Ashwin, Bumrah make short work of Bazball as India level series against England | Cricket - Hindustan Times

2nd Test: Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah make short work of Bazball as India storm back to level series vs England

By, Visakhapatnam
Feb 05, 2024 05:24 PM IST

The duo shared six wickets in the visitors' second innings to orchestrate a 106-run victory on Day 4 in the second Test at Visakhapatnam

In the end, England died by the sword, having preferred to live by it. The most crucial blow came in one swoop — Shreyas Iyer dashed in from midwicket and effected a pick-and-throw direct hit that caught Ben Stokes napping with England still needing 179 to win. Defeat wasn’t a foregone conclusion with this team though. They continued to fight through a 55-run partnership between Ben Foakes and Tom Hartley before falling to the collective might of Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah who shared six England second-innings wickets to seal a 106-run win here on Monday.

India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the wicket of Ben Foakes(AP)
India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the wicket of Ben Foakes(AP)

Coming into this Test without Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, India needed their young and experienced to stand up and be counted to avoid losing two Tests in a row. And they did exactly that. Yashasvi Jaiswal scored a double hundred in the first innings, Shubman Gill scored a career-resuscitating hundred in the second but it’s Bumrah match haul of 9/91 that proved too much for England.

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“Very, very proud of such a young squad in terms of the Test matches that they've played,” said India captain Rohit Sharma after the win. “To come up against a team like that, (who) won the first Test match, and then to come out and play like that for us, (it's) very, very positive. When you win a game like that you have to look at the overall performance. We know that winning a Test match in these conditions is not going to be easy, the bowlers stepped up.”

With the series levelled 1-1, India can now use the long break to probably analyse where they could go harder at England. Not being able to consolidate on Jaiswal and Gill’s knocks to post big scores in both innings have raised flags within the team. “The wicket was really good to bat on,” said Sharma. “That's where, if I have to point out anything, a lot of the batters got the start, but didn't convert into a big score; (that's) something that we really need to look into.”

This was England's third defeat in 11 fourth innings chases since Brendon McCullum took charge of this team with Stokes as captain in the summer of 2022. "We had full belief in ourselves that we could chase that down,” Stokes said after the match. “The way we have gone about taking on challenges like that is what we are about. In moments like that, when you have scoreboard pressure, that is when we get the best out of ourselves as individuals. The way we applied ourselves and put India under pressure was great; unfortunately we didn't end up on the right side of the result.”

Even though the 106-run margin might seem big, India should take cognizance of England’s 292 already being the second highest fourth innings total by a visiting team. Partly responsible for that was India’s insipid fielding placements. Starting the day 332 runs in arrears, the onus was on England to negate Bumrah and Ashwin. But with the field spread out, England off to an easy start as India almost seemed to rely too much on the probability of England erring as they attacked.

When Axar Patel was spanked for consecutive boundaries in his second over of the day, the full, alarming implications of England’s mindset was becoming abundantly clear. More when Zak Crawley took two boundaries off Bumrah, the last one dazzled down the ground to make an emphatic statement. Rehan Ahmed entertained as long as he batted. But with Ollie Pope, the chase suddenly became more real. Pope raced to 23 off 21 balls before Ashwin forced him to play on the backfoot a ball that hadn’t bounced enough. He still played the cut, but got a thick edge and Sharma took a reflex catch at slip.

With Root nursing a finger injury, he too wasn’t going to hang around. Out came the reverse sweep off the first ball from Ashwin. Another reverse sweep left Ashwin stunned but he quickly shortened his length to induce a hoick that ended up in a leading edge and was caught comfortably by Patel at backward point.

With Crawley chipping away at the total, England were still in charge of the chase despite losing two big wickets. But Kuldeep Yadav picked the right time to make his presence felt. He bowled a top-spinner that Crawley failed to stab away. On being referred after umpire Marais Erasmus didn’t give out, replays showed the ball had not spun enough and would have hit leg stump, thus ending a vigilant 73 from 132 balls by the England opener.

That dismissal should have prompted England to go into repair mode, but they were clearly in no mood for half measures. Jonny Bairstow was repeatedly risking drives against Bumrah but on the stroke of lunch, he was hit on the back leg by a Bumrah delivery that shaped in late.

The first session had produced 127 runs in 28.4 overs but once Stokes and Foakes got together after lunch, the game slowed down. With the Barmy Army belting out Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’ to aptly sum up the scenario for the visiting fans, the pair cautiously took England past 200. But just when they could have started entertaining thoughts of shifting gears and making a charge for a seemingly impossible target, Foakes called Stokes for that fateful single.

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    Somshuvra Laha is a sports journalist with over 11 years' experience writing on cricket, football and other sports. He has covered the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 2016 ICC World Twenty20, cricket tours of South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh and the 2010 Commonwealth Games for Hindustan Times.

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