‘We’ve shown great character’ – Broad
Stuart Broad has called upon England to “do something special” on the last Test day of the Visakhapatnam Test.
England were challenged to survive for a minimum of 150 overs if they were to save the match which, on a deteriorating wicket, seemed an improbable scenario. But, having reached stumps on day four for the loss of only two wickets, Broad said the whole side had taken encouragement from the performance of their opening batsmen and still felt the draw was achievable.
“Everyone believes it can be done,” Broad said. “When you watch the way we batted this evening: 60 overs for two wickets; we’ve only got another 90 to go. It shows you can bat on that pitch if you apply yourself.
“If two or three batsmen get stuck in like the openers did today, we will save the Test. That’s quite exciting. You’ve a chance of doing something – I won’t say heroic, but doing something quite special. A bit different. It might not be 100 off 150 balls, but it might be 20 of 150 balls that helps your team get in a great position.
“We’ve got the characters, the players and the depth of batting to do it. The key is breaking it down into small partnerships: whether it’s 15 minutes, whether it’s 15 balls, or five runs, these sort of things slow the game down for you so it doesn’t feel as if you’re climbing up a mountain.”
England’s hopes took a substantial blow when Alastair Cook was trapped leg before to the last delivery of the day. But his partnership with Haseeb Hameed had defied India for 50 overs and, according to Broad, shown the rest of the team what was expected of them on the final day.
“It’s always disappointing when you lose a wicket in the final over,” Broad said. “Especially someone as dogged and strong as Cook. But we batted 60 overs for two wickets. That gives us a lot of encouragement. We’ve still got wickets and a lot of batting to come in the changing room.
“The way Cook goes about it… the calmness he shows. The courage he shows. He’s set a precedent, if that’s the word. You have to follow his lead.”
Broad was equally effusive in praise of Hameed, who endured a testing spell of short-pitched bowling and was finally dismissed by an unplayable delivery that scuttled along the pitch.
“He played a tough innings,” Broad said. “It reminded me of the Mike Atherton knock at Trent Bridge in 1998 when Allan Donald was charging in at him. Haseeb was hit first ball, which damaged his hand, but he didn’t show anything and calmly went about his business. He showed a huge amount of courage and didn’t let a bit of indifferent bounce change his movements.
“He looks made for Test cricket. As a bowler in his team, he is an enjoyable man to see walk out to bat because you know he has a calm head on his shoulders. He just wants to bat for his team. Today runs weren’t on his agenda. He wanted to bat time to give England a chance to save this Test. It took a beauty of a ball to get rid of him. Not many batsmen are going to hit that, are they?”
Despite England’s unpromising match position, Broad felt the side could take “huge credit” from their fightback. After a poor session towards the end of day two, he suggested England had shown character.
“We had a bad hour-and-a-half at the end of day two,” Broad said. “But since then we’ve shown a lot of character. To still be in this Test going into day five from the position we were in at the end of day two is a huge credit to us.
England’s openers kept India at bay for more than 50 overs © AFP
“Even today, turning up to the ground 300 behind, it is very easy to throw the towel in. But we put a lot of pressure on India. We took early wickets. We didn’t let India control the scoring rate and didn’t let them declare. And that led us into a pretty solid batting display giving us a hope tomorrow.
“A lot of Tests have been saved with teams going into the last day two wickets down. And that’s got to be out aim. In Auckland in 2013 we went into the last day with four wickets down and saved the game.
“We’re very happy with today. We’ve given ourselves a great chance and if we can keep things quiet for the first 90 minutes, the pressure will only grow on the Indian bowlers.”
Broad has also not given up hope of playing in the third Test in Mohali despite an injury to the tendons in his right foot. Broad sustained the injury diving in the field in the opening moments of the match but still produced an impressive performance.
“It’s been a pretty sore Test,” Broad said. “I dived for the ball and my toe slipped the wrong way and I’ve done some damage to my tendon, which has been a bit awkward. If you do that in the second over of a Test, you’ve only got one option and that’s to keep playing or you stuff the team a little bit.
“There are plans is to get a moon boot on at the end of this game for a few days to try to offload the tendon. We’ve about 17 days before the fourth Test in Mumbai, which is quite a long time. But it’s less for the third Test in Mohali.
“It’s annoying to miss any Test and I don’t know that I will miss it yet. But hopefully I’ll definitely be fit for Mumbai.”
Despite the injury, Broad delivered an impressive eight-over spell on the fourth day and claimed his best figures in a Test in India.
“It felt like a decent time to bowl,” he said. “There was a little bit of indifferent bounce and reverse swing. It was nice to play on a pitch that was worn and there was a bit of variable bounce so I was able to use the legcutter a bit more which makes the reversing ball a bit more dangerous.
“The batsman is looking for the cutter and then you can wrap them on the pad with a quicker inswinger. Zaheer Khan was very good at bowling off-pace and would then surprise you with a really quick inswinger. Jimmy Anderson and I talked about trying to get batsmen into a routine of facing a slower pace and then hitting them with a quicker ball coming into the stumps. He dismissed Pujara that way.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo