On the Second day of the fifth Test, India in rather bizarre fashion gave the momentum back to England. The bowlers after reducing England to 198/7 at stumps on Day 1, let them add 134 more runs on Saturday. Stuart Broad and Jos Buttler’s 98 run partnership for the 9th wicket meant England finished with 332 runs on the board.
Not for the first time in the series have Indian bowlers struggled to pick the tail-ending wickets. The same problem persisted at Trent Bridge and Southampton.
Indian bowlers bowled with discipline and built pressure on the English batsmen on Day one. They reduced the English side from 123/1 to 198/7 in no time. But on Saturday morning, the bowlers squandered away runs. They lacked discipline in line and length, especially against Broad. The pitch map of bowlers against Broad showed a lack of a plan for the tail-ender. The dots on the pitch map indicating the ball pitching are scattered all over the pitch.
So the question remains – Did the team management chalk out a plan for the tailenders or was the idea just to keep bowling and hope for the batsmen to fold? Because the bowlers lacked rhythm and a proper tactical plan to dismiss the tailenders.
The field setting against the tailenders also said a story. Virat Kohli set a defensive field at the start of day two, two fielders at slip for Broad and Buttler. In most occasions, when tailenders bat, captains choose to set more close-in fielders, trying to mount pressure on the batsmen, hoping that they would fold. But with a defensive field that Kohli set, it is easy, even for tail-enders to look for the ones and twos when most fielders are manning the rope. The pitch map for Broad shows that he scored most with singles and twos.
With Broad and Buttler on the crease, the body language of the bowlers visibly changed. They looked tired and haggard. The four-bowler tactic doesn’t seem to work for India. They need five bowlers to be able to rotate the bowlers more effectively. Kohli dropped all-rounder Hardik Pandya and went with debutante Hanuma Vihari who only got one over to bowl.
Jasprit Bumrah expressed that they failed to execute their plans against tailenders and felt an extra bowler would have allowed some rest to the bowlers. On being asked if he missed a fifth bowler at the post-match press conference, he said, “I don’t know about team selection. That’s a question for the management.
“When you have an extra bowler, that gives you some cushion while bowling. With four bowlers you tend to bowl more overs because then you have to come back quickly (to bowl).
“That was the only difference I felt, otherwise we tried our best, we bowled our hearts out, we bowled a lot of overs. An extra bowler sometimes gives you enough rest.”