The lack of assistance for bowlers during the post-lunch session on the third day was a major reason England took complete control over India in the second Test, feels all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
England are now 250 runs ahead after finishing the third day at 357/6. The hosts were in trouble at one stage, being reduced to 131/5 at one stage. It was a 189-run sixth wicket stand between Chris Woakes (120*) and Jonny Bairstow (93) that has left India reeling and in need of a miracle to make a comeback.
“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 this 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 started playing a catch-up game only having scored a paltry 107 in their first innings in bowling friendly conditions. But Pandya believes that even England would have struggled. “Any team would have got the same score which we got because playing in those conditions (were tough), there was a little drizzle, and wicket got a little wet as well.”
“Today the conditions were different. When we bowled, there was proper sunlight. The wicket was ideal, something which we would have expected on the first day. But because of the conditions, the pitch started doing a lot [when India was batting].”
The ball was not gripping, says Pandya
India have gone into the Test with an additional spinner in Kuldeep Yadav when conditions indicated that three specialist pacers might have been of help. Pandya, who is doing the job of third seamer, predictably defended the decision.
“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 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.”
Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep didn’t make much of an impact on the third day and Pandya rued that the ball was 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.
There has been a lot of discussion about Pandya’s role in the Indian setup. “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.”
He further added: “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).”