England captain Alastair Cook and coach Trevor Bayliss “ought to have their heads examined” for selecting four pace bowlers in the fourth Test against India, says Geoffrey Boycott.
The hosts reached 146-1 at the close of day two, replying to England’s 400.
All 11 wickets to fall in the match have gone to spinners on a Mumbai pitch offering little assistance to seamers.
“You can’t keep bowling four seamers on a pitch that hasn’t done a thing,” the former England opener told TMS.
“The spinners gave too many easy balls and our seamers were straight up and down.”
James Anderson, Chris Woakes, Jake Ball and all-rounder Ben Stokes maintained a tight line, conceding just 45 runs from 21 overs combined, but rarely threatened to make a breakthrough.
Off-spinner Moeen Ali took the only India wicket to fall, bowling KL Rahul for 24, but Murali Vijay (70 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (47 not out) targeted him and leg-spinner Adil Rashid in an unbroken partnership of 107 to leave the hosts 254 runs behind England.
Moeen and Rashid ended the day with combined figures of 1-93 from 28 overs, while India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin finished with 6-112 and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja 4-109 in England’s innings.
The composition of England’s XI is largely determined by the composition of their touring squad, which currently includes out-of-form batsmen Gary Ballance and Ben Duckett.
When batsman Haseeb Hameed and spinner Zafar Ansari were ruled out of the tour after the third Test, England called up batsman Keaton Jennings, who made a century in the first innings in Mumbai.
However, rather than making their second addition a batsman, they opted for spin-bowling all-rounder Liam Dawson, who along with off-spinner Gareth Batty, was not selected for the fourth Test.
“Send for another England Lions lad,” said Boycott. “I’d have another batsman because a young kid coming in might get a hundred like Keaton Jennings did, and it’s good for the future.
“India know their own conditions better than England. They played two seamers and they didn’t look like getting a wicket.
“We played four and ours are good. Woakes has had a brilliant year and Anderson is one of the four best we’ve ever had and he didn’t get it off the straight and narrow.”
Boycott said Moeen and Rashid will have to bowl more accurately on day three if England, who trail 2-0 in the five-match series, are to maintain hopes of winning the match.
He added: “400 is a good score but that depends a lot on the quality of your bowlers and our spinners aren’t as good as theirs. They leak a lot of runs and it’s very hard for them to squeeze pressure.
“That was one of the poorer days we’ve had from Adil. His length was wrong, too many were half-volleys or leg-side deliveries.
“We’ve just got to have a better day’s bowling – better line, better length. You can’t expect the seamers to get you out of trouble, the spinners have got to bowl better.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
India have their noses in front, no doubt about it.
England’s spinners didn’t create the same pressure and the same danger that Ashwin and Jadeja did.
There is nothing in it at all for the quick bowlers, of which England have got four. The onus is on the spinners to deliver and they are going to have to do it tomorrow morning. The way the pitch is playing it would be a miracle if any of England’s quick bowlers took more than a couple of wickets.
It’s ominous because if India bat the whole day, they’ll have a small lead by the close. I would have thought any lead, in these circumstances and with their attack, is going to be dangerous.
They’ll have England batting in that very pressurised third innings of the Test match needing to score enough runs to challenge India in their second innings.
That’s the way it appears the game is flowing but it’s down to England – if they do get wickets tomorrow and bowl India out and even give themselves a little lead then they’re back in the game. You’d fancy that England need a lead of 50 to get their noses ahead.
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