Chris Waters: Haseeb Hameed is forced to sign off after setting example to peers

IT was the day that the boy became a man.

England's Haseeb Hameed hits a boundary on the fourth day of the third Test against India in Mohali (Picture: Altaf Qadri/AP).

Haseeb Hameed, 19 years young, came of age with a courageous display in England’s defeat to India in Mohali.

Batting with a broken hand and just a couple of paracetamol to dull the pain, Hameed scored an unbeaten 59 in the second innings.

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Now he flies home for an operation after an injury sustained on the opening day, his tour over with two Tests to play.

It says everything for Hameed’s character that he wanted to stay and play in those games.

“He wants to tape it up and play,” said coach Trevor Bayliss after England’s eight-wicket defeat left them 2-0 down.

“Not only can he play,” added Bayliss, “but he’s a tough little character as well.

“He keeps amazing everyone with his attitude.”

England captain Alastair Cook concurred, saying that Hameed – who batted at No 8 after he did not open – is “made of the right stuff”.

If only some of Hameed’s colleagues had shown the same fight and resilience.

Instead, England’s old failings with the bat resurfaced as they crashed to another heavy defeat.

The promise of Rajkot, where they scored 537 in the first innings of the first Test, has been followed by the reality checks of Visakhapatnam and Mohali, where their first innings scores were 255 and 283, respectively.

Big first innings totals are key on the sub-continent, where the pitches have a habit of breaking up later, and England have struggled in that respect.

Unlike Visakhapatnam, they could not offer the excuse this time that they lost the toss.

After Cook called correctly, England fluffed their lines, losing four wickets in the opening session. Most players gifted their wickets, and just Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow and, to a lesser extent, Jos Buttler, contributed significantly.

Although England fought back well to reduce India to 204-6 in reply, the hosts’ lower-order rallied to achieve a first-innings advantage of 134 that ultimately proved decisive.

The game was already up before Hameed showed some of his more experienced team-mates how it should be done.

England went into day four on 78-4 in their second innings, 56 behind.

Root, 36 overnight, progressed to the top score of 78, while Chris Woakes chipped in with 30.

But it needed Hameed’s plucky innings to give England any sort of lead, which finally came to rest on 102 when last man James Anderson was run out.

Hameed, who had to change his grip to hold the bat properly, eked out his second half-century of the series from 147 balls.

He reached it with a six over mid-wicket off Ravi Ashwin, advancing from 23 to 50 in just 18 balls.

Such was his composure during an innings that lasted 10 minutes short of three hours, that many wondered why he had not come out to open the batting on day three – particularly after he had been filmed having three net sessions.

Only post-match, however, did England reveal the full extent of his problem, which requires the insertion of a metal plate due to a fractured little finger.

England’s handling of the affair perhaps did Hameed few favours.

Not only was he not X-rayed until the third evening, but there were inevitable questions as to why he had not opened given that he had been batting in the nets.

One can understand that England did not want to give India full cognisance of the problem, along with the shake-up to their batting order, but India would surely have tried to target Hameed’s hand anyway. As tactics go, it seemed somewhat futile under the circumstances.

Attention now focuses on who will replace Hameed, with Nick Gubbins, Keaton Jennings and Daniel Bell-Drummond the three likely candidates.

All are a short flight away in Dubai with England Lions, with Jennings perhaps the obvious like-for-like replacement.

If England opt against a replacement, it would mean a reprieve for Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance and/or Ben Duckett, both of whom have been dropped this winter.

Duckett could return to open with Cook, while Ballance could slot in as an extra batsman to potentially strengthen a misfiring line-up.

The preferred option in this quarter, however, would be for Root to open with Cook, and for Ballance to be brought back into the top-order.

It would make sense to call-up a replacement, too, with Durham’s Jennings a good man for the task.

Whichever way England go, they can now only square a series that continues in Mumbai on December 8 and concludes with the Test starting in Chennai on December 16.

It is difficult to see England achieving parity – even more so without the heroic Hameed.