Chennai : Team India registered their fifth biggest win by 317 runs in the second test match of the test series against England.(in runs) The match was prolonged thanks to India’s second innings effort else it was a wrap inside three days.
After finally winning the toss and electing to bat first, India almost dug themselves a hole that they fell in when their batting effort was reduced to 86/3. They lost Shubman in the first over to Stone. And just what Rahane had said one day prior to the test match that the wicket would spin from the first day was evident in the dismissals of Pujara and Virat. The captain was out to a freak delivery by Moeen Ali which spun a long way from outside the off-stump to sneak through the bat and pad before dislodging the bails. So clearly, the ball was bouncing and turning in all directions. Rohit, apart from the other batsmen, looked like he was batting on a different surface altogether. While the others were getting beaten by vicious spin, he was succeeding in his method of sweeping deliveries to the boundary. when a bowler is swept off, he is forced to bowl a different length which results in inconsistency and loose balls delivered to the batsman.
Trivia : Rohit’s average of 87.82 at home after the first innings, is the third highest player/country average. The two averages above him are of Don Bradman in Australia (98.22) and Don Bradman in England. (102.84)
Ajinkya, on the other end took his time to settle down after which he looked ever so composed against spin. It is underrated how pleasing Rahane is to watch when he is on song and especially when he plays those cover drives against the pacers. Rohit went on to make a daddy hundred (161 off 231 balls, 18 fours, 2 sixes) and Rahane contributed 67 in their partnership of 162. There were other match-winners for India as the game progressed, but this effort from the duo bailed India out of trouble to push the total to a safe score of 329. Not to forget Rishabh’s explosive 58* batting with the tail later.
England had arrived to the second test match after a thumping win over the hosts. They should have been right up there when it came to body language and retaining those players in the second test who won them the previous test. When they came out to bat, one feels that they seemed to be batting with a lack of application and intent. Starting with Ishant’s first over where he bowled two outswingers to Burns and then the one that jagged back in to dismiss him for nought. Once Ashwin took over, the wickets fell continuously to close-in fielders. The debutant Axar scalped the big wicket of Joe Root when a top edge while playing the sweep reached the hands of short fine-leg. Ashwin eventually marked his 28th five-wicket haul to be the chief bowler in dismissing England for a paltry 134.
India’s second innings was all about the partnership between Ashwin and Virat. The team was in trouble again (not in the context of the match but the innings) at 106/6 but their 96-run partnership consolidated India’s position in the game even further. On a wicket that was deteriorating quickly, the two showed that a clear game plan and a solid defense will get you some runs. Both of them followed two contrasting approaches – Virat was cautious while Ashwin went all out with the sweep to score at a brisk pace. The former displayed a masterclass on how to bat against spin and admitted to learn from the mistakes that he had committed in previous innings. His knock (62 off 149 balls) had the subtle nuances that were required on a raging turner like this – changing the face of the bat at the moment of contact, fully committed on the front foot and back foot while not being stuck on the crease, playing with the spin vs the right-arm and left-arm bowlers and of course curbing his instincts to play the drive more often. He stood comfortable in his defense while the local boy Ashwin was on a roll at the other end.
After Virat’s dismissal, Ashwin showed a sense of urgency to score runs when he sighted his hundred. The final wicket partnership where Siraj played a crucial role in Ashwin reaching his hundred ( 106 off 148 deliveries) went up to 49 runs.
Trivia : Virat avoided playing the drive in the second inning since that shot was his mode of dismissal in the first innings, here’s a comparison of the runs he has scored while playing the drive in the second innings vs runs scored while playing the drive overall in tests in India :
Today – 8%
overall ( tests in India) – 27%
Chasing 482 with two days remaining in the test match was always going to be an uphill task for the English. The wicket was at it’s toughest stage to bat and it clearly showed. England lost three wickets overnight and the remaining wicket fell after the lunch break on the next day. Axar Patel, the player who was on a debut picked up a fifer and there’s a reason why he is a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja when it comes to the type of bowler that he is. Both of them are left-arm finger spinners, have the ability to bowl at one spot consistently, do not leak runs, possess the arm ball, are much quicker through the air and also have a round-arm action that aids the ball to bite the surface and jump after pitching.
We cannot go without talking about the amazing job that the two keepers have done in this test match and especially because the ball spun from day one and to all corners of the pitch. Rishabh Pant’s acrobatic efforts to grab one-handed catches and Ben Foakes’ technique against spin even impressed the great Adam Gilchrist to tweet about them. Foakes was easy on the eye, a treat to watch while Pant’s drastic improvement behind the stumps was clearly visible. It is often said that whenever a keeper goes unnoticed in a game he’s done a good job but here the two keepers’ amazing glove work had caught the eye.
India jumped to the number two spot and England dropped to the fourth spot in the world test championship table. Next up is the pink ball test at Ahmedabad. England will have Anderson back alongside Broad. It will be interesting to see who their third pacer would be with Wood, Archer and Stone, now in the reckoning. India will hopefully have Shami back in the squad but it remains to be seen if he plays the test match immediately or not. The series is all square at 1-1 and once again we have a cracker of a contest on our hands.
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