Here’s a quick look at some of the big factors that contributed to India’s big win in the second Test:
R Ashwin all round show – Ashwin has had to silence critics at various junctures in his career, but he has always managed to do that in style. The 34 year old was the biggest impact player in the second Test vs England in Chennai, without a doubt. With the ball, he was virtually unplayable on a pitch that had a lot to offer for the spinners. In England’s first innings he had figures of 5/43 in 23.1 overs, at an economy rate of just 1.80. He was in the game throughout this innings, removing top order batsmen Dom Sibley, Dan Lawrence and Ben Stokes, before coming back to polish off tailenders Olly Stone and Stuart Broad. In the visitors’ second innings he once again broke the back of the English batting, bagging 3/53.
R Ashwin. (Photo credit: ANI)
That Ashwin can bat in Test cricket is no secret, but for all those who doubted that, he served up a reminder in the Sydney Test vs Australia, batting with Hanuma Vihari, in very difficult circumstances and putting up a great defensive batting performance to help India draw the Test. In the second Test vs England in Chennai, Ashwin brought a different brand of Test match batting to the table. On a pitch that many were criticising for overt turn, Ashwin stood tall, scoring a brilliant century, after coming out to bat at number 8. His 106 off 148 balls, at an incredible strike rate of 71.62 helped India steady the ship after they were down to 106/6 and helped the hosts get to 286 and set England an impossible target of 482.
That winning feeling! 👌👌Smiles all round as #TeamIndia beat England in the second @Paytm #INDvENG Test at Chepauk… https://t.co/5RQEZ2jIUF
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1613459966000
R Ashwin. (ANI Photo)
Ashwin also went past the likes of Gary Sobers, Mushtaq Mohammad, Jacques Kallis and Shakib-Al-Hasan when he registered his individual third instance of scoring a century and taking 5 wickets in a Test match. Ian Botham leads the list with 5 instances. Ashwin was also adjudged Man of the Match for his century and 8 wickets in the match. He is also now just 6 wickets away from completing 400 Test wickets.
Axar Patel’s impressive Test debut – It was a spin win for Team India at the Chepauk this time and Axar Patel, who missed the first Test with a knee niggle made it a memorable Test debut for himself.
Axar Patel. (PTI Photo)
The 27-year-old took 2 wickets in England’s first innings and then took a five-for in the second (5/60). All 10 English wickets in England’s second innings fell to spin and Axar took 50% of that tally, dismissing Dom Sibley, nightwatchman Jack Leach, Joe Root, Ollie Pope and Olly Stone.
Rohit Sharma’s impact at the top – One of the biggest positives for India that came out of this match was opener Rohit Sharma finding form again. After a not very impressive outing in Australia, where his top score was 52 (129 runs in 4 innings) and scores of 6 and 12 in the first Test vs England in this series, Rohit put on an absolute batting masterclass at the top of the order. He dealt with both pace and spin with efficient ease on a difficult track, scoring a big 161, before falling to Jack Leach.
Rohit Sharma. (ANI Photo)
With Shubman Gill falling for a duck, Rohit’s big knock at the top played a big role in ensuring that India took full advantage of winning the toss and put on a good first innings score on the board.
Virat, Rahane, Pant inputs – With Rohit and Ashwin scoring centuries in the match it’s easy to forget the important inputs of Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant with the bat, at different points in time in the match. But they were all significant. Rahane’s 67 and Pant’s 58 in India’s first innings were scored at a time when the hosts needed partnerships. Rahane and Rohit Sharma came together when India were down to 86/3.
Virat Kohli. (PTI Photo)
It could have been very tricky for India if a wicket fell soon after this, but Rahane and Rohit took the team to 248/4, before Rohit fell for 161. Just one run later Rahane was dismissed by Moeen Ali for 67 as the scoreboard read 249/5. But that’s when Pant and Ashwin came together to take the hosts to 284, before Ashwin fell to Root.
Superb character and fighting spirit on display.🙌 Well done boys. The focus is now on the next one. 🇮🇳💪 https://t.co/TEVceiOhYM
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) 1613461520000
In India’s second innings Kohli scored 62 and shared a 96 run stand with Ashwin (106) that helped take the team’s total to 286 and set England a target of 482.
Toss and India batting performance in first innings- Just like in the first Test, the captain winning the toss didn’t think twice before opting to bat first. This time it was Kohli and on a pitch that began to offer turn very early, the home team put up 329 in the first innings. With the spinners coming into the picture very early this proved to be a very good first innings total, as England could respond with just 134.
England missed a trick by not playing another specialist spinner – Considering the soil used for the pitch in the second Test was different to that in the first Test and as a result the track began turning very quickly, England missed a trick by not playing off spinner Dom Bess. They instead chose to drop him and bring in Moeen Ali. Including Ali in the playing XI was a good move, but three spinners (Leach, Ali, Bess) instead of two would have helped England’s cause much more.
Image credit: ECB
With Ben Stokes already in the XI, they had a medium pacer option, but still chose to go in with both Stuart Broad and Olly Stone. A three specialist spinner approach would have possibly helped England put more pressure on India. Bess took 5 wickets in the first Test, which England won and was high on confidence. Between Stokes, Broad and Stone, England managed to take only 4 of the 20 Indian wickets that fell. The fact that Joe Root and Dan Lawrence came on to turn their arms over showed that a third specialist spinner is something England really missed.
England really missed James Anderson – Though this Chepauk track was a spinners’ paradise, England did miss the services of their all time leading Test wicket taker, James Anderson.
Image credit: PTI
Anderson, who took 5 wickets in the first Test. Anderson was rested for this game. Though for a fast bowler to make a big impact in this Test match was next to impossible, Anderson’s guile and his reverse swing skills could have perhaps made it a little more difficult for Indian batsmen and given England possible crucial breakthroughs at critical junctures in the match.
England top order had no impact – The English batsman, especially the top order had no answers to the questions posed by the Indian spinners. In their first innings (134 all out), their top 5 batsmen combined made 49 runs. Wicket-keeper batsman Ben Foakes who batted at number 7 was the top scorer in their first innings with 42. In their second innings, the top five batsmen combined made 87 runs. In this innings, Moeen Ali, who came out to bat at number 9 was the top scorer, with 43. Joe Root, who has been in phenomenal form could score a total of 39 runs (6 & 33).