Turning the screws

Chennai, February 14

On a day of exhilarating action when 15 wickets fell, India took command of the second Test against England, with star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin taking his 29th five-wicket haul to ensure a huge lead for India on Day 2. At stumps, India were 54/1, for an overall lead of 249.

Resuming the day at 300/6, India lost their last four wickets for 29 runs, 25 of them coming from the bat of Rishabh Pant, who remained unbeaten on 58.

When England batted, Ashwin took 5/43 while Axar Patel chipped in with two wickets, including the vital one of Joe Root (6), and Ishant Sharma ended up with 2/22 as England were routed for 134 in 59.5 overs.

Not unplayable

Wickets fell in a heap today, but it was by no means an unplayable surface, as demonstrated by Rohit Sharma, with 161 on Day 1 and an unbeaten 25 on Day 2. In fact, the one England batsman who displayed tenacity and eschewed adventurism, Ben Foakes, could not be dislodged by India. He remained unbeaten on 42 off 107 balls, with four fours.

The other England batsmen, however, had no answers to the challenge posed by the Indian bowlers. The sweep shot, which proved so productive for them in the first Test, proved to be the downfall of three batsmen, including Joe Root.

Ishant provided the first breakthrough when he had left-handed opener Rory Burns LBW for a duck with a ball that nipped back. Burns’ partner Dom Sibley was the next to go, caught by Virat Kohli at leg-slip off Ashwin.

Big wicket

The big wicket of captain Root, who tormented the hosts in the first Test, was taken by debutant Patel after Root attempted to sweep against the turn and top-edged the ball, to be caught by Ashwin at short fine-leg.

India claimed four wickets in the second session to leave England gasping at 106/8 at tea. Ashwin got the prize wicket of Ben Stokes in the sixth over after lunch, when the left-hander missed an attempted clip off a ball that drifted in and spun past the outside edge of the bat to rattle his off-stump.

Ollie Pope (22) was brilliantly caught by a diving Rishabh Pant when he tried to glide one down the leg-side, to give Mohammed Siraj a wicket off the first ball he bowled in Tests in India.

Moeen Ali, coming in at No. 8, fell when he edged the ball to Pant’s thigh, and it then rebounded to Ajinkya Rahane, who dived forward to complete a fine catch. — TNS, Agencies

Spinning, seaming pitches must be judged with same benchmark: Ashwin

I do not know if they (England) have complaints in the first place. If there are, it is quite natural for people to be taken aback when they face adverse conditions. In all honesty, in the seven days of Test cricket we have played so far, England have competed really well.

From time to time there will be conditions which will challenge you whether it is spin or seam. The only comparison I can say is that if the ball is moving around at 140-150kph off the deck, that has to be more challenging than somebody bowling 85-90kph and the ball spinning. Clearly challenges are way greater when you come against seam. It’s just the same way when you play against spin. Take your time and cash in later, it’s just another form of art

I think it’s about being patient like when you play on a seaming wicket, you need to tide through the early phase and then start putting runs on the board. When it comes to spin, unfortunately people have other expectations. They want to drive and cut… On a seaming wicket you can’t do all that and I think the same kind of benchmark needs to be set on a challenging spinning wicket. R Ashwin

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