India vs England | Takeaways : Bristol’s false pitch and Rohit’s technical change against David Willey

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India vs England | Takeaways : Bristol’s false pitch and Rohit’s technical change against David Willey

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Bastab K Parida


Mumbai Indians players had a day out in Bristol as Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya orchestrated a majestic series victory for India. In the game, however, Virat Kohli was made to look like a fool as the wicket didn’t show any signs of movement after the Indian skipper chose a pace-heavy team.

England trick Virat Kohli with a false pitch in Bristol

The straight boundaries in County Ground in Bristol are very short - just 56 meters. It was even shorter than the one in Cardiff, which at least offered very long square boundaries. However, one thing that tricked the Indians was the nature of the wicket, which even prompted Kohli to pick Deepak Chahar ahead of his trump card Kuldeep Yadav. The decision was made based on the fact that the wicket had more than a tinge of grass on it and appeared to be a paradise for swing bowlers. However, if anything, the Indian skipper was in for a complete surprise. 

The wicket nothing short of what South Africa prepare at the Wanderers and there wasn't even a bit of seam movement, let alone swing. Although Indian bowlers adopted England’s modus operandi in Cardiff - by bowling consistent short lengths to force batsmen to hit to the large square boundaries and protect the short straight boundaries, the odd length balls were easily smacked by Jason Roy between long-off and long-on. Due to the lack of any lateral movement, the pacers were rendered completely ineffective and it took a majestic tag-team effort by Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni to curb the run-flow and restrict the hosts to a sub par total of 198 runs. However, Kohli would have rued the absence of Kuldeep Yadav, who has the ability to chip in with wickets whenever trusted, but more than that he would have been surprised by the way the wicket behaved today. 

Pandya exploited England’s middle and death over chinks

Since the 2016 World T20, England has been one of the best in the business in the powerplay overs and only Australia score more quickly in the first six than England do. However, once the Powerplay elapses, their fortunes decline. England are the fifth fastest in the middle overs, and are, staggeringly, just the 14th fastest at the death and India - especially Hardik Pandya exploited that weakness beautifully. England got a monstrous start today, scoring 73/0 in the first six overs, and 111/2 at the end of the 10th over, but they couldn’t keep up the same momentum in the middle-overs thanks to a disciplined bowling performance by Pandya. 

 © ESPN Cricinfo

Pandya, understanding that bowling only short balls were not going to be a viable option, used the variations to great effect and mixed them up to tame the English middle-order. While two of the wicket-taking deliveries were short balls, Pandya got the wicket on a good length ball and a full delivery. While he bowled only good length balls to left-handers, he consistently hit the deck hard by landing the ball minimum of 8 meters ahead of the crease. England clearly needed somebody to accelerate their scoring at the death overs, but in a line-up as powerful as this one, lower order hitters rarely get much time to get set and the key was the ability to score runs rapidly despite not being in for very long. England failed in that count and Pandya, taking the benefit of the same, ended up with a figure of 4 for 38 and restricting England to 198/8 in 20 overs.

Rohit negated David Willey with a change in stance

David Willey was absolutely lethal in the second game in Cardiff and bowled balls close to the chest, which made Rohit Sharma uncomfortable and he got out for just 5. However, to negate the impact of the Yorkshire all-rounder, today, Rohit batted out of his crease and by using his feet brilliantly, he never allowed Willey to bowl as per his own strength by taking guard almost a feet away from the crease. When Willey decided to unleash his another strength - yorker - the Indian vice-captain hit it on the half-volley for a six and after that he didn’t have to face the pacer after that. 

Also, another minor technical change helped Rohit today. There is a far clearer pattern to Rohit’s dismissals against pacers as he has consistently been getting tucked up by tight line bowling, either by playing across the line and or by playing cross-batted strokes. However, he decided not to attempt them in the initial few overs, and thanks to the fact the square boundary was much easier due to the short bowling, he made sure that the Indian crowd at the County Ground in Bristol wouldn’t return home disappointed.

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