England were in trouble at 131/5 on the third day of the second Test against India having lost four wickets in the morning session before adding another after the break. But from then on, Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow took command of the situation completely. At stumps, England stood at 357/6 and a strong lead of 250 runs. India all-rounder Hardik Pandya put this dominance in the post-lunch session down to little assistance for the bowlers.
The 189-run stand between Woakes (120*) and Bairstow (93) for the sixth-wicket has all but taken the game away from India’s grasp and only a miracle, or rain, can save India now.
“Nothing happened (after lunch). That was the problem. As a bowling unit, we tried but all of a sudden the ball stopped swinging and they – Woakes and (Jonny) Bairstow – took the game away,” Pandya reasoned after the end of third day’s play. “It happens – I’ve seen in Tests. You get four or five wickets quickly and then you get one partnership. Even with our batting line-up, it has happened many times. It’s just a part of the game,” Pandya said.
India were dismissed for just 107 runs on the second day after the first was whiped out completely by rain. In overcast conditions which proved friendly for the seamers, England made merry. Pandya believes if the roles were reversed, England would have struggled as well.
“Any team would have got the same score which we got because playing in those conditions (was tough), a little drizzle was there, and wicket got a little wet as well. Today the conditions were different. When we bowled today, there was proper sunlight. The wicket was the ideal one, which we would have expected on the first day. But because of the conditions, the pitch started doing a lot.”
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Pandya defended India’s decision to play with an additional spinner, Kuldeep Yadav alongside R Ashwin, instead of an ideal choice of going with three specialist seamers. “Obviously they (team management) had some thought behind it (picking the second spinner). I don’t get into that too much. I think three pacers (including him) were enough to be honest. We did enough and we bowled properly. We gave whatever we had to give. As I told you, today’s wicket was the wicket we expected and it was a proper call.”
Ashwin and Kuldeep could barely do much on the third day and Pandya rued that the ball is not gripping much due to the rain. “If this was a five-day game, spinners would’ve come into use. But because of the rain and everything, it was short and there’s not many footmarks and it was not gripping that much. If this was a five-day game, things would have been different,” Pandya said.
On his own role in the team, he tried to find the balance between whether he is a batting all-rounder or a bowling all-rounder. “If I am batting, I think as a batsman and if I am bowling, I think as a bowler. I don’t have any one particular role. My role when I bowl, I like to keep it tight and try to make sure that the batsman make mistakes. I don’t try much stuff. Keep it tight and let’s see what they do. And we know that they love to play shots and playing like that you will tend to make one mistake. We were expecting that they will (make mistakes).”