INDIA-ENG 2ND TEST REVIEW

INDIA Vs ENG 2nd Test (2021) REVIEW

England’s Jack Leach is congratulated after taking a wicket, but was denied more.

England’s Jack Leach is congratulated after taking a wicket, but was denied more. Photograph: BCCI

India romped home  with an emphatic 317 runs in the second test  in a little over a session on the fourth day at Chepauk, and the debutant  Axar Patel collecting a rich  five-wicket haul as England went down and the 4 match series interestingly poised with one all.  The reflections of the test are recounted here.

All the roads lead to Chepauk stadium.  The cheering Chennai fans gathered in good numbers albeit COVID restrictions.

After winning the toss India elected to bat on a pitch expected to take spin early on.  And it was an early exit for the promising opener Gill who was done in by the new ball bowler Oliy Stone, who came in place of Jofra Archer and a dodged  Pujara edging a delivery from Jack Leach and first ball duck for the Captain Kohli, it was left to the Opener Rohit and phlegmatic Rahane to repair the damage.  And their 4th wicket partnership yielded 162 runs, which set the tone for a formidable 300 + score in a wearing pitch.  Rohit’s dominating innings was the cornerstone of a big score as he hit a magnificent 161 runs taking on the spinners with lusty hits all round the ground which was witnessed by the crowd of around 15000 in the stadium after a gap of a year in India.  And Rahane also scored briskly with a fine half century.  And of course the day was mired with some controversial third umpire decisions.   

  Jack Leach compared two contentious decisions by the third umpire to the furore over football’s VAR after feeling “a little bit angry” at being denied a third wicket on day one of the second Test in Chennai.

Some typically sharp glovework from Ben Foakes during the final session appeared to have India’s Rohit Sharma stumped off Leach on 159. But the third umpire, Anil Chaudhary, who was slightly hampered by just a couple of available replays, swiftly ruled it not out.

While that call was not entirely clear-cut, there was little doubt an error took place four overs later when England reviewed a catch to short-leg off Ajinkya Rahane on 66 – one that had hit the pad and then went on to tickle the glove – only to have it struck down.

Chaudhary, acting as the third umpire for the first time in Tests, had been looking for an initial inside edge but did not check for any contact afterwards. Even when England protested on the field, the officials went back to check for lbw and did not review footage of the missed contact.

Sharma and Rahane were removed soon after their respective reprieves and England had their lost review reinstated by the match referee, Javagal Srinath, to end the day with two, but Leach felt slightly aggrieved at only accounting for one of the two batsmen and finishing with figures of two for 78.

And India ended the day with a commanding 300/6 after an entertaining knock of the India’s poster boy Pant kept the crowd entertaining.  Of course the Day One belonged to the centurion  “Hitman”  Rohit who lit up the spirit of the starving spectators who were cheering all the way. 

With 300 runs on the board, India couldn’t make much way as the England’s veteran off spinner Moeen Ali cleared the tails with 4 wickets and Stone with 3 wickets ended the indian first innings.

And it was the turn of the Indian spinners to exploit the vulnerable English Batsmen and they did it with consummate ease.  The spin attack was spearheaded by the local boy Ashwin. Ashwin was ecstatic. His 29th Test five-for – back-to-back five-wicket hauls in Chennai put India 249 runs in front at the end of day two of the second Test against England at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday. India was 54 for 1 in the third innings at stumps with Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease. As many as 15 wickets fell on Sunday. This was the sort of pitch where deliveries bounced calf-high after one gripped and kicked. No matter how well you batted, no matter how long you had been at the crease, you couldn’t prepare yourself for what was next – as Ben Stokes found out. Five overs after the lunch break, Ashwin drifted one in to clean-bowl the high profile all-rounder and become No. 2 on the list for most Test wickets in India next only to Harbhajan Ashwin had bowled unchanged from the start of England’s first innings and his first spell read 16-3-33-3. Meanwhile, as England’s batting imploded, Virat Kohli egged the crowd on like an animated conductor rousing his orchestra to a crescendo. 

The third day again belonged to the local hero Ashwin this time with the bat. He drove, cut, sweeped, pulled much to the chagrin of the England bowlers.  The crowd were cheering him for his every shot.  The pundits of the game say cuts, drives, sweepshots were the fruit of hundreds of hours spent on conditioning your brain and strengthening of muscles in an environment designed for practice. That’s what Ashwin practiced.  In fact in his TV interview he credited Indian batting coach Vikram Rathour of the change in his approach towards batting.

England tried everything including Stuart Broad bowling his leg cutters at 130 kmph with Foakes standing up to the stumps. However, Ashwin remained unfazed. He had good fortune too, having been dropped twice on 28 and 56 and surviving a stumping chance on 70. Ashwin’s best shot of the day came off the last ball of the 71st over when Broad bowled a length ball and Ashwin stood tall to hit it straight past mid-on with the full face of the blade.

The morning belonged to Ashwin and Rishabh Pant. After taking two  catches of one handed blinders in the first innings, Pant pouched a  Ashwin delivery  that nutmegged  an advancing Dan Lawrence, ( Ronaldo would have been proud of this nutmegged) before whipping the bails off.

Ashwin then shifted his focus to Ben Stokes, bowling 35 dots to him before inducing a thick inside edge that went to Virat Kohli at slip. Stokes fell for an uncharacteristic 8 off 51 balls. This was also the 10th time Ashwin had got the better of the talismanic English all-rounder in Tests.

And when Ben Foakes swept Kuldeep Yadav straight to the man at midwicket, just two minutes before lunch, the chinaman left-armer had his first wicket since the SCG Test in 2019. This was after Mohammed Siraj had dropped Joe Root off Kuldeep’s bowling.

Axar Patel then dismissed the England captain Root enticing him for with a flighted delivery and Olly Stone after lunch to carry with him a defining 5 wicket haul on his debut. Moeen Ali with his lusty hitting delayed the inevitable before he tried another heave only to miss and Pant doing the rest. The visitors folded for 164 in the second innings. India sauntered home with a very big margin of 317 runs.

And Ashwin deservedly won the MOM award for his all round performance.  In fact this was the first time at Chepauk that a local cricketer got a MOM award.

WEEKLY ROUND UP

And at Mirpur, Dhaka West Indies in the 2nd Test  created history with 2-0 win (blackwashed) over Bangladesh with an under-strength team led by Kraigg Braithwaite toppled them in their own backyard with a nail biting 17 runs win.  The burly West Indies off spinner Rahkeem Cornwall with a match figure of 9 wickets was the MOM .  West Indies last week in the first test  made a sensational win over the Bangla Tigers after a scintillating  double hundred  at Chattogram by the debutant Kyle Mayers.

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