India vs England, 5th Test: Beleaguered visitors must bat positively to have a shot at saving the match

After the third day’s play, Ben Stokes had a positive mindset despite India’s strong reply to England’s 477. The hosts ended Day 3 on 391/4 and it would have required England to go all out to make sure India didn’t take a lead of more than 50 runs.

The England players congratulate Liam Dawson (C) after he takes a wicket on Day 4 of the 5th Test against India. AP

The England players congratulate Liam Dawson (C) after he takes a wicket on Day 4 of the 5th Test against India. AP

The England players congratulate Liam Dawson (C) after he takes a wicket on Day 4 of the 5th Test against India. AP

Despite India trailing by just 86 runs, Stokes was surprisingly confident about England’s chances.

“Definitely, we don’t want to go away 4-0 or 3-0,” Stokes said in the post-match conference. We want to walk away with a win and go away with our heads held high. That all depends on how the fourth day goes, if we can get out there and run through them in a session. We have to bat well in the second innings and put them under pressure.”

“Regardless of how the guys have done in the lower order, they still have to get up and start again on a wicket that might deteriorate and we have Adil Rashid who gives us turn. So it’s always going to be hard for them to come in. And hopefully we can toil away like we did today and not give them a chance of looking to take a lead,” he added.

But nothing went according what the England all-rounder expected. Given the way things panned out on Day 4, England are now in a tricky position where a win is out of equation. On a day which saw Karun Nair smash record after record, England found themselves in a spot of bother and are now probably staring at yet another defeat given their propensity for collapses.

With one full day to go and England still trailing by 270 runs, the first approach that will come to their minds is block, block, block. Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed put up a tremendous act of defiance on the fourth day in Vizag but it didn’t help them save the Test. After Cook and Hameed, the rest crumbled. And this is the lesson they need to learn from the second Test defeat. Even while going forward with the blockathon, the batsmen should look to play their natural game. Getting into too much of a defensive mindset will only build pressure on the team. Captain Virat Kohli will set up attacking field placements and the Indian spinners will be allowed to rush through the overs. Playing positive cricket will give a reprieve from the pressure. Cook needs to step up after a mediocre series. The pitch still looks good for batting and the England batsmen should make the most of it. Throughout the series, the visitors have lost wickets in a heap and collapses have hurt them the most.

The Indian spinners will come at them hard and a good mix of caution and aggression might put them off. They should again look to unsettle Amit Mishra, who struggled in the first innings. The England players might possibly have sore legs, especially after being made to chase leather by Varun and Co on day four. It might have deflated their confidence. They are on the back foot again and the but this is precisely where the England batting line-up needs to pick itself up and display a fight which has been missing for most parts of the series. But most of all, their approach will be the key and it will decide whether the series scoreline will read 3-0 or 4-0.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 08:15 IST

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