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By Arunabha Sengupta
During the second hour of the morning session, Ishant Sharma beat Joe Root several times outside the off stump. There was movement, which was foxing even a top order batsman batting well past his hundred.
And yet, with James Anderson on strike, the Indian bowlers persisted with a crowd of men arranged in a circle around the bat, the length short out of necessity. On the sluggish pitch, with the foreknowledge of the length, it was the easiest task to defend the balls coming for the body. One did not even have to go through the additional bother of getting up on the toes.
Over after over the move failed to bear fruit, but the Indian pacemen did not switch to pitching up to Anderson. The tactics were baffling to say the least. Throughout the morning there was hardly any delivery that tested Anderson’s front foot play.
Equally strange was Root’s policy of farming the strike that continued right to the lunch break. Even after Anderson had passed his half century, he was striking the ball with flamboyance and ease, the singles were turned down. Surely a man batting on 69 does not need to be shielded. Had all the runs been taken, Root would have probably been nearing his double hundred and England sitting on top with a sizable lead.
It was curious cricket all around, and did not really make for entertainment for the spectators. The unrest became vocal and rang across the ground every time runs were refused. As for the Indian fans, no session could have been more frustrating on a Saturday morning.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)
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