Alastair Cook (batting in picture) looked in good touch for England © Getty Images
By Arunabha Sengupta
Ageas Bowl: Jul 30, 2014
The pace after lunch was frantic. In the end the declaration, though putting India in a thoroughly unenviable position, was in some ways a humanitarian act.
Ian Bell strode out, the shadows of doubt surrounding his injury disappearing as he pulled and cut Pankaj Singh for two boundaries and then stepped out to drive Jadeja down the ground for four.
A couple of swishes missed the ball outside the off stump before a crashing drive through the covers brought up the hundred. And almost immediately after that Jadeja bowled him round his legs attempting the sweep. The 23-run cameo hadhurtled along in 21 balls.
At the other end Alastair Cook was not exactly rattling along at the same rate. MS Dhoni kept two slips and two gullies for the England captain when Singh bowled, sending the message that India were still looking for wickets, projecting the brave front that they were not out of the game. Jadeja maintained a tight line, with a slip and two short legs, getting some assistance from the rough outside the lefthander’s off stump. The England captain could not quite break the shackles in spite of serious efforts. The occasional voice broke out from the crowd, egging him on – with the tone a trifle uncharitable. Finally, he swept Jadeja square of the wicket and the man at long leg could not get around and cut it off. The boundary completed his half century,off 93 balls. For the first time in 40 Tests he had crossed 50 in both innings.
The short lull was broken by a spate of sudden boundaries. Rohit Sharma’s part time spin was tried and proved too flimsy a restraint for the batsmen. Joe Root took eleven off him in an over. Cook and Root both plundered boundaries off the next Jadeja over. The two overs brought 24 runs and England took drinks leading by exactly 400. 81 runs had come in the 14 overs after lunch in spite of the somewhat tardy approach by Cook.
The manhandling of the spinners ensured that the ball was thrown to the pacemen. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami bowled in tandem, with long slow walks back to the mark. Cook was still somewhat short of tearing the bowling apart. But young Joe Root more than made up for it. He pulled Shami with gusto and then launched into Bhuvneshwar. A late was executed with finesse a scoop with considerable cheek, and the two hits over the head were essayed with class. His fifty was brought up with the second straight hit, off just 38 balls.
The following over from Jadeja saw Root cut late and perilously close to Rohit Sharma in the slip for yet another boundary.Off the next ball he went for a slog sweep, missed and had his off-stump pegged back. He walked back with 56 from 41 balls with nine boundaries, a blistering knock that had glittered in the glorious sunshine. Cook, on 70, strode towards the pavilion behind the departing Yorkshireman.The declaration had been made. The score was 205 for four, all that coming in just 40.4 overs.
Early tea was taken after which India will need to survive four sessions. The first – the last of the day – will be an extended one. In all they require to bat through a minimum 132 overs,with the rather unrealistic alternative of scoring 445 for a win.
Having rested — and relished — through the post lunch assault, James Anderson and Stuart Broad are sure to charge in at the Indian batsmen. The task ahead is not very enviable for the visitors, but at the same time it is the perfect opportunity for a young side to demonstrate character.
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)