Dan Lawrence was the first of seven English wickets to fall in little more than one session
|Second test, Chennai (day four)|
|India 329 (Rohit 161, Moeen 4-128) & 286 (Ashwin 106, Moeen 4-98)|
|England 134 (Ashwin 5-43) & 164 (Axar 5-60)|
|India won with 317 runs|
England succumbed to an inevitable loss to India with 317 runs on the fourth day of the second Test in Chennai.
Given the hopeless task of chasing 482 on a deteriorating field of play, England lost all 10 wickets to turn when they were left out for 164 to exit the four-test streak 1-1.
Only Captain Joe Root offered sustained resistance, but even he needed a lot of luck in his 33 before Moeen Ali accidentally hit his arm for 43 out of just 18 balls.
Left arm debutant Axar Patel won 5-60 while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin needed 3-53 – and match numbers of 8-96 – for a century in India’s second inning.
After two games in Chennai, the series moves to Ahmedabad. The third day-night test will begin on February 23.
Moeen will be missing out on these games after Root confirms he has chosen to go home as part of England’s rest and rotation policy.
India fight back leaves series ready
Halfway between two test heavyweights, this series lives up to its bill.
After England produced one of her best away appearances too win the first test with 227 runs, India dominated the second and used its know-how in dusty spinning conditions.
While the tourists won the litter in the first test, India did the same in the second. Even if that game is remembered for the pitch, it shouldn’t detract from the fact that the home team were vastly superior.
Rohit Sharma and Ashwin made more runs than the entire English team. Ashwin and Axar exerted more pressure than English spinners Jack Leach and Moeen, while Rishabh Pant scored as many moments of wicketkeeping brilliance as Ben Foakes.
The third floodlit test played with the pink ball will add a different dynamic, with pace bowling possibly playing a bigger role.
In the last two games, not only is the result of the series at stake, but also a place in the final of the World Test Championship. England, India or Australia can manage to hit New Zealand in June.
From 53-3 overnight, England’s only goal on the fourth day was to survive for as long as possible in a course that offered a big and unpredictable turn, as well as the occasional cumshot.
Trying to be proactive, Dan Lawrence ran toward Ashwin’s first nutmeg top ball. Pant completed a spectacular diving stump.
In contrast, Ben Stokes was nearly shotless and was tormented by Ashwin when he turned 51 balls into eight before offering a bat catch.
While Root survived and Mohammed Siraj presented an easy chance, Ollie Pope and Foakes were caught doing the conventional sweep.
There was nothing Root could do about a snort from Axar, who took the glove and was held to the gutter.
After the game was over, Moeen fired up five mighty sixes and had the chance of the fastest half-century in test cricket, only to be the last man stumped some distance from Kuldeep Yadav.
England went to regroup
This is the first blemish of a winter England won their previous three Tests. A total of six away wins in a row went back to December 2019.
While the Chennai defeat was reminiscent of their historic struggles in Asia, particularly the 4-0 win on their recent India tour, there are still reasons to be optimistic about Ahmedabad.
In the last Pink Ball test in India, albeit in Calcutta, none of the host’s crank took a wicket in defeating Bangladesh. This was the only occasion that occurred in a home win in India.
Seafarer-friendly conditions in Ahmedabad would be more suitable for England than the Chennai turnaround, with the James Anderson – who was rested this week – would likely return to the side.
England will also have Jonny Bairstow at their disposal after rested for the first two Tests, with Zak Crawley possibly fit even after a wrist injury. They would offer alternatives to Rory Burns or Lawrence.
Sam Curran and Mark Wood have re-entered the squad as well, while Jofra Archer may also be available after missing the second test with an elbow problem.
“India gave us an education” – what they said
England’s Captain Joe Root: “Credit has to go to India. They outperformed us in all three departments. We have some training.
“We have to learn. These are the conditions that you sometimes run into. We have to find a way to score points and take wickets under these conditions.
“We are 1-1 in the series with two important games. We are very much in this series. It is very well positioned.”
India’s Captain Virat Kohli: “It was a little weird in the first game at home without the crowd. This game made the crowd a huge difference.
“Our application with the racket was excellent. The conditions were challenging for both sides, but we put more effort into improving them. It was a perfect game for us.”
Player of the game Ravichandran Ashwin: “This wicket is very different from what we played in the first game. The balls that did too much didn’t really get the wickets.
“It’s not as easy as it looks to take wickets. It takes a certain amount of patience and wit to do it.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan on The Cricket Social: “England can’t just say these things are happening at such wickets because they will face India again in the next two tests on similar wickets. It’s about how they improve and learn.”