England favourites to win 5th Test against India at Edgbaston
India were hit by the ‘Bazball’ phenomenon twice in as many days as England gained control of the fifth and final Test being played at the Edgbaston cricket ground with some terrific batting in chase of 378 on the fourth day.
England were just 119 runs away from winning the fifth and final match of the Pataudi Trophy, with 7 wickets in hand as the visitors were ordinary with the ball and also made mistakes in the field.
The Bazball idea, or approach, of playing Test cricket — inspired by the new Kiwi coach of England, Brendon McCullum — is nothing but batting aggressively despite all odds stacked against them. The English batsmen were able to make a lot of progress with the same approach in their home series against New Zealand which they won 3-0, and are now favourites to win the fifth and final Test against India.
This aggressive approach did not work for the English side in the first innings when they were shot out for just 284 in reply to India’s 416, but after the visitors were bowled out for 245 on the fourth day with 377 runs ahead, the England batsmen had the chance to have a shot at their highest-ever run chase in Test cricket history.
Alex Lees ticked off the proceedings for England with a brisk half-century and a 100+ run stand for the first wicket with Zak Crawley, and despite India striking thrice in quick succession, the pair of Jonny Bairstow — who scored a fine century in the first innings — and Joe Root took England to a position of control by the end of the proceedings on the fourth day on Monday.
England were placed comfortably at 259-3 at stumps with another 119 runs to score and deny India a series win, who dominated the majority of this game with both the bat and the ball. Now, on the final day, this bunch of Indian players under their 36th Test captain Jasprit Bumrah will face nothing short of a test of character if they have to pull off a favourable result and lay their hands on the Pataudi Trophy for the first time since 2007.
After Alex Lees scored a 65-ball 56 with 8 fours and Zak Crawley made 46 from 76 balls with 7 fours, the pair of Joe Root] — 76 not out from 112 balls and 9 fours — and Jonny Bairstow — unbeaten on 72 from 87 balls with 8 fours and 1 six — took England closer to the finish line.
Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow have so far added 150 runs for the fourth wicket — close to half of the runs India set as a target for England — and with Ben Stokes yet to bat, the odds are in favour of the home side to win this Test and force a draw to the series by 2-2, unless the Indians come up with something magical and spark the familiar English batting collapse, which has not been witnessed of late.