CricViz analysis of the third Test between India and England in Mohali.
England toss away advantage
After winning the toss and being able to bat first on a good batting pitch, England missed a great opportunity to draw level in this series. Had they made a large first innings score England could have led the game, as they did in Rajkot, and applied pressure to India. Given that the pitch showed few signs of deteriorating to produce uneven bounce or spin as the match progressed (see graphs below), the role of scoreboard pressure could have given England an advantage not afforded to India as the match wore on. As it was England were four down by lunch on day one after Alastair Cook and Joe Root made errors on attacking shots and by the time they were all out early on day two they had squandered their early advantage.
India’s seamers impress
While most of the talk throughout this series has focussed on the battle of the spin bowlers, India’s seamers overall have recorded a lower average, strike rate and economy rate than England’s seamers in this series and in Mohali they made two crucial contributions in England’s first innings, with Umesh Yadav dismissing Haseeb Hameed and Mohammad Shami dismissing Moeen Ali, which meant after Cook and Root’s errors, England were four down at lunch.
Umesh and Shami recorded the highest average match speeds – 87.35mph and 84.26mph respectively – and they did this despite the fact that they have not, unlike England’s seamers, been rested yet in the series and have bowled more overs than any of them.
The pace of Umesh and Shami appeared to play a role in both the dismissals of Hameed and Moeen, the former of whom was caught off his gloves by a ball that bounced more than expected from a good length and the latter of whom was dismissed after mis-timing a bouncer recorded as 76mph – 8mph slower than Shami’s match average.
Throughout the match the pair bowled with aggression but without sacrificing control. Their quality adds another dimension to India’s game and makes them a more threatening proposition outside the sub-continent.
For the second consecutive Test match India’s spinners were nothing short of exceptional. In both innings Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav displayed staggering levels of accuracy. When spinners are so accurate it takes only the slightest hint of turn or non-turn or the smallest misjudgment for the ball to be missed or find the edge or the pad. Furthermore when loose balls are so few and far between rotating the strike becomes very difficult and bowlers are able to line up batsmen.
It is perhaps revealing that after the match Cook match bemoaned that “there were no magic balls. Maybe Jonny Bairstow was the only one that was a good piece of bowling.” Such a view does a gross disservice to the difficulty of what India’s spinners are doing.
In this Test India’s three spinners landed 45% of their balls in a one metre range between four and five metres from the batsman’s stumps and 91% of their deliveries in a three metre range between three and six metres from the batsman’s stumps – they didn’t bowl one ball that pitched shorter than seven metres from the stumps. By comparison England’s spinners landed 37% in the one metre range between four and five metres, 80% in the three metre range and dropped 3% shorter than seven metres.
From start to finish in this match India’s spinners hardly bowled a single loose delivery and it begs the question that if what they are doing is as simple as Cook makes it sound, then why can’t England’s spinners do it as well?
Ashwin 2-0 Cook
After dismissing him twice in this Test Ashwin has now taken Cook’s wicket seven times in Test cricket – only Mitchell Johnson, Morne Morkel, Ryan Harris and Ishant Sharma have done so more often. Having halted Ben Duckett’s Test career with straight deliveries from round the wicket, drifting in and turning away, Ashwin played the same trick on Cook in the second innings of this Test by bowling a notably straighter line and targeting Cook’s pads and stumps. In Rajkot and Vizag 26% and 24% respectively of deliveries from Ashwin to Cook pitched in line with the stumps – in Mohali that figure rose to 59%. In the second innings Cook played for turn that wasn’t there and was bowled through the gate as Ashwin’s straighter line was rewarded.
England’s Great Little Wall
It says a lot about how well Haseeb Hameed has played in this series that his injury is such a significant blow to England. Across his six innings Hameed defended or played no shot to 420 of the 640 balls he faced and looked as assured in defence as any player in the series. The only teenagers to face more balls in a Test series than Hameed did here are Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Sachin Tendulkar – not bad company to keep and England will miss him dearly in Mumbai and Chennai.
Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz, follow him on Twitter @fwildecricket.