“It was the perfect game for us”, said India cricket captain Virat Kohli summing up the home team’s emphatic win over England on Day 4 of the second test. After receiving a monumental drubbing from the visitors at the same venue merely a week before this second test, India returned the favor with a 317-run victory. The victory also earned India 30 points, pushing them to second place in the World Test Championship standings, 18 points ahead of England who has now slipped to the fourth position.
Requiring a massive target of 482 runs with 2 days left on a deteriorating pitch, England was bundled out for 164, 30 more than what they managed in the first innings. The star of the show today was left-arm spinner Axar Patel who picked up a five-for including the key wicket of England’s captain and in-form batsman Joe Root. Home-boy and all-round wonder Ravichandran Ashwin too pitched in with 3 wickets during key moments of the game.
England started the day with 52 at the loss of 3 wickets with captain Joe Root and up-and-coming right-hander Dan Lawrence at the crease. India’s march to victory began when Dan Lawrence stepped out too early and missed Ashwin’s quick offbreak. Wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant had to go a long way to his left to collect the ball and then back to his right to effect the stumping.
Ben Stokes was the next man in but couldn’t make a sizable contribution, departing at 8 off 51 balls to a full ball that inside-edged onto the pads and went into the hands of a diving Virat Kohli at second slip. The bowler was once again Ravi Ashwin, continuing his heroics from the previous day.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel then joined the party with the wicket of Ollie Pope who, after making 12 off 26 balls, hit a full delivery on off-stump to Ishant Sharma at deep-midwicket. The English collapse around captain Joe Root continued with wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav sending Ben Foakes back to the pavilion after Foakes mishit a ball that was too full for the sweep-shot, giving Axar Patel a regulation catch and India were now 3 wickets away from victory. Lunch was taken soon after this wicket, leaving England at 116 at the loss of 7 wickets.
Joe Root’s vigil ended soon after lunch when Axar Patel got an edge off Root’s glove which was taken safely by Rohit Sharma at slip. Root played 133 balls for his 33 runs, another captain’s knock for the in-form English superstar.
The tail didn’t last long without their captain on the other end. Axar Patel trapped Olly Stone before the wicket giving the left-armer a 5-for on debut. Kuldeep Yadav dealt the final blow when Moeen Ali missed an attempted drive that was caught and stumped once again by the acrobatic Rishabh Pant.
The game was done and dusted before tea and the series was level at 1-all. With this 317-run win on a pitch that required application and patience from both batsman and bowlers, the Indians have reiterated their superiority on turning pitches. Local boy Ashwin may have missed out on a historic ten-for with a century but his all-round man-of-the-match winning performance will be remembered by fans for a very long time.
The English on the other hand has a lot to think about. Their top-scorer in both innings was lower-order allrounder, Moeen Ali. Their bowlers could’ve restricted India to a more par score with some tighter lines and lengths on day one. As Joe Root succinctly put it in the post-match interview, England lost the game on day one.
On a related note, BCCI confirmed on Twitter that talented opening batsman Shubman Gill was taken for a ‘precautionary scan’ after he was hit on the forearm in the final ball of the 18th over on day 3 when he attempted to evade a powerful sweep from Dan Lawrence.The third test of the four-match England India cricket series will be a day-night pink-ball test played at the renovated Sardar Patel Stadium which is now the world’s largest cricket stadium with a seating capacity of over 110,000. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions capacity is likely to be capped at 50% like what was seen in the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai for the second Test.