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CLOSE-IN: Bazball or not, England will come all guns blazing at Ranchi (Ajit Weekly News Column)

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CLOSE-IN:  Bazball or not, England will come all guns blazing at Ranchi (Ajit Weekly News Column)

The city of Ranchi will be the venue for the fourth Test match between India and England. Based in the newly formed state of Jharkhand, the city boasts of being the residence of India’s former captain and legendary superstar cricketer, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. There is a ring of halo around cricket there because of him.

India, have played two Test matches previously in Ranchi and in both of them, their batting has been the reason for success. They drew the match against Australia in 2019 and beat South Africa convincingly in 2017.

Rohit Sharma, the Indian captain, has a double century under his belt at this venue, having made it against South Africa. India’s consistent and skilful allrounder, Ravindra Jadeja, has also tasted success, both as a bowler and as a batter, in both Test matches.

The pendulum has swung in favour of India in the Test series against England, especially after their resounding win at Rajkot. India are now 2-1 up and with a lead that has them just ahead. The margin of defeat faced by England was so huge in the last Test match, that to rise from it, thereafter, would need them to showcase enormous willpower and conviction.

The present England side under Ben Stokes, one feels, has that positive and never-say-die attitude. Bazball is a term that is being flouted quite extensively, however, the core thought behind it is to play freely and without worrying about the consequences.

England have transformed Test cricket. They are like prized boxers who have only one thing in mind, either to floor the opponent or get knocked out in doing so. This is precisely why one feels that this England side will come forcefully in the 4th Test match.

They have shown that India are not invincible in their backyard having won the first Test match of this series at Hyderabad. A 5-Test series is always a very different proposition. It has the ingredients of a 5-set tennis encounter to a 3-set one. The additional matches allow the cricket players and teams to adapt to and gauge each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Both India and England are in that frame of mind.

The fourth Test match is normally one by which time batters have shown their preferences and vulnerability, whereas, the bowlers have showcased all their variations and ware. This is when mental and physical fatigue also comes into play.

The Indian side, being one ahead, has decided to rest their most lethal bowling weapon, Jasprit Bumrah. One understands that rest will go a long way in preserving him for the future. However, one feels it has opened the doors of comfort for the English batters.

The Bumrah threat is one that still rankles in the minds of the England batters and India without their strike bowler would be a joyful thought for them.

There is a common belief that the pitch at Ranchi will be a rank-turner. If this is true, it could be a folly that India may regret. The Indian spin bowlers are head and shoulders above the English spinners. To give them a wicket where their average spinners can be effective would be just what England would dream of.

The Indian batting has shown that they too are not comfortable on turning tracks and lack the innovative skills required to adapt to it. At present their batters, apart from Rajat Patidar, are all in prime form and a good wicket would be ideal for them to bat England out of the game.

The English side has been scarred badly, especially, with their loss at Rajkot. Their bazball strategy has failed in India and is now being criticized by the very critics who were enchanted by it. The sweep shot, most of them played on a pre-meditated basis, has not proven to be a consistent option to succeed.

Joe Root, their most technically correct and skilled player, has failed to deliver with the bat and has now become their important spin bowler. The number of overs that he has bowled has definitely taken a toll as regards his batting. One may be able to do so physically, however, the peace and tranquillity that one normally saw when Root was batting was missing in his new avatar.

England came here boasting about capturing the final frontier, a series win in India that has eluded every side in the last 10 years. They looked like doing so initially, however, India have hit back through the batting of young Yashasvi Jaiswal. He has been the major thorn for the English side and a player they would have not focused on as one who would play such an important part in the series.

This daring Mumbai left-handed batter reminds one of the great Brian Lara. He scores his runs at a brisk pace with an air of confidence last seen through the batting of Virendra Sehwag. Jaiswal is one player who has the potential to surpass the 400 runs individual record set by Lara. What a wonderful achievement if he does so.

This England side has a different hum to it. Ben Stokes and his merry men are not ones to accept defeat so easily. They will come at the Indian side with all their might. A wounded animal is one to fear the most and England are definitely one.

Cricket should be enjoyable, as the battleground is all set for a thrilling encounter and one in which England will attack with all guns blazing.

For an Indian supporter, all roads and eyeballs will be glued to the cricket stadium of Ranchi.

An Indian win is all that matters to keep the frontier intact.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal)

–Ajit Weekly News

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News Credits – I A N S

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