England go into the third Test against India, 1-0 down. An appalling last-day performance saw them lose the second Test at Lord’s. Can England fight back in this series as they prepare for the winter Ashes series against Australia?
England lost the second Test by 151 runs after being bowled out for 120 in their second innings. It took India just 51 overs and five balls to be dismissed on the final day of that match. The bookies had the draw as the most likely result, it just didn’t seem possible that England wouldn’t be able to save the test.
Changes have been made for the third test with Dawid Malan and Saqib Mahmood replacing Dom Sibley and Zach Crawley. Will the return of Malan make any improvement to the fragile England batting line-up?
Malan hasn’t played at this level since 2018 and in his last 15 test innings has managed to get past 35 on one occasion. Gone are the days when a struggling England test team can be bolstered by in-form players who are playing in the county championship on a continual basis. Now it’s mainly one-day hit and hope cricket.
Only one first class innings has been played by Malan this season and it’s August! He did score 199 in that innings for Yorkshire, but it was at the start of June. He has a test average of just over 20 for tests played in England, a few more runs than that are needed in this match.
With Sibley dropped from the team, it’s expected that Rory Burns will open with Haseeb Hameed. The latter made his return in the second Test, being dismissed first ball in the first innings and scoring nine in the second. A long opening partnership is not expected!
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In the past, England players would return to their counties to play for them. There wasn’t always such a small gap between one test and the next. England’s batsmen have not had that opportunity. Net practice is fine, but playing a match is much better.
What would England do without Joe Root? If he wasn’t captain, they’d probably do better in the field. But with the bat, Root is in fantastic form with 386 runs in four innings in this series at an average of 128.66. Compare that to the fact that in four innings of their other batsmen, only Johnny Bairstow has scored a half-century.
England face a hard task to get back into this series against India. Once this is over it’s another diet of one-day games and the T20 World Cup before the Ashes series begins in December. England fans must prepare themselves for another winter of staying up late to watch England wickets tumble at great speed.