DateLine: 8th September 2018
By Andy Jalil at the Oval
India make England struggle for runs in fifth Test
It was a good opening stand of 60 and it wasnít until the 24th over that India broke the partnership. Not very surprisingly it was Keaton Jennings who went first having been in poor form throughout this series. Cook is retiring now but at the start of the series England were needing to establish an opening partner for him but that hasnít come about. Jennings has had ample opportunity to nail a position for himself at the top of the order but has only managed an aggregate of 153, averaging 19.12 from eight innings in this series. And so the search continues for the winter tours.
The England top order has struggled throughout this series and it has been the middle order that has had to boost the England total time and again. The number three spot has also to be filled and even though Moeen Ali is being tried now, heíll certainly have his work cut out if he is to play the role of the main spinner and occupy the vitally important position of number 3 in the order. He did stick to his task well in this innings, forming a 71-run stand with Cook.
India bowlers, having had to work hard during the first wicket stand, did so again during the Cook and Moeen partnership. While Cook took his time to build the innings, Moeen worked hard and gave support, batting with caution. To some extent he curbed his natural game of free and sometimes flamboyant stroke-play and remained largely defensive. England had only 68 at lunch for the loss of Jennings, who went for 23, snapped up at leg slip off Ravindra Jadeja when he expected the ball to turn into him but it went straight on.
Cook had progressed to 37 when he was fortunate to be dropped at gully off Ishant Sharma. India squandered two chances of a wicket as two balls later Moeen, on 2, was missed off Jasprit Bumrah. He got a thick edge to his drive and Virat Kohliís one-handed attempt was not successful. Batting in unfamiliar position, so high up the order, Moeen did struggle and played and missed several times.
Cook eventually, after 200 minutes at the crease, brought up his 50, just under an-hour-and-a-half into the second session with a straight push for two off Mohammad Shami, having faced 139 balls. By tea he had taken England slowly to 123 for one and his own score to 66 with Moeen on 23. Cook had added five more to his score when India struck three quick blows. Cook played-on to a ball from Bumrah which was moving away from him on the total of 133. His 71 was his highest Test score of the summer, one more than his score in the first Test at Lordís against Pakistan.
Three balls later Bumrah struck again trapping Joe Root lbw when the England captain, on nought, moved across his stumps, attempting to flick. In the following over, a run later, Sharma removed Jonny Bairstow, also without a score. Bairstow, defending, was only half forward when he edged a ball behind the stumps. Suddenly the picture had changed from 133 for one to 134 for four with three wickets falling in a space of nine balls.
Moeen, battled on taking the total to 171 when England lost Ben stokes, playing across to Jadeja and being pinned in front of the stumps. Finally, six runs later, Moeenís long innings of just over four hours ended with him having faced 170 balls for his 13th Test half century. Then, on 181, Sam Curran was caught behind on the second ball be faced on his home ground and that was 181 for seven. Both wickets fell to catches behind the stumps off Sharma who had three for 28. The last three wickets to fall had gone in a space of ten runs.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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