Home > Features >

India vs England, 3rd Test at Southampton — India will look to sustain the high at Lord’s

India won the 2nd Test by a margin of 95 runs © Getty Images
India won the second Test by a margin of 95 runs © Getty Images

It is a battle for survival for Alastair Cook while a test of sustenance for the Indians. Arunabha Sengupta looks at the two camps on the eve of the Third Test at Ageas Bowl.

The Bowl that follows Rose or — Ageas after the sponsorship deal – is borne out by the setting. The ground is unlike any other, scooped out of earth in the middle of nowhere. It is a flat green expanse with the overlooking pavilion moulded in the cast of the Mound Stand at Lord’s. Not too many years ago, the playing area was just a stretch of land where sheep grazed and once in a while, the odd man walked through, always headed for some destination, seldom tarrying to wait and watch. Today it is a stadium nearly unreal in its scenic environment, an amphitheatre where modern stands rest within the primitive inclination around the arena in concentric circles.

The sun beats down, baking the pitch, with humidity to boot, rendering an almost tropical feel to this nook in the southwest corner of England. The trees around the stadium are deceptively green, but the sultry air is reflected more in the bare façade of concrete, cement and steel that stare at us from the south-eastern corner of the ground still under construction.

Seasoned pressmen sweat as they assemble in the indoor cricket school on the first floor of the pavilion for the press conference. Scyld Berry and Simon Wilde bowl a few balls at the indoor nets, before it becomes too hot to carry on. It is easier to sit and speculate. Six former captains have already asked for Alastair Cook’s head — Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton, Michael Vaughan, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Botham and Geoff Boycott. Some wag among the scribes says that WG Grace said so as well, and communicated the same to those ghosts at the team hotel.

Cook himself seems tired of answering the same questions over and over in the press conferences. He needs runs, he knows it, his team knows it, all of England know it. There is nothing new to say. He repeats he is hitting the ball well, but no one will believe him unless his promises turn into scores in the middle. He repeats that the situation is tough, one of the worst phases of his career, but he hopes to come through it as a cricketer and a person. One almost feels his pain, as he repeats the by now hackneyed, often mouthed words. The only positive statement is perhaps that Stuart Broad has recovered and will play.

MS Dhoni comes in simmering with quiet rage, under his unflappable exterior. He has not liked the verdict of Level One offence against Ravindra Jadeja, and makes his points without ambiguity. During the rest of the session, he is noncommittal — about the team, the strategy. It will depend on the situation, on the pitch, the conditions. The team composition may change even though, India has been successful — even if you are doing well, others are striving to catch up with you. Being one up in the series, according to the captain, is not really a major thing in a five-Test series. Asked whether in a five-Test series the third Test is most crucial, he answered with the characteristic twinkle in his eye that he had never played a five-Test series, so he did not know. It is all a process and they will take things as the circumstances dictate. So whether Stuart Binny will be persisted with, whether Rohit Sharma or Ravichandran Ashwin will get look ins, remained unanswered.

The pitch is predicted to be bouncy, which may not be as alarming for the visitors as on earlier tours. It was Ishant Sharma, after all, who bounced England out at Lord’s, with some excellently directed barrage of short balls of the sort seldom witnessed in the history of Indian cricket. The short pitched stuff dealt by the English bowlers have mostly worked against them. India is one up, and although Dhoni is not keen to bank on the slim but significant advantage, one major factor is that the result stands at 1-0 without Virat Kohli firing in a big way. The general consensus is that a big score is due from the Indian big gun, if that does indeed take place and things will be tougher for England. However, similarly, Cook and Ian Bell can hardly be expected to fail forever.

On earlier tours, the Indian teams have been known to surrender early leads with remarkable alacrity in the very next Test match. However, this side has shown that it has neither the characteristics nor the baggage of the earlier teams we have been so long accustomed to watch.

It is to be seen whether England can strike back after going through one of the most dismal slumps in recent times. We also need to wait to find out whether the Indian bowlers will be able to sustain the excellent performance of Lord’s, and the batsmen the discipline.

It promises to be intriguing as the action gets underway in this most unique of venues.

Complete coverage of India’s tour to England here

(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)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Live Cricket Score: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2 at Abu Dhabi: Pakistan reach 517/4 at tea

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Cuttack curator says “dew factor” will come into play

MS Dhoni should remain India’s Test captain, says Adam Gilchrist

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Pakistan finish on top on Day 2 of 2nd Test vs Australia

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Australia lose Chris Rogers and end the day at 22 for 1

PCB honours Nobel Prize for Peace winner Malala Yousafzai

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan birthday special: Some spectacular pictures of the former Miss World

Happy Halloween 2014: Top 5 movie character looks you can try this Halloween

Telecom Secretary to meet Vodafone, Airtel executives on November 5 to discuss problems in sector

Nokia’s Chennai plant not a part of the Microsoft deal, to shut shop tomorrow

Yeh Hai Mohabbatein: Raman and Ishita to get arrested!

Ayurvedic treatment: 7 types of Ayurvedic massage you should know about

Beauty Tip #43 — Get fuller-looking lips with home-made sugar scrub

Kumkum Bhagya: Will Tanu convince Abhi to marry her?

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here