Monday Feb 08, 2021
England cricket team set a target of 420 runs after they were bowled out for 178 on Monday in the opening Test of the four match series against India in Chennai.
While chasing the huge total, India faced an early blow after losing its star batsman Rohit Sharma. The home side was 39 for one at stumps on day four, requiring another 381 runs to win the match.
India will likely take confidence from their recent experience in Australia where they successfully chased 328 to hand the hosts their first defeat at Brisbane's Gabba ground since 1988.
At Chennai's MA Chidambaram Stadium, Ravichandran Ashwin took six wickets to help see England off, before the hosts reached 39 for one at stumps.
Left-arm spinner Jack Leach bowled Sharma for 12 on a deteriorating pitch.
Shubman Gill, on 15, and Cheteshwar Pujara, on 12, were batting at the close with India needing another 381 runs to win the first of the four Tests.
On a dominant day for spinners, Ashwin claimed his 28th five-wicket haul in England's second innings that ended into the final hour of play.
Ashwin said he was expecting England to go big on runs in their second innings after deciding against making India follow-on.
"I think the approach was something we expected that they will put 430-440 on the board, so we were also trying to manage our overs accordingly," said Ashwin.
"I am not sure what went on inside their dressing room, but I'd like to think in Test match cricket the bowlers being tired and coming out to bowl another spell all these things get factored in (when not enforcing the follow on)."
Ashwin though said it was "bizarre" to see the SG balls -- used in Indian Tests -- tear through the seam as early as overs 35 and 40.
"It was bizarre, I haven't seen an SG ball like that in the last so many years but yes it could be due to the pitch and the hardness of it through the centre which is making the ball scuffed up," he said.
The off-spinner sent back Rory Burns with the first ball of the innings and struck crucial blows, including taking Ben Stokes for seven.
Skipper Joe Root top-scored with 40 off 32 deliveries. He hit 218 in the first innings of his 100th Test.
Root hit seven boundaries before being trapped lbw by paceman Jasprit Bumrah. Ollie Pope (28) and Dom Bess (25) also helped England build a big lead.
Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem took two wickets and got wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler stumped for 24. Dan Lawrence (18) was Ishant Sharma's 300th Test wicket.
"Quite a rollercoaster life so far," said the paceman, who is playing his 98th Test of an injury-hit career.
"A lot of experiences, I've learned a lot about how to bowl in the subcontinent, and what lengths to bowl when we go abroad."
He added, "if we get a good start tomorrow, I'm sure we can chase this down. We have a fearless batting line-up, and we're very positive about this".
England's deputy coach Jon Lewis said the team is confident of victory.
"We have played some really good cricket and we’re confident we can create enough chances to win the game tomorrow. We are in a really strong position," said Lewis.
"India have some very strong batters but I think we have enough in the tank to make sure that we win."
India were bowled out for 337 in their first innings in the morning session, 42 runs short of avoiding the follow on despite Washington Sundar's unbeaten 85.
Leach and paceman James Anderson took two wickets each in the morning session to pack off India after the hosts started the day 257-6.
Sundar, who made his debut in the fourth Test of India's historic win in Australia last month, put on 80 runs with overnight partner Ashwin, who made 31.
England scored 578 in their first innings