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Three tons in six Tests is something the selectors would have taken any day when it came to replacing a batsman like Jonathan Trott at No 3. Yorkshire boy Gary Ballance has hit the right note this summer with his second ton in consecutive Tests against India. Abhijit Banare analyses Ballance’s ton in the third Test at Southampton.
While the seniors in the England team have struggled to take onus, Gary Ballance is leading the race among the younger lot to consistently make a difference. With two centuries in consecutive Tests, Ballance has made Jonathan Trott’s absence from No 3 spot a distant past. If there’s any trace of Trott left at that position is the ability of his replacement to grind the bowlers and bat for life. In six Tests, he has already notched up two fifties and three centuries — impressive numbers for a batsman replacing Trott’s calibre.
Unlike the Lord’s Test where he looked to fight for his runs, on an a relatively easy track at Southampton, Ballance infused the much needed flow to the England innings which could otherwise have crawled to 200 at stumps with Alastair Cook still bearing a satisfied smile. The 24-year-old left-hander cut and drove at ease while the man at the other end was waging a battle to survive as long as he can.
This century was more about an easier track where the Indian pacers bowled to his strengths more often. He was at comfort facing short balls. Despite all this, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Ballance has shown notable weakness to deliveries that go across him from a good length or are a bit overpitched. This Indian pace attack, as seen from the previous two matches has the ability to collectively nag you down. But the scenario can be different when Ballance faces much quicker bowlers.
Ballance isn’t your typical left-hander though, who generally are graceful and classy. He is more of an accumulator but possesses the ability to switch in to an aggressive mood conveniently. He showed it during his 90s at Lord’s and even here.
One of the challenges which Ballance has succeeded in is the ability to steady the innings early on. Ballance has almost been like an opener with Alastair Cook being the usual wicket within the first 10-15 overs of the innings. And as of now, Sam Robson hasn’t looked steady either. England could’ve easily plunged into more misery if the new No 3 had failed to click. But the Yorkshire batsman has presented the patience required at that batting position which is evident from the Lord’s and Southampton innings.
Undoubtedly, Ballance has the temperament to play the big innings. With the pitch not playing any tricks, and Ballance being adept against this pace attack, he will surely be aiming for a big one on Day Two.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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