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Ind vs Eng, Rajkot: Bazball stays as Bazball but needs to collect smartness

England's bazball under Stokes and McCullum

Oh Bazball! Oh Ben Stokes! Oh England! Three words always find themselves at the top of the newspaper or in the sports section all around the world, and especially in India. Since England started their Bazball structure under Stokes and Bredon McCullum, there have been speculations, and those have been constant speculations.

As if the whole world have been waiting for the day even since Ben and McCullum took over and started to show a carefree aspect of the game, as if people have been desperate for them to slip, and finally they got their first valid chance.

In Bazball and Ben Stokes, England needs to show belief

The first question, thrown to them, was for how long? Would they continue the same Bazball effect after a defeat? They did. The second time eye brows raised to wonder if they would continue the same in the Ashes? They kept on doing!

England goes down, India fly high with Bazball in
©- Fox Cricket/ Twitter

The very recent reason to ponder was their current India tour and how the England side would go bonkers with Bazball against India’s quality spinners specially on those tired decks on the fourth innings? Well, they did in Hyderabad, they kept the flow in Vizag, and they halfheartedly did in Rajkot!

The only unknown answer behind the speculations would be why did they stop their shots in the second innings of Rajkot? No one knows, perhaps the comments of Joe Root asking Stokes the same question proved the players didn’t know themselves the reason too.

Once they dropped Rohit Sharma in the first innings, who went on to make 131, and shared a 204-run fourth wicket partnership with another centurion Ravindra Jadeja, and India smelt 450, England was always playing the catchup game. The good thing was finding themselves at 207/2 at the start of the third day.

Once you gave away a lead around 130-150 runs in India and you have to bat last, the likely outcome is a huge defeat. The fact that it didn’t happen in Hyderabad was a miracle in itself.

It’s the same story. Faf du Plessis, after their horrible 2019 tour in India, asked for the omission of tosses, and preferred the fact that the away team would choose whatever they want to do. That came on the back of South Africa’s 3-0 defeat, with the last two loses by an innings. Once you lose the toss, the script in India has been same for the last 20-30 years. No one won, but this England team with Bazball surprisingly won the first Test.

Root’s ‘wrong situation’ reverse scoop gets the wrong blame

From that point, Root thought of going for a reverse scoop and the ball, probably hit the edge of his bat, and ended in the hands of the slip fielder, Yashasvi Jaiswal, who grabbed a fabulous catch. And suddenly, India got energized and England fell like a pack of cards.

Had Johnny Bairstow or Stokes or even centurion Ben Duckett could have protected England from that spot, no one would have remembered Root’s shot at all. But because everyone followed him in the change room, they all started to bark up the wrong tree.

Root's untimely reverse sweep
©- Sujeet Suman/ Twitter

In Bazball era, Root has been batting well, with an average of over 50 under Stokes and McCullum. The only mistake he did was attempting that particular shot at the wrong time, and most importantly the wrong bowler. You never do these funky things to Jasprit Bumrah, who has that mind-blowing yorker, and a surprising slower ball.

With Ravichandran Ashwin withdrawing himself from the middle of the Test match due to medical emergency, the easiest job for England would have been seeing off the initial phase in the morning, and go with the ‘Bazball’ mindset from the afternoon session.

But it’s clear that McCullum won’t be much fused about the shot! Or he might advice Root to practice it more in the nets and looks for better execution from the future.

“It’s Joe Root, crickey. I mean seriously? The law of average suggests he’ll fill his boots in the next two.” McCullum addressed Root’s struggle. There have been advices coming around from the pundits that Root should play like Root, with his natural way of batting, and others could go in the Bazball way. But the flip of coin says, once Root gets back to the old way of scoring, and other kept of smashing and getting dismissed quite frequently, their mindset suddenly shifts to the veteran. Why would they sacrifice themselves? The team should go with a same attitude, it just can’t be a double sword.

Root tried to take his time in the second innings, but because he went into the shell, he found himself under so much pressure. Once he saw a Jadeja delivery under his eyeline, he just went for the sweep shot, even after being so late in it, and result being adjusted as LBW.

Root’s shot could be the reason of the fall, but it can’t be the only and biggest reason behind the defeat.

Ind vs Eng, Rajkot: Jaiswal led India petrified England to go 2-1 up

Backing Bairstow or call Will Jacks- England may go for the former

Johnny Bairstow looked really poor in the series, and the modes of dismissals say that he has no answer either to pace or spin. With 98 Tests under his belt, Bairstow has the third lowest average of 36.45 behind Ian Healy and Mark Boucher, both of whom have player every match as a designated wicket-keeper, while Bairstow in 43 of those 98 Tests.

But there is a different prospect too. Since the 2022/23 Ashes, he has featured in 19 Tests, and averages 49.50 with six hundreds and also missed out on those roads in Pakistan. In the same frame of time, Stokes has an average of 36.62 in 26 Tests, while Root has 46.71 average in same number of Tests.

England needs to be sure whether they want to continue with Johnny, and the most guaranteed way of looking at it is they will, specially in the Bazball ear where both Ben and Brendon have given them the license of going free and whack from the start. So, in doing so, it’s their job to back players when there are red lights on them.

Tom Hartley and Ollie Pope took England to an inspiring victory
©- Nikhil Rajput/Twitter

But if they decide to look around, it’s better to add Will Jacks, who is whacking the ball around the park at the moment in the Bangladesh Premier League. His inclusion will give Root some respite from long spells of bowling too.

But whatever they do, they need to carry the same mindset, but with little smartness. The players shouldn’t deal much attention to the outside noise but also needs to hear from inside. There won’t be an issue in this England side of putting fingers on others, and going blind from a loss. For them and Bazball, things need to go perfectly; they can’t afford a bad session or missed chances in the field.

The other sides in the past never gave them a chance of making the team look like a winner. The England side under Bazball have done so. For the 1000000th time, it’s been narrated, that Bazball isn’t about going bananas with blind slogging, but it’s about reading the situation and give the opposition an aggressive answer to make them do what you want for your comfort.

England started the series on a perfect note, but they slipped twice, and that means they will now need to walk on the glass. It’s a challenge, and you know who loves these challenges? It’s Ben Stokes, and it’s his Bazball England side.

That Mad Writer
Author: That Mad Writer

Someone who loves how Steve Smith from being Australia's future Shane Warne has become present Don Bradman, gets inspired by Anderson's longevity, gets awed with Kohli's drive and Southee's bowling action. Never gets excited with stats and records, and believes in instincts, and always questions spinners bowling with the new ball.

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