India vs England: With series tied 1-1, a relieved team heads to Rajkot
Jasprit Bumrah, player of the match for his 9/91, reveals the secret behind those deadly yorkers
The coming of age of Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill’s return to form, and Jasprit Bumrah on song — this in a nutshell set up a creditable 106-run win for India in the second Test against England on Monday. The series now poised at 1-1, Rohit Sharma & Co. can head for Rajkot in a much better frame of mind, though the Bazballers have shown that they are different from the team that visited India in 2021 and lost the series 3-1.
The quality of the contest, which ended at the stroke of tea on day four as Bumrah nipped back the off-stump of a defiant Tom Hartley with a reverse away swinger, was much better than Hyderabad, and one has to thank the ground staff at Vizag, which does not often host a Test match.
It offered better batting conditions on the first two days, while the odd one kept low. It was 'Boom Boom' Bumrah who swung the momentum with his six-wicket haul on day two, while his yorker which got Ollie Pope doubling over is already being hailed as the 'ball of the century'.
The choice of Bumrah as man of the match for his 9/91 may make one feel sorry for young Jaiswal’s 209, but the latter has shown that his time will come.
Meanwhile Bumrah, the ‘smiling assassin’ of world cricket, later revealed that his early days of tennis ball cricket in the by-lanes of Ahmedabad helped him hone the art of the yorker, not to speak of learning from watching such greats as the two Ws of Pakistan — Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis — and India's Zaheer Khan.
Looking back, the overriding feeling in the Indian camp will be one of relief as the team heads to Rajkot with more than a week for the third Test to begin on 12 February. The 27-run defeat in the first Test, in conditions tailormade for the hosts, had left them a bit deflated, while the last-minute unavailability of K.L. Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja — not to mention the absence of the inspirational Virat Kohli — did not make things easier.
There is no confirmation as yet on whether Kohli, who has been in excellent nick in recent times, has tided over his ‘personal reasons’ and will be in a position to rejoin the squad in time for Rajkot.
Rajat Patidar, the Madhya Pradesh batter who got his India call-up recently, looked at ease in the first innings, but Kohli’s presence will certainly add muscle to the middle order as the top order is still required to deliver that extra bit in challenging conditions.
Under the circumstances, Gill’s third Test century could not have been better timed, while Shreyas Iyer, despite not getting a half-century in either innings, provided excellent support to both Jaiswal and Gill. If there was a weak link in India’s bowling attack, it was Mukesh Kumar, whose lack of pace may make it difficult for him to take wickets at this level despite his control and movement.
Finally, amidst all the hype over the win, one must look forward to the third Test in anticipation of Ravi Ashwin’s 500 wickets among other things, as his three-wicket haul in England’s second innings has left him on the agonising figure of 499. It will be an occasion to cherish for this warrior, as only the second Indian bowler after Anil Kumble to have pulled off this feat.