Chennai : England defeat India in the first game of the series by a whopping 227 runs to claim an early lead in the four-match series. Since it was a collective effort from this English side to earn the win we will look at the five most crucial performances that led to India’s undoing : –
1. Root and Sibley’s 200-run stand
England were 67 for 2 at Lunch after having lost two wickets in succession towards the end of the session. The momentum was with India at the break and a wicket at that stage would have added the pressure on England. But the two batsmen’s partnership filled with positive stroke play from the captain and old-fashioned batting by the opener complemented each other to build a solid foundation for scoring big in the first innings. They targeted Nadeem and Sundar during their spells after the drinks break and gave nothing to Ashwin except for when he pitched it short they punished him. After tea, the two batsmen attacked more and capitalized on the hard work that was done in the previous session. Root brought up his 100 in his 100th game, which made him only the ninth batsman to do so and the ton was also his third in three consecutive tests. Sibley played out 286 deliveries for his 87 before being dismissed in the last over of the day. With a clear and a successful plan against spin, the two placed their team on the driver’s seat at the end of the day.
Trivia : Root averages 85 against Ashwin in tests ( 438 balls faced against him). Michael Clarke is the only batsman (300+ balls versus Ashwin) with a higher average than Root against Ashwin, having scored 247 for just one dismissal.
2. Ben Stokes’ balance between Attack and defence
Ben Stokes was playing his first innings in six months after his last match was played against Pakistan at home. He connected every slog sweep into the stands while being ever so solid in defense. Like other batsmen, he played with caution against Ashwin who has got him out more than any other bowler and then collected most of his runs through the others. His 82 off 118 deliveries meant that India would have to bat long to have a slim chance of getting a result out of the test.
3. Jofra’s double whammy
As we’ve seen in the recently concluded India vs Australia series, whenever India got to a great start by their openers, they have posted competitive totals. Rohit and Shubman’s danger on a flat deck could have cost England because they play their shots when they bat and therefore the runs flow as well. Rohit was dismissed by nicking to the keeper against a short ball bowled by Jofra. One factor that is always seen amongst batsmen who face Archer for the first time is their underestimation of the bounce that Jofra generates because of his landing at the time of delivery which does not include a jump. Since he does not have a jump when he lands on the crease, the batsman facing him may overlook his ability to bowl quick and accurate bouncers. But his high arm action helps him to surprise them on most occasions. Rohit is one of the better players of the short ball but even the opener was caught off guard against Jofra. The other wicket was a soft dismissal of Shubman when he was caught at mid-on by Anderson. India were reduced to 44/2 within the first ten overs of their innings while chasing a first innings total in excess of 550 that added the pressure of avoiding a potential follow-on as well.
4. Anderson’s best over till date?
Two peaches that could only be bowled by a quick of Anderson’ calibre. The batsmen to fall prey to Anderson’s rockets were Shubman and Rahane in the second innings. The dismissals were just two deliveries apart and were very similar in nature. Both batsmen leaving a gap between their bat and pad and allowing the ball to reverse late and uproot the off-stump for a cartwheel making the bowler look lethal. One of the balls between the two wicket deliveries was reviewed by England after it struck Rahane low on the pads which remained not out as the umpire’s call came into play. a lot of the experts are calling it Jimmy’s best over till date. It has been compared to one of those Flintoff overs against Ponting and Kallis. But this proves that you cannot keep Anderson out of the game for long irrespective of the fact that there are clouds in the sky or not! The scorecard read 92/4 in the first session itself with the entire day remaining to play out. It was a match-changing over which made a drawn result a herculean task for the Indians to achieve from there on. Anderson usually bowls in short bursts as a measure to manage the workload but he has brilliantly managed to pick wickets in those periods.
Trivia : Anderson’s spell was then eighth time he’d taken at least three wickets in a spell lasting five overs or less. All eight of those instances have been after 2015.
5. The spinners’ web
Jack Leach and Dom Bess were more than handy in Sri Lanka where the opposition was not of the highest quality. A lot of the people believed that they wouldn’t be able to do anything special against India with their lack of experience. For the record, they claimed 11 out of the 20 Indian wickets. Bess picked up four in the first innings and Leach grabbed the same number of wickets in the second innings. They were impact performances which sent Virat back on day 3 and Pujara on the final day where he becomes a fulcrum of the Indian batting.
India have lost the first test and conceded the lead to England in the test series. England will have to win two more tests from here and not allow India to win more than one test while India will have to win the series to qualify for the finals of the world test championship.
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Stats courtesy : @cricvizanalyst/twitter