallible to the trickery of all spinners, Root chose to slide onto the back foot to a ball that just kept hanging in the air longer than he had anticipated, and was pinned in front of middle and leg as the ball pitched and gripped. Tellingly, he had barely unfurled his single sweep in the course of his 37-ball stay.
Moments earlier, England seemed to be set to claim the morning spoils. Instead, their mood was wrecked three overs later, as Crawley succumbed to the best double-whammy of the day. Two deliveries from Axar, pitching in almost identical spots – the first ripped venomously past the outside edge; the second kissed straight on through off the deck, into the knee-roll, to leave England on 80 for 4 and with two new batsmen at the crease.
The first of those, Ollie Pope, didn’t even see out the over after lunch, as he too was done in by Ashwin’s flight, and beaten around the outside edge by another ball that skipped on through to hit off stump. And one over later, Stokes surrendered on the back foot to Axar, pinned in front of off as he rocked back and simply missed with a defensive poke. At Chennai, he’d been launching such deliveries over midwicket in a “get them before they get you” mindset, but here he felt obliged to drop anchor for the cause, to no avail.
The rest were rounded up with minimal fuss – Ben Foakes the last to go for a becalmed 12 from 58 balls as he took missed a straight one, bowled by Axar as he rocked back to cut and missed. In mitigation, the timing of their final collapse – an hour into the afternoon session – did mean that England would be bowling as the witching hour set in, but it was going to take a bout of necromancy from Anderson and Broad to revive England from this point.
Suffice to say, it did not transpire. Both men were promoted to the new ball ahead of Archer – which was food for thought in itself after the manner in which he had roughed up Rohit in the first innings at Chennai – but in their familiar, self-preservatory fashion, both men dragged their lengths back, almost subconsciously, to avoid being driven, rather than attack from the outset in the do-or-die manner that the moment required.
Shubman Gill, for his part, did his utmost to ride out the threat – he took 27 balls to score his first run, by which stage he had been reprieved by the third umpire after Stokes at second slip failed to close his fingers around a low edge off Broad. Archer eventually scalped him with the short ball, but it was too little too late for England’s hopes – which were perhaps best summed up by Pope’s eventful few minutes in the field in the closing overs.
One moment, he came close to pulling off a world-class one-handed take at short leg as he pre-meditated Rohit’s sweep and launched himself to his right. The next, no doubt still brooding on the one that got away, he dropped Kohli at slip off the luckless Anderson, who still hasn’t claimed the main man’s wicket for four years. On this evidence, he might not get another opportunity before this contest is done and dusted.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket
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