A crushing 227-run defeat in Chennai couldn’t dent Team India’s spirit as India skipper Virat Kohli insisted that they would learn from their mistakes and come back stronger like always in the remaining three Tests and hand England a tough fight.
The dusty pitch at the MA Chidambaram stadium was far from being a batsman’s paradise on Tuesday; it offered turn, uneven bounce and swing. The biggest blow came early in the morning in form of Cheteshwar Pujara, who fell to one such delivery that turned and bounced quite viciously to take the edge of his bat and fly to the first slip. Jack Leach (4-76) was just beginning to look ominous and had already smelt a rat as far as the turf’s assistance to the bowlers was concerned.
Our Knight and talented opener Shubman Gill, who was unbeaten yesterday, impressed yet again with his third half century. He took on Leach like a boss, occasionally charging down the track to clear the infields. However, soon after completing his 50, he fell to James Anderson’s reverse swing. Anderson was bowling the first over of his spell and all he needed was a slender gap between the bat and pad to sneak one in and take off Gill’s off stumps.
Soon after Gill’s departure, Anderson sounded death knell for India as he plucked Ajinkya Rahane (0) in the same over, leaving the hosts tottering at 92-4. Even though Skipper Kohli made a last-ditch attempt to keep the innings from falling apart with a gritty 72, he kept losing partners on the other side regularly.
First-innings heroes Rishabh Pant (11) and Washington Sundar (0) could do little to help the “Save the Match” cause as Anderson and Dom Bess removed the two respectively to crush India’s hopes of a comeback. By Lunch, India were reduced to 144-6 and even a miracle looked improbable.
Even though Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin (9) put up some resistance with an 80-run partnership, Leach came back to dismiss Ashwin with some sharp bounce and turn once again. The lone warrior Kohli was undone by Ben Stoke’s brutal inswinger that hit one of the roughest and dusty patches on the turf to keep low and sneak through his defence.
It didn’t take long for Leach and Jofra Archer to account for Shahbaz Nadeem and Jasprit Bumrah respectively and bring the curtains down on India’s innings for 192.
India will play their second Test against England from February 13th at the same venue but this time in presence of a crowd. Will the young Team India be able to emulate another Australia-like fightback this time?