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Ind vs Eng, Rajkot: Ben Duckett once again alarmed India’s constant home dominance

Ben Duckett rejoices his India time

It was the 2016-’17 series, when Ben Duckett was part of the series opener for England in Rajkot, and on the flattest India batting track in Rajkot, where three of his team-mates celebrated centuries, Duckett had the lowest score among the top seven. Eight years later, the tables have turned, and within a session, Duckett thumped India for a mind-boggling century knock.

Every often it happens that India ends their first innings around the 450-mark, and still leaves the field with dropped shoulders. Funny enough to say, but it has been the most consistent point of the tour so far. In addition, how many times one would find a visiting batter coming to India and playing more sweeps than the host?

There was a moment towards the end of the day when Ollie Pope attempted a reverse lap shot for a boundary, and umpire Kumar Dharmasena gave a puzzled look, the wicket-keeper was searching for the ball, and at first slip, with all the pressure on, Rohit Sharma, had a funky smile on his face.

Pope played one of the incredible shots
©- ESPNCricinfo/ Twitter
Duckett rejoices his India time, and ends any Bazball suspect

Before the start of the series, the question was for how many times, England would keep on playing the attacking shots in the series. They dominated Hyderabad, and even though didn’t have much success to display in Vizag, it was a treat to watch them on the fourth day. And perhaps, with this sort of batting from England, on the back of Duckett, the doubt should be boxed for the moment.

With India finishing on 445, and England tiring their legs with 131 overs of fielding, the question was whether they would still keep on going with the same intensity. Zak Crawley, unlike most of the times in this series, started slowly, and quite bizarre, that still England was 5/0 without even India’s opening bowler giving his cap to the umpire.

There were three to four warnings in the last evening to Ravindra Jadeja and few of the India batters, for running on the dangerous area of the pitch, and when Ravichandran Ashwin put his legs on the middle of the track while running, surely not deliberate, the umpires should the penalty sign.

Ben Duckett has been scoring runs at his usual intent throughout the series so far, but there have been moments when he would find himself so unlucky, whether by a peach from Jasprit Bumrah or an under edge on to his stumps. Not this time in Rajkot. The moment Rohit brought Kuldeep Yadav on the attack, Duckett swept and reverse swept for boundaries.

Duckett staying on 133*
©- England’s Barmy Army/ Twitter

The fielder got spread within a blink of an eye, and he got a few easy singles. Kuldeep’s early figures looked awful, even in the comparison of his T20 numbers. Duckett demolished the Indian bowling. Whether they were bowling short, or on the pads, or outside the off stump, or anywhere in the strip, the result in most occasion was a boundary. The way Duckett reverse swept Jadeja for a six, it was just incredible to watch.

On the other hand, even Ollie Pope kept on smashing the bowlers, who for once just seemed to be because it was meant to be. Duckett crawled himself to 114 runs between Tea and the close of play, which was the third most by an England batter in this period. His 114 runs in that last session was the second most in India, and the first 100+ runs in any session in India by a visiting player.

Ashwin shared his 500th moment, perhaps dreamt in a different manner

The talk before India’s bowling in Rajkot was who would be Ashwin’s 500th scalp? The answer now is known to all, Zak Crawley, Ashwin perhaps would have loved Duckett with a delivery spinning in and taking the top off for the celebratory wicket, and a picture to put in his living room.

Ashwin picks his 500th Test scalp
©- RevSportz/ Twitter

Well, the way England was going for that moment, anyhow a dismissal was what Rohit and the doctor ordered. He came round the wicket and bowled in the rough phase of the track, as the ball with an inconsistent bounce, hit the top of the blade of Crawley as Rajat Patidar grabbed a good catch running behind.

With that Ashwin now becomes the second fastest (98 Tests) to pick 500 Test wickets after Muttiah Muralitharan. It’s a shame that he didn’t reach 500 wickets with an exact spilt of right and left handers, as the tally stands at 251 to 249. His average of 25.71 is second to Glenn McGrath’s 25.53.

Even Ashwin was a bit perplexed with the way Duckett managed to play him. He bowled a ball looped before Duckett’s eyeline, who thrashed the ball over the rope. The very next ball, Duckett swept. The next ball was a bit short, and Duckett went back and pulled it for another boundary. What would Ashwin, just celebrating his 500th Test victim, would plan?

India gets another alarm of end of home dominance

There was so many questions over the tactics of the India team and specially how Rohit led his troops in the middle. Ben Duckett, the man who has actually changed the flow of the game in a spilt of an hour, has played in India seven times in India before today without making a fifty, and Ashwin had got him five out of those seven times. By the time, Ashwin was introduced into the attack, Duckett had already celebrated his half century.

Ind vs Eng, Rajkot: Resistance, composure and will: The Rohit-Jadeja edition on Day 1

The spinners haven’t bowled well against the Bazballers, as they call them. Rohit hasn’t been ruthless with his field placement, as the very last moment, when he set a field for the short balls, and got the wicket at the end.

No matter how much India score, this England team has all the ability to take a lead of over 150 runs even from 450 score in the first innings. The alarm has been rung way before in Hyderabad, when Pope marched to a fantastic 194 run knock.

The last 10-12 years have been excellent for India at home, but just like everything needs to come to an end, this would too come to a halt. And for the moment, it’s just a matter of time, before the hoarding gets changed into the opponent’s dressing room.

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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