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England told they “let India back in” and should have got a bigger first innings lead

England told they "let India back in" and should have got a bigger first innings lead

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England scored 290 in their first innings in the fourth Test against India at The Oval, but it could and perhaps should have been more

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Silverwood: Credit due to India’s tailend batsmen

England managed to get a first innings lead of 99 in the fourth Test against India, but Joe Root’s side have been told they should have scored more runs.

England were 62-5 at one point, having lost three wickets late on day one and then two more early on day two, but Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow led the fightback.

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Pope scored an excellent 81 on his return to the Test team, sharing an 89-run partnership with Bairstow and a 71-run partnership with Moeen Ali.

Chris Woakes also scored an excellent fifty, further underlining his impressive all-round credentials.

However, with Pope unable to reach three figures and both Bairstow and Ali getting out for 37 and 35 respectively, Nasser Hussain and Mark Butcher believe England should have ended up getting a much bigger lead.


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Nasser Hussain said England were lacking “a bit more toughness in that middle order” and Mark Butcher stated that they “let India back in” to the game
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Sky Sports)

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Hussain claimed that “if there was just a bit more toughness in that middle order then they could almost still be batting”, while Butcher believes England “let India back in” and they should be “150 in front”.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Hussain said: “You can always have a better day but when they were 60-odd for five, to get up to 290 just shows the value of that middle order and Chris Woakes in particular, batting with the tail, got them a healthy lead.

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“Both sides actually ended up getting more than expected but you always feel, on a flatter Oval pitch that if there was just a bit more toughness in that middle order then they could almost still be batting.”


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Butcher then added: “It’s easy to forget they were five down for 60 but I think there was an occasion there towards the back end towards the lunch and tea break and onwards where India had ran out of ideas.

“They weren’t able to make the ball move so much, it was getting soft which they were complaining about and they couldn’t stem the flow of runs from Moeen Ali and Ollie Pope.

“But then England let them back in again and I’m not criticising Moeen for trying to have a go at the left-arm spinner, he has the best strike-rate against spin of anybody in the world in white-ball cricket so he can take down the left-arm spinner.

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Moeen Ali’s shot selection was questioned after he was dismissed playing a slog-sweep with both mid-off and mid-on up inside the circle and two fielders back on the leg side
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“It’s the option that has blown people’s minds about Moeen Ali throughout his career. How can a guy who’s so good and with so many options often pick the wrong one?

“Mid-off and mid-on were up, there were two men back on the leg side for that slog sweep and he went for the slog sweep when he could bash it over long-on and long-off and there was nobody back.

“Was it the right option in being aggressive? Yes. Did he take the right option to do it? Probably not. That is what let India back in and what has been the difference between England being 99 in front and perhaps being 150 in front and that might make a massive difference.”



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