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England need another Hyderabad-like miracle to stop masterful Jasprit Bumrah

English hopes in India now rest on finding an answer to Bumrah – good luck with that 

February 3, 2024 12:32 pm

2nd Test, Day 2: India 396 all out (Jaiswal 179*) & 28-0 lead England 253 all out (Crawley 76, Bumrah 6-45) by 171 runs with 10 wickets remaining

VISAKHAPATNAM — If England are to conjure a second miracle in as many Tests, they will have to find an answer to Jasprit Bumrah. Given they had none on the second day of the second Test in Visakhapatnam, the odds of discovery batting fourth are firmly in the long category.

First Test hero Ollie Pope was bent double with his stumps parted by arguably the ball of the series, a vicious yorker bowled from wide of the crease. Skipper Ben Stokes struck a pose that asked “what can you do?” for the second consecutive innings after Bumrah had threaded a ball twixt his bat and pad to light up the bails.

Bumrah’s 6-fer in only his sixth home Test capped England at 253, a monstrous 143 adrift of India’s first innings total of 396. England had half an hour at the hosts under the floodlights, but by then could not rise above the perfunctory. India closed on 28 without loss to extend their advantage to 171.

How different the day had felt when England stood at 114-1, the runs coming at a rate of five an over in the early afternoon heat.

And then Zak Crawley went after Kuldeep Yadav to set the dominos in motion. Six wickets fell for 68, leaving Stokes to marshal the tail. With Tom Hartley at the other end the pair put on 47 for the eighth wicket. Indian captain Rohit Sharma was begging to get twitchy. Who you gonna call?

Bumrah uprooted Stokes with the second ball of his third spell to leave England on all fours, and completed the rout with the wicket of Jimmy Anderson.

The ball thundering into Anderson’s pads was eerily presaged earlier in the day by England’s own leading man, who struck early to keep the Indian total below 400.

You know the vibe, head pitched backwards, eyes rolling, the slow walk back to his mark to convey disbelief. We saw a lot of that in another astonishing spell from the irrepressible 41-year-old going on 21, a man still in full plumage despite the advancing years.

England began the morning needing four wickets with Yashasvi Jaiswal still at the crease on 179. It wasn’t even Anderson’s best delivery that snared the new star of India, a wide one that had Jaiswal salivating as he climbed into the shot. Foolish boy. In his haste to take the cover off it, he top-edged to Jonny Bairstow in the deep, his masterful display expiring on 209.

Anderson walked towards the wall of acclaim like Alexander the Great after downing the Persians on the plain of Guagamela. The wicket was self-evidently significant. Further exposure to Jaiswal’s blade would have had even greater consequences for English hopes. What England needed most was to expose one end and that required the quick breakthrough.

Thirty-four minutes into the day, the ball having already passed the bat with menacing frequency, Anderson caught the edge of Ravi Ashwin. In his previous over a decent shout for lbw went against him with Jaiswal on strike. Ashwin also called for a review, but not with conviction. It was pure Anderson, the new ball defeating Ashwin off the pitch.

However, as arresting as Anderson’s performance was, you wondered what the day held in store for England when Bumrah was running in. Anderson probably didn’t expect to be going again by the close. Bumrah’s career best figures of 6-45 ensured that his day was far from done.

Ashwin’s removal was the signal for Jaiswal to let rip. He went to his double hundred with a six and a four off Shoaib Bashir.

As Jaiswal channelled Jude Bellingham, running 100 metres to mid-off to salute the heavens, Stokes had a quiet word with Bashir.

This continued at the end of the over. The balls dispatched both strayed down leg. This was Bashir overreaching, trying too hard, as any 20-year-old might on debut. The skipper was calmly dispensing wisdom, trying to bring the heart rate down.

Having a veteran operating at close to peak Jimmy levels from the other end, eight unbroken overs straight outta the gate, was the insurance that allowed Stokes to bowl Bashir through the inevitable troughs. His next over was a maiden, and the final wicket of the innings would be his. Good job, skipper.

Stokes ended the day doing laps around the outfield, his commitment to the England cause undiminished. He will need every ounce of that to force a repeat of the Hyderabad resurrection. Getting the better of Bumrah batting fourth here would arguably surpass even that.

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