India bounce back with massive win in 2nd test match at Chennai!

Big test match win for Indian Cricket Team!

Of course the series and chances of getting into World Test Championship final are still hanging in balance. So, the job is not yet done, but incredible performance from India to bounce back after  to England defeat in first test.

Rohit Sharma gave India the head start with high-class and big hundred on first day. He played a Sehwag-like knock on difficult turning track. Rohit is kind of an impact player, the longer he stays at the crease the more damage is done to the opposition, because he played with intent and wasn’t afraid to play shots. He  scored very quickly; he brought out sweep shot and put English bowlers under pressure. 

Rohit was well supported by Ajinkya Rahane after India lost Pujara and Kohli quickly. Moeen Ali clean bowled Kohli for 0 with an absolute beauty. It was a dream delivery for an off-spinner. Once again Ajinkya Rahane showed how crucial he is for this Indian team, he came in when India had lost two quick wickets and he just calmed things down. He rotated strike well with Rohit and also played some crisp shots. Partnership between Rohit and Rahane was crucial in first innings as it put India in comfortable position on day one itself. Rishabh Pant also scored crucial fifty to take India over 300 while wickets were crumbling at other end. 

Indian bowling attack bowled England out cheaply in first innings with Ravichandran Ashwin leading with 5-wicket haul as he so often does. Debutant Axar Patel bowled really well too.

In second innings India batted a bit longer than expected and needed, but there was lot of time left in game, so nothing wrong with that. It was not just about setting the big target for England, but also about keeping England players on the field for long time and wearing them down mentally and physically.

While India’s second innings was crumbling captain Virat Kohli gave a master class of how to play on turning track and later was joined by Ashwin who went on to score a brilliant hundred at his home ground.  Partnership between Kohli and Ashwin was crucial in second innings as it clearly took game away from England.

Great all round performance from Ashwin (8 wickets and 100) and is now close to milestone of 400 test wickets. Only Sir Ian Botham has achieved this feat of taking five wicket haul and scoring hundred in same test more times than Ashwin. 

Sometimes we don’t recognize what is in front of our eyes and don’t give enough credit to it. Ravichandran Ashwin is an absolute legend in modern-day test cricket and one of my all-time favourite cricketers. 

He is intelligent, he has mastered his craft and more than anything else, he has big heart. Just a little bit of help from the wicket and he can run through the line-ups. Even on flat wicket in previous test, he bowled more than 70 overs and took 9 wickets, that shows his stamina and patience. More often than not, he takes the wickets of best or impactful batsmen in opposition team. He is currently on 394 wickets in 76 test matches and closing in fastly towards that elite 400 test wickets milestone. Along with his bowling master class, Ashwin also scored a hundred on very difficult wicket. The important thing is he has solid technique so he can defend and grind it out if needed like we saw in Australia and can also play shots and score quickly like we saw in this game against England. Hope he plays many more games, takes many more wickets and scores many more runs for India. 

In second inning Axar took 5 wickets and justified his selection and was well supported by Ashwin and Kuldeep who was under-bowled a bit, but that can happen to a third spinner when other two are already doing so well. I am happy for Kuldeep that he eventually got two wickets. Axar bowled well with great control and created chances regularly. Towards the end he was hit for 3 sixes by Moeen, but by that time game was already over. 

Most important thing was- Indians were brilliant in the field, except for one catch dropped by Siraj in the end, they held on to almost everything.
Rishabh Pant kept wickets really well and has certainly improved his glove work. He took two brilliant catches while keeping for fast bowlers and then contributed with two stumpings while keeping for spinners. Also throughout the game he was really comfortable and in control while keeping except for one sharp edge from Burn’s bat, that he did put down off Ashwin’s bowling. It is g
reat to see that he is performing well with both bat and gloves. That’s what happens when players are backed by captain and team management. 

England’s wicket keeper Ben Foakes also gave a wicket keeping master class; he was brilliant with his technique, almost let nothing past him.

Of course this wicket was friendly for spinners, but it is expected in India, no one says anything when they make seam and swing friendly grass-wickets in England.There was a lot of talk from former English captain Michael Vaughan about how this wicket was really terrible and unplayable, but Rohit, Ajinkya and Pant in first innings and Kohli-Ashwin in second innings showed that it’s not unplayable, if you apply yourself, give respect to bowlers early on and later start playing shots, you can score runs. Hope this wicket will not be judged as a bad one, because India being the host team might lose test championship points because of it.

There has been a lot of controversy with umpire’s call rule when it comes to impact in DRS’s LBW decisions, hope ICC does something about it, because it has been really frustrating for both batting and bowling sides on multiple occasions. Once decision is referred to third umpire, on field umpire’s call should not be considered or they should figure out a way to balance it. Because it is okay to use technology, but common sense should prevail in some situations, like in Joe Root’s case yesterday when you could clearly see that he was trapped in front and was plumb LBW.

Overall massive win for India and an important win from world test championship perspective. If they lost this test, it was over. Now they sit at the second place. Still can’t afford to lose remaining games or even draws.

Let’s hope Indian team wins remaining two games and gets into World test championship final comfortably, because they really deserve it, they had been leading the table since the start and they won away series in Australia and West Indies, also they have played so many games and have won lots of games. If Australia hadn’t cancelled their South Africa tour, New Zealand wouldn’t have automatically qualified for final, not that they don’t deserve to be in final.

– Onkar Karandikar 

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