What's next after 'Bazball' outsmarts 'Spin-ball'?

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | January 29, 2024 IST

Ollie Pope

Hyderabad, Jan 29: It is rightly said, "Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan."

The same replicated again after visitors England outplayed India in the Hyderabad Test by 28 runs on Sunday. 

Not many people expected England to succeed in India with their ultra-aggressive approach called 'Bazball'. The TV advertisements even continue to make mockery of the 'Bazball' style, though England have already pulled up a superb win in Hyderabad.

Whether it was poor planning, over confidence, lack of patience while batting, dearth of specialist Test batters in the line-up, poor captaincy, or English vice captain Ollie Pope's batting heroics in the second innings, the outcome was simple -  'Team India' were beaten again by England in India.

No one expected India to lose after a good first innings lead. But experts believe, fans have expressed and even Team India coach Rahul Dravid has confessed that India should have batted better in the first innings.

The second lacuna was unable to get rid of Ollie Pope in the second innings, who scored   a magnificent 196, match winning knock. 

If that was less, then the inability of India's much experienced bowling unit to break partnerships in England second innings was equally frustrating.

After the win, England team and the former English players can term it is yet another 'Bazball' victory against a formidable opposition on unfamiliar wicket. Some have gone on record saying that 'Bazball' has  won the first battle against 'Spin-ball'.

Will India bring back at least one of the Test veterans among Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteswar Pujara or Hanuma Vihari, is not a puzzle anymore. Because Indian selectors and team management have cold shouldered them despite youngsters not showing enough Test match batting skills in tricky match situations.

 But the truth remains, India need some red ball specialists in the top order. But at this juncture, there seems no immediate thinking on that.

With Virat Kohli opting out of first two Tests, Ravindra Jadeja injured, Rahane and Pujara out of favour, it is unlikely that India will have any major change in their top order even in Visakhapatnam Test.

In the meanwhile, after India's 28-run defeat to England in the Test series opener at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, former captain Michael Vaughan said Rohit Sharma’s captaincy was very, very average, adding that he hardly had any answers to Ollie Pope’s magnificent 196.

Vice-captain Pope’s magnificent 196 helped England, who had conceded 190 runs lead, make 420 in their second innings, setting India a target of 231. In reply, India were bowled out for 202, slumping to a 28-run defeat and now going 1-0 behind in the five-game series.

England were at 163/5 in their second innings, but Pope stepped in to play one of the greatest innings by any England batter in Tests in India. He used the sweep to a very good effect, dismantling the Indian spinners in an attacking fashion to his 21 boundaries in his 278-ball vigil at the crease.

He also stitched three crucial partnerships of 112, 64 and 80 with Ben Foakes, Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley respectively. As Pope and others pulled England out of trouble, Rohit didn’t appear proactive enough to stop the run-flow. He didn’t resort to changing fields to make it more attacking or get the bowlers resort to a back-up plan immediately, which meant India were left waiting for things to happen, giving England an advantage.

“Again and again, we’ve seen captains really struggle when confronting the Bazball tactics for the first time in a series. India have become the latest team to fall into that trap. Sides that play against the England team have taken a game or two to react to the way that they play; they’re not doing enough homework.”

“I thought Rohit Sharma’s captaincy was very, very average. I thought he was so reactive, I don’t think he manoeuvred his field or was proactive with his bowling changes. And he didn’t have any answer to Ollie Pope’s sweeps or reverse sweeps.”

“The greatest spinner I’ve seen, Shane Warne, would go around the wicket and get the player to sweep the leg side and say good luck trying to do that. I didn’t see that any of that from India. It was just all too easy.”

“The way that England play, they will always score boundaries. And by spreading the field Sharma was basically saying that his bowlers’ best balls would still go for one,” wrote Vaughan in his column for The Telegraph on Monday.

For England, debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley took a superb 7-62 to bowl the visitors’ to a memorable victory. Vaughan admitted that Hartley's selection didn’t sit well with him, but then it proved to be a master-stroke at the end and praised the captain-coach duo of Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum for getting things right for England.

“I was pulling my hair out watching Ben Stokes’s captaincy of Tom Hartley in the first innings. I couldn’t believe it. But this is a captain completely committed to his players. It was a complete out-of-the-box selection. And it’s been utterly vindicated.”

“The McCullum-Stokes regime get things right on a consistent basis because they back the players, they think outside the box. They are mavericks. After a day or two I thought they had overcomplicated life but they are getting it right. It is down to the culture, the mindset and the positivity and confidence they are giving these players.”

Despite England taking a 1-0 lead in the five-game series, Vaughan is expecting a fight-back from India in the second Test at Visakhapatnam starting on February 2. “I’ll be unpopular for saying this, but the India team underachieve more than any team that I’ve seen in sport.”

“They’ve got far too much talent, far too much money in the system – the pathway, the A team series around the world, the infrastructure – and yet they underachieve. Yes they won those two series in Australia, but they haven’t won an ICC event since 2013.”

“I still think India are favourites to win the series, because they will react. You go back to the series in South Africa over the New Year - they were blown away in the first Test and then they won the second Test easily.”

“But India will be second-guessing themselves about what pitches to prepare. I don’t know how the pitches can turn any more than this one did – it ragged. I said before the series I thought India were better off preparing a flatter wicket than one with more turn.” (With IANS support)

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