While the debate about the quality of the pitch at Cheapuk carries on in the background, India took complete control of the second Test against England on day two. As has been the case so often in the past, Ravichandran Ashwin was the star for India, picking up his second consecutive five-wicket haul as the hosts secured a huge first innings lead.
PANT HITS ANOTHER FIFTY
In India’s first innings, England did not concede a single extra and one of the key reasons behind that was some excellent wicketkeeping by Ben Foakes. And on day two, Foakes showed his class once again with a smart stumping to get the wicket of Axar Patel in the second over of the day. It was Moeen Ali with the wicket and the England off-spinner would strike again two deliveries later, with Ishant Sharma mistiming a sweep off a full toss.
Meanwhile, Rishabh Pant continued batting aggressively and reached his half-century off 65 deliveries. But he eventually ran out of partners as Olly Stone was introduced into the bowling attack and the England pacer, who has impressed in this Test thus far, took two wickets in his first over of the day.
India were bowled out for 329, the highest team total with zero extras in Test history. While they lost their last seven wickets for 81 runs, they would have been pleased with their overall batting performance on what is a tricky pitch.
ENGLAND’S BATSMEN STRUGGLE
On Saturday (13 February, 2021), India had lost their first wicket with no runs on the board and it was the same for England a day later. Ishant Sharma bowled a superb first over to start the innings, in which he got the wicket of Rory Burns. While Burns reviewed the leg-before-wicket (LBW) decision, the on-field call stayed as it was umpire’s call on hitting the stumps.
Ashwin, unsurprisingly, was given the new ball from the other end, and he also found success, getting the wicket of Dominic Sibley who was caught at leg-slip. The on-field umpire gave it not out, but Indian skipper Virat Kohli – who took the catch – reviewed it immediately and Sibley began walking as soon as that signal was made.
Then came the big moment of the morning session as Joe Root became Axar’s first Test wicket. Root, who has been in terrific form of late, was dismissed while attempting a sweep, a shot with which he has been prolific in recent times. As far as maiden Test wickets go, Axar couldn't have hoped for a better one.
When batsman sweep, most of the time it means they have no other option as scared to use feet. The odd innings it works, but not consistently over a long time. Playing spin u have to use the crease, your feet, plus punish the loose ball-that’s how you put pressure on the spinner https://t.co/6b6osYKxWx— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) February 14, 2021
Daniel Lawrence, meanwhile, was battling it out despite looking uncomfortable at times. After having done a lot of hard work, he would have been bitterly disappointed to have lost his wicket off the final delivery before lunch. It was Ashwin with the wicket and the dismissal came about after some mind games from the Indian bowler as he took his time to bowl that final delivery.
ASHWIN AND CO. EXCEL
Ben Stokes has often been the one to stand up when the England team have found themselves in moments of crisis, but he wasn't able to make a big contribution here. Ashwin, who was bowling splendidly, shattered the stumps when Stokes was batting on 18.
Ollie Pope and Foakes put a break on the fall of wickets for a while, putting on 35 for the sixth wicket. With the pitch assisting spin, Mohammed Siraj had to wait until the 39th over to get into the bowling attack and he made an instant impact, breaking the partnership with his first Test delivery in India. Pant, whose wicketkeeping has come under criticism, took a stunning catch while diving to his left to dismiss Pope.
Axar and Ashwin returned later in the post-lunch session to take the wickets of Moeen and Stone respectively to put India in complete control by tea.
While Foakes made a fighting 42*, the other England batsmen struggled to spend much time in the middle and the visitors were eventually bowled out for 134.
Ashwin played a huge role in India getting a 195-run first innings lead, taking his 29th five-wicket haul in Tests. He also became the first-ever bowler to take 200 Test wickets of left-handed batsmen when he dismissed Stuart Broad which wrapped up the innings. An over earlier, Jack Leach had to head back to the pavillion after Pant took an exceptional one-handed diving catch, his second of the innings, off the bowling of Ishant.
INDIA EXTEND LEAD AMIDST MORE UMPIRING CONTROVERSY
With a big lead in the bag, India's openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill put on a 42-run stand for the opening wicket, before the latter was out LBW for the second time in the game. Gill, after consulting Rohit, referred the decision but to no avail as India lost a review. It was Leach, who has bowled well in this match, with the wicket.
For the second successive day, we witnessed an umpiring controversy. There was an LBW review taken against Rohit by England, who clearly were of the opinion that the batsman hadn't played a shot, so the fact that the ball struck his front pad outside the off-stump shouldn't matter. But the on-field umpire surprisingly adjudged that Rohit had offered a shot and, much to the displeasure of the away team, the decision wasn't overturned.
At the end of day's play, India are 54/1 in their second innings with Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease. Going into day three, the hosts lead by 249 runs with nine wickets in hand.
(Image Courtesy – BCCI)