CricViz analysis of the second Test between India and England in Vizag.
Uneven bounce poses the threat
After two Test matches in a series expected to be defined by big early spin we have now had two pitches that have not been as conducive to such cricket. After the wide, slow turn of Rajkot this pitch in Vizag showed consistently little turn from the first day to the last with the maximum average degrees of spin recorded on a single day being 3.70° on day two.
Instead of taking spin however this pitch proved increasingly difficult to bat on due to uneven bounce. The graph below and the outliers in particular illustrates how such uneven bounce became more common later in the match. After England conceded a first innings deficit of 200 winning or at least drawing the match was always going to be immensely difficult on a pitch that became harder to bat on day by day.
In a match in which Virat Kohli scored 248 runs, India won by 246 runs. While it would be too simplistic to describe Kohli as the difference between the two teams it is impossible to view his contribution as anything other than crucial. Adil Rashid’s drop aside, Kohli’s performance was not so much about English incompetence as it was his own brilliance. In both innings Kohli played beautifully, hitting boundaries largely off the front foot and rotating the strike largely off the back foot.
The beehives below reveal England’s plans to Kohli. In the first innings England’s seamers initially targeted Kohli with a wide line outside off stump but he batted with admirable restraint, playing no shot to ten of his first 42 deliveries, before England were drawn into bowling a straighter line, after which Kohli begun picking off runs on the leg side and he left just five of his last 83 balls from seamers outside off stump. In the second innings England bowled straighter to Kohli – an interesting tactic given that they were by this point looking to save the game, but was perhaps driven by a desire to exploit the uneven bounce. Regardless, Kohli had an answer to England’s questions and was able to make a decisive impact on the match.
Speaking after the match Alastair Cook rightly pointed to England’s first innings collapse and the deficit they conceded as where England lost the game. Integral to that collapse was the ability of India’s spinners to find significant drift and pose a threat despite the lack of spin available from a relatively benign pitch.
Ben Duckett, Joe Root and Moeen Ali all fell victim to extra drift on the second evening and throughout the match India’s spinners found appreciably more drift than England’s. Drift encourages players to play down the wrong line even if only a fraction of turn is extracted.
Drift is the product of revs on the ball – see the Magnus Effect for more detail – and generally increases as spin on the ball increases. Despite managing to produce more drift on the ball India’s spinners retained significantly better accuracy than England’s. India’s spinners landed an astounding 45% of deliveries in a one metre range between four and five metres from the batsman’s stumps – while England landed 35%. It should be said that this does not suggest England struggled to maintain control, but rather that India were exceptional at doing so.
Duckett in the firing line
What could have been explained as recurring misjudgements in Bangladesh and Rajkot was exposed as a glaring technical flaw in Duckett’s game in Vizag as he was opened up from round the wicket by drift into his pads for the third time in his fledgling Test career and dismissed by spin for the seventh time in seven innings. Duckett has faced 52 balls in this series, all from Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, scoring just 18 runs and has been dismissed by Ashwin in all three of his innings. The pitch map below illustrates how India have targeted Duckett by bowling straight and the way Ashwin spoke after Duckett’s first innings dismissal, saying he was looking forward to “playing on his confusion” in the second innings made his eventual dismissal, an ill-judged sweep, sadly predictable.
Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz, follow him on Twitter @fwildecricket.