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India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: The ball in England’s court

Pankaj Singh is making his debut for India © Getty Images
Pankaj Singh is making his debut for India © Getty Images

By Arunabha Sengupta

Southampton: Jul 28, 2014

A cloud cover spreads itself in greeting as one stumbles through the many convoluted connections to reach this picturesque ground in the middle of nowhere. It is a relief as one walks around the stadium through the construction site of the Hilton Hotel where the entry to the Press Box is tucked away behind an austere façade of cement and steel. However, at the same time the questions about its effect on the morning session echo in the recesses of the mind.

England sit pretty at 247 for two. However, they have not really run away with the game. The rate of scoring has been tardy, and a few wickets in the morning session will put balance right back in the game. The weather predictions say that the clouds will clear after an hour or two, but the overcast conditions of the morning may help the Indian seamers to move the ball around. The ball is still new and it will not be surprising if Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pankaj Singh and Mohammed Shami make it talk.

Alastair Cook mentioned in his press conference at the end of Day One that he thought the wicket would become faster. However, he himself confessed that he did not know exactly why he thought that would happen, he just had a hunch. In case that happens, the England bowlers will fancy their chances. But, at the same time, the England attack is unproven beyond the initial impetus provided by Stuart Broad and James Anderson, and even these two seasoned campaigners have not really been at their best in the series. Yet, the bowling line-up has far more experience in these conditions than the Indian pace attack with their cumulative experience of 16 Test matches.

It will be interesting to see the approach of the England batsmen. There was tight bowling for much of yesterday, with a rather defensive field, but these were augmented by reluctance on the part of the batsmen to take charge of the situation. Down in the series, the onus will be on them to inject some amount of urgency in their act of consolidation. It has been a wee bit difficult, specifically with Cook battling his demons to come back among runs yesterday, and Ian Bell struggling to time the ball. Much of the course of the match will depend on the approach of the batsmen today. And in case the wickets don’t fall, the way the batsmen negotiate the miserly Ravindra Jadeja will result in an intriguing contests.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(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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