England must come to terms with India’s unassailable 2-0 series lead after their defeat in Mohali and the loss for the rest of the campaign of a young player who appears born to be a Test opener.
Alastair Cook and Trevor Bayliss had little to smile about after India knocked off a paltry target of 103 to win by eight wickets inside four days – and Haseeb Hameed’s impending flight home to have a plate inserted in his badly-broken left little finger was a further blow.
Yet as England consider who to call up in the 19-year-old’s place in time for the fourth Test in Mumbai, at least captain and coach know for sure after Hameed’s 59 not out that he is their man for the future at the top of the order.
The injured Lancastrian had to bat out of position at number eight in the second innings, yet still – in stands with Joe Root (78) and Chris Woakes – refused to accept England were done after conceding a first-innings lead of 134.
Cook could only rue the tourists’ failure to take advantage of winning an important toss, making only 283 at their first attempt, before Hameed helped to dig out 236 in the second innings to at least set a three-figure target.
After that proved predictably insufficient, Cook reflected on a lost opportunity and Hameed’s misfortune.
England’s captain said: “It’s obviously desperately unlucky for a young player who’s impressed us all with his technique, his talent and now his bravery and determination that when he’s playing for England he’ll do anything to get out there.
“I thought the way he played today was a very special knock. If you needed anyone to prove how tough a youngster he is, that does.”
Bayliss saw enough to conclude too that Hameed has shown many attributes to which England team-mates and hopefuls should aspire.
“I think there’s a lot of guys in there in awe of what he’s been through,” said the Australian.
England’s management have had to persuade Hameed that he must leave the tour for his operation.
Bayliss wore a look of bemused admiration as he explained both Hameed and his father, in India with the rest of the family to watch him, are still reluctant to retreat. “He wants to stay and play the last two Tests,” said the England coach. “He wouldn’t take no for an answer. He wants to stay, and his old man said ‘Just tape it up – he’ll be alright.’ Not only can he play, but it’s great to see an attitude like that.”
Hameed’s application was a stark contrast to England’s collective first-innings failings, and Cook did not shy away from the truth.
“There was no hiding behind it – we just weren’t good enough to get that 400,” he said. “You just have to hold your hands up. There’s nothing worse than when you know you can play better and you’re not quite doing it.”
Virat Kohli, meanwhile, made his admiration of Hameed clear – congratulating him on the field, and praising him off it.
The India captain said: “He’s shown great character for a 19-year-old at this level.
“You can sense it as a captain, this guy is intelligent, this guy knows the game.
“I think he’s a great prospect for England and he’s definitely going to be a future star in all forms if he keeps persisting with his skill.”