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England v India

England criticised for ‘baffling’ short ball ploy to rattle Jasprit Bumrah

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Cricket pundits were left baffled by England’s tactics against the Indian tail-enders in the morning session on day five as India, fueled by an unbeaten 89-run stand between Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, set England a target of 272 to win, a total that would prove match-winning.

Both Shami and Bumrah made their highest individual Test scores just when England would have hoped to wrap up the Indian innings quickly after Rishabh Pant was dismissed early in the day by Ollie Robinson. While the Indian duo showed incredible application and played some breathtaking shots – twice Jasprit Bumrah hit a drive so straight that it went on to hit the non-striker’s stumps – England’s tactics against the tail with the second new ball came under intense scrutiny.

Just as the lead edged past 200, Nick Knight on Sky Sports, questioned England’s short ball tactics, that seemed to turn pretty incessant since Bumrah – who had peppered James Anderson with bouncers the other day – walked in to bat.

“Emotions are running pretty high at the moment,” Knight said. “That seems to be the way England’s bowlers are approaching it. They are banging in a lot of deliveries, a lot of short stuff, Bumrah of course involved with Jimmy Anderson.

“Nearly every other ball is short and that’s perhaps telling its own story. The England bowlers are bowling to their field because there isn’t anyone at slip. The reason you bat at nine, 10 and 11 is because you don’t pick up length so well and you don’t play the best bowler as well.”

Emotions were indeed running pretty high. Tempers flared on the pitch as words were exchanged between Bumrah and Buttler and Anderson later chipped in with some words too.

Shane Warne felt England’s tactics were “horrible” while Harsha Bhogle and Tom Moody called it “baffling”. The length of India’s tail had been a talking point ever since they landed in England given how it proved to be a point of difference the last time these two played a series here in 2018. On that occasion, England’s No.8-No.11 averaged 21.95 while India’s averaged 11.

At Trent Bridge, India turned that narrative around, even if only a bit, when the last three added 48 runs in the first innings. Here, aided by England’s ploy to go short and have fielders in the deep, India’s tail ground it out and then unfurled their shots to take the lead to a point where an Indian loss went out of the equation.

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