Monday, 19 November 2012

India Vs England: AhmedabadDay Five

"Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane" - so goes the quote from Morgan Freeman's character in the Shawshank Redemption. Most England cricket fans will know what he means. 

Arrivng at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera this morning that hope was alive in the supporters. Get through the first hour they thought, and go from there. England nearly managed it too. As seems to have been the case in this Test the first 30-40 minutes went well enough, then came the collapse. 

It is tough to have a go at Matt Prior given how well he has played in this Test, but his expression on the way back to the dressing room said all that was needed about the shot he played to get out, tapping a return catch to Pragyan Ojha after not fully committing to a shot which was questionable in the first place. Still, Tim Bresnan has a solid technique (and would be this writers choice for a nightwatchman if England are to persist with that tactic, which they will) and as long as Alastair Cook remained then England had a reason to believe. 

Sadly, Cook could not continue, adding just eight to his overnight score and becoming Ojha's ninth victim in the match when one turned and took his off stump via the pad. The captain at least could hold his head up high, the same cannot be said of what came next. Stuart Broad completed a disappointing match with a tame chip back to the impressive Umesh Yadav, Graeme Swann brought a few cheers with a slogged six and reverse-swept four, but lost his middle stump trying to repeat the dose, finally giving Ravi Ashwin something to smile about in his 43rd over. 

After Tim Bresnan was last out Virender Sehwag and Man of the Match Cheteshwar Pujara set about scoring the 77 runs required at a rapid pace, doing so in 15.3 overs with just the loss of Sehwag as he tried to smash Swann into the next state. Having hoped for the match to run well into the final session, it was wrapped up less than an hour after lunch sending the Indian fans into raptures. 

They are a strange breed the Indian cricket fan. During play they are often more interested in a player appearing in the nearby dressing room, even if they are doing something as mundane as checking their emails, than they are on the action in the middle. The also love to boo - be it an unsuccessful appeal from either side (how dare England have the temerity to appeal?), a chant from the smattering of England supporters or, least tastefully of all, as an opposition batsman returns to the pavilion after being dismissed. Once play is over though, they are the first to offer a handshake, say that England were unlucky and predict a roaring fightback from the tourists in the next match. 

Mumbai is very much in the thoughts of most Englishmen and women here. Stuart Broad taking to Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the Test to say "So excited to get back to Mumbai 2moro". Ahmedabad has not been an easy place for the tourists and will not be remembered fondly by players or fans alike. There is an irony however that in a state where alcohol is illegal, England still got hammered. 

And hammered they were. For all the qualities shown by Cook and Prior, the problems in the side are clear and with Ian Bell flying home at 4pm local time to join his other half who went into labor this morning then changes are inevitable. Quite how many it remains to be seen. 

For now though, it is back to that most unkind of emotions - hope. Later in the film quoted above Andy Dufrense writes: " Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things" and with that in mind, all England hope there is a suitable response come the start of the second Test on Friday. 

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