VISAKHAPATNAM: First, the bad news. The myth of Bazball grew limbs and became an outsized monster on the back of some thrilling fourth-innings chases. The Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum regime saw their team chase down scores in excess of 250 four consecutive times. In 150 years of Tests, it had never been done before they placed their tanks in the front of conventional Test wisdom. That sort of hedonism is still in play. While chasing a score, they have won eight out of 10.
Now, the good news (this may not even be all that good). England still need 332 to win on a surface where the odd ball is keeping low, with some turn. There’s also the Jasprit Bumrah factor. The ball is 14 overs old. Considering he has got it to reverse around the 20 overs mark in the first innings as well as in Hyderabad, a clutch of wickets could follow.
There’s also R Ashwin, who gave India a much-needed breakthrough before stumps. After going wicket-less for the first time out, this was already a better start.
In decades gone by, you wouldn’t even entertain thoughts of any other result. India home and hosed by tea. In 90 years of Tests in this country, batting becomes progressively harder. Ergo, fourth innings chases have usually resembled a deck of cards in various stages of collapsing on itself.
With this team? With that mindset? Nobody really knows.
As far as James Anderson was concerned, the job would be done in 60-70 overs. “I know there are 180 overs left in the game, but we will try to do it in 60 or 70,” he said in the post-day press conference. “That’s the way we play, and we saw that tonight with Rehan (Ahmed) going out and playing his shots.
He wanted to get out there and chase those runs down, even tonight. We have set our stall out, tomorrow (Monday) will be no different, we will play the same way we have the last two years. Whether we win or lose, it’s not irrelevant because we are extremely competitive and want to win every game we play, but we want to play in a certain way. I think we will be doing that tomorrow.”