England couldn’t prevent the inevitable as a successful fifth day morning session where Mohammed Shami and the spinners shared five wickets helped India seal an emphatic 246-run win in the second Test and take a 1-0 series lead on Monday. (SCORECARD)
Going into the fifth day, England needed a few more thwarting partnerships like the one Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed had mounted on Sunday, but apart from Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow to an extent, they neither showed the quality nor temperament to bat out three sessions. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Having lost five wickets in 33.4 overs in the morning, England folded 20 minutes after lunch. With eight scalps in the second innings, India’s spinners accounted for 15 of the 20 England wickets to fall in this Test.
Alastair Cook’s last-ball dismissal on Sunday had a telling effect on England’s plans to deny India victory. It meant a new batsman had to join Root, but given that four-Test old Ben Duckett was the next man in, it couldn’t have given the visitors much confidence. They were aware he didn’t have the technique to survive for long defending, and Duckett was the first to go when he went for an audacious sweep off R Ashwin. The ball went off the glove and thigh pad to give Wriddhiman Saha an easy catch.
Even with Root scratching around desperately, the odds of saving the Test were stacked heavily against England. Cook later said they were inspired by South Africa batting 143 overs to almost avoid defeat in the Delhi Test. But like then, India bowlers eventually broke through. There was variable bounce but not much turn off the Vizag pitch, but India were relentless. Root was dropped by Kohli at leg slip early in the day but he couldn’t handle a late inswinging delivery from Shami that caught him stuck to the crease.
This was after both Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes, centurions in the previous Test, fell to spin. So pressing were India that Kohli continued with Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja when the new ball was taken in the 81st over. Jadeja had already dismissed Ali by then. He couldn’t handle a delivery that bounced to take an inside edge and carry to Kohli at backward short-leg. Jayant Yadav then made an entry with a quicker delivery that spun sharply to clatter into Ben Stokes’ stumps. The dismissal of Root, the sixth batsman to fall, signalled the end of England’s resistance before Shami, Ashwin and Yadav shared the last four wickets.
England would rue two passages of play where they lost five wickets cheaply on the second and fifth days. They produced two contrasting partnerships in both innings but lost out in the context of showing intent to win or at least bat positively and keep the pressure on India in the fourth innings. The pitch was expected to be a rank turner but it played out fairly even barring the odd deliveries that kept low or bounced awkwardly. The spinners exploited that. Coming wider from the crease, Shami was also creating opportunities with the second new ball in his third spell.
But the importance of a good first innings score wasn’t lost out on both captains. England imposed themselves with the bat in Rajkot and made India toil. India batted well in Visakhapatnam and made England pay. The only two things that changed between the Tests were the nature of the pitch and the winner of the toss.