India v England: Can England bounce back?

Cricket Thursday February 22, 2024 By: Harry Howes

England’s Test series continues in India this week and following a disappointing showing last time out, Brendan McCullum’s side are looking to bounce back in style. A shock win to kick off the series gave England hope of causing an upset but India ultimately showed their class, winning the second and third Tests with relative ease.

But with two matches left to play, England remain confident and will be looking to reward the fans that have travelled with something to shout about, as well as make the 4am starts for those of us back home worth it.

The story so far

Given India haven’t lost a Test series at home for 12 years, there wasn’t too much optimism for England going into the series. Yet, as we have often seen with Bazball, McCullum’s side were able to spring a surprise in the opener.

In one of England’s best ever away victories, they stunned the hosts, winning a dramatic first Test by 28 runs. Ollie Pope stole the show with the bat, bouncing back from a solitary run in the first innings to show his class, producing a stunning 196 to record England’s second-highest ever score in a second innings in India.

And it wasn’t just Pope’s runs that made the difference. Lancashire bowler Tom Hartley was a surprise inclusion in the side but a magnificent 7-62 on his debut left India stunned. Hartley’s first ball in Test cricket was knocked for six but he shook off his early nerves to deliver an iconic performance.

While confidence was high in the England camp following the first Test, it didn’t take long for India to bring them back down to earth. They’ve lost just three of their previous 46 home Tests and they soon showed why.

They set England a target of 399 on their second innings and what would have been one of their greatest-ever run chases proved too much. India ultimately won by 106 runs, thanks in large part to opener Yashavi Jaiswal’s phenomenal first innings 209, which included seven sixes.

If India’s performance in the second Test didn’t shock England, they soon made up for it. The third match in the series was about as one-sided as you can get, with the visitors struggling to compete in Rajkot.

The hosts set a strong target of 445 and while England didn’t disgrace themselves in reply, securing 319 thanks to Ben Duckett’s 153, there was still a lot of work to do. But their hopes of a famous upset were soon over before they’d even started.

Jaiswal picked up where he left off, recording 214 not out as India declared, leaving England with a daunting target of 557. A pitiful batting response saw them bowled out for 122, with Mark Wood the only batsman to surpass 20 runs.

It was the biggest win in India’s history and England’s worst defeat for 90 years. Their only slim saving grace is that it surely can’t get any worse for the rest of the series.

England target historic turnaround

The fourth Test gets underway in Ranchi in the early hours of tomorrow and something needs to change following the capitulation last time out. McCullum has named Ollie Robinson in the side for the first time this series, while Shoaib Bashir is back after missing the previous Test.

Rehan Ahmed and Wood miss out from the bowling line-up, which could include Stokes for the first time since his knee surgery in November. The England captain has been seen bowling in the nets and there’s a chance he returns with the ball in hand in a bid to turn his side’s fortunes around.

Stokes has already commented on the conditions of the pitch in Ranchi, which is showing cracks on either side of the wicket before a ball has been bowled. The series has been unpredictable to say the least so far and the quality of the pitch may yet lead to further twists and turns.

While we don’t know what will happen on the pitch, one thing that’s certain is that England won’t make drastic changes to their approach and style of play. Since McCullum and Stokes took the reins, they’ve stuck to their Bazball principles for good and for bad.

Their full throttle, aggressive play looks great when it works, as we saw in the first Test, while it has the potential to lead to embarrassment when it doesn’t quite go England’s way. But with the players conditioned to it and raring to go, there’s every chance that it can yield another iconic result and cause an historic upset in the remaining two Tests of the series.

Looking ahead to a summer of cricket

Regardless of the result, it’s fair to say English cricket is alive and kicking right now and a strong performance in the final two Tests will really whet the appetite for the rest of 2024.

Ahead of the T20 World Cup, England host Pakistan in a warm-up series in May as they look to bounce back from a disappointing showing in last year’s ODI World Cup. Bazball will then be back in action as England host the West Indies and Sri Lanka in two Test series on home soil.

And the action continues well into September, with Australia visiting to take on England in a T20 and ODI series. To see all the action from the best seats in the house, enquire about our exclusive hospitality packages today.

April 2024

All Posts

Latest from the Blog

Cricket Thursday April 11, 2024
Looking ahead to a summer of cricket

Cricket and summer go hand-in-hand in England and a manic period of top-class action is on the horizon. We’re very much in the calm before the storm, with an explosion of both domestic and international cricket around the corner. With England...

Olympic Games Paris 2024 Wednesday April 10, 2024
Olympic Games Paris 2024: Team GB Rowing Chances
int(174)