India vs England | Ashwin’s wizardry has England staring down the barrel

Ravichandran Ashwin and Virat Kohli are seen on day 2 of the second Test against England in Chennai on February 14, 2021. Twitter/@bcci  

Russian Roulette it is. Which delivery has your name? It’s a cricketing version of life and death.

Dust emanating from the surface on day one was a pointer. The pitch showed its true colours on Sunday when 15 wickets fell.

True colours

The ball turned and jumped, the bounce was uneven and all this coupled with the dust — the top soil was loose — made batting hard. Actually, this Indian team can defeat top sides on sporting tracks. It doesn’t have to manufacture a win.

After bundling out England for 134 — R. Ashwin scalped five — and gaining a mammoth first innings lead of 195, India further consolidated. The host was 54 for one at stumps on the second day of the second Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

Shubman Gill fell to a Jack Leach slider. Rohit Sharma — he was let off on 24 when the normally reliable Ben Foakes missed a leg-side stumping off Jack Leach — was together with Cheteshwar Pujara (7 batting), he did not field after being struck on the hand on day one, at stumps.

When England began, Ishant Sharma flummoxed opener Rory Burns with a good length delivery that nipped back. And Dom Sibley’s attempted sweep off Ashwin saw the ball brushing the back of his bat.

England continued to lose wickets in heaps. Among them was key man Joe Root. Now, Root’s strength is his sweep. His strength can be his weakness, too. He swept debutant left-arm spinner Axar Patel against the turn and saw Ashwin hold the top-edge at short fine-leg.

Dan Lawrence battled hard, waited for the turn and played Ashwin off the backfoot. However, the experienced off-spinner got one to bounce from round the wicket to snare the Englishman.

Ashwin picked up the big scalp of Ben Stokes. Big Ben succumbed to Ashwin with the ball drifting across the left-handed Stokes to strike his off-stump.

Wickets continued to fall as Kohli shuffled his bowlers having a dash of pace to complement spin. And Mohammed Siraj grabbed his first Test wicket at home with Ollie Pope getting a tickle down the leg-side and ’keeper Rishabh Pant producing a fine diving catch.

Axar found the edge of Mooen Ali’s bat, and Ajinkya Rahane, in the close-in cordon, caught the ball off Pant’s pads. Then, Pant defied gravity to dive to his left to snaffle the catch after the tireless Ishant found Jack Leach’s edge.

Keeper-batsmen shine

Only wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes (42 not out) offered resistance. He used his feet, went forward or played back. There were no half measures. He pulled Ashwin and then skipped down to on-drive the experienced off-spinner, off-drove Kuldeep, and presented a broad blade.

In the morning, another wicketkeeper-batsman, the explosive Pant, delighted during his 58 not out. Riding on natural ability, he, almost casually, struck sixes on this track. He jumped down to Joe Root and smacked against the turn and danced down to Moeen and stroked inside out.

Wickets fell at the other end. ’Keeper Foakes, with his refined technique and stunning reflexes, was sharp standing up. His lightning stumping when Moeen floated one to Axar was top class.

The speedy Olly Stone, clocking around 150kmph, polished off the tail with a bouncer-fuller length routine to finish with three wickets. He has a future!


India 1st innings: Rohit Sharma c Moeen b Jack Leach 161; Shubman Gill lbw b Olly Stone 0; Cheteshwar Pujara c Stokes b Jack Leach 21; Virat Kohli b Moeen 0; Ajinkya Rahane b Moeen 67; Rishabh Pant not out 58; Ravichandran Ashwin c Ollie Pope b Root 13; Axar Patel st Foakes b Moeen 5; Ishant Sharma c Rory Burns b Moeen 0; Kuldeep Yadav c Foakes b Olly Stone 0; Mohammed Siraj c Foakes b Olly Stone 4.

Total: 329 all out in 95.5 overs

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-85, 3-86, 4-248, 5-249, 6-284, 7-301, 8-301, 9-325

England bowling: Stuart Broad 11-2-37-0, Olly Stone 15.5-5-47-3, Jack Leach 27-3-78-2, Ben Stokes 2-0-16-0, Moeen Ali 29-3-128-4, Joe Root 11-3-23-1.

England 1st innings: Rory Burns lbw b Ishant 0; Dominic Sibley c Kohli b Ashwin 16; Daniel Lawrence c Shubman Gill b Ashwin 9; Joe Root c Ashwin b Axar 6; Ben Stokes b Ashwin 18; Ollie Pope c Pant b M Siraj 22; Ben Foakes not out 42; Moeen Ali c Rahane b Patel 6; Olly Stone c Rohit b Ashwin 1; Jack Leach c Pant b Ishant 5; Stuart Broad b Ashwin 0. Extras: (B-4,LB-4, NB-1) 9

Total: (all out in 59.5 overs) 134

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-16, 3-23, 4-39, 5-52, 6-87, 7-105, 8-106, 9-131, 10-134.

India bowling: Ishant Sharma 5-1-22-2, Ravichandran Ashwin 23.5-4-43-5, Axar Patel 20-3-40-2, Kuldeep Yadav 6-1-16-0, Mohammed Siraj 5-4-5-1.

India 2nd innings: Rohit Sharma batting 25; Shubman Gill lbw b Jack Leach 14; Cheteshwar Pujara batting 7. Extras: (B-5, LB-3) 8

Total: (For one wicket in 18 overs) 54

Fall of Wickets: 1-42.

England bowling: Olly Stone 2-0-8-0, Jack Leach 9-2-19-1, Moeen Ali 7-2-19-0.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 12:52:41 PM |

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