England’s miraculous win against India in the opening match gave fans glimmers of hope that Joe Root’s men might be able to achieve something spectacular in this series. This dream was dramatically shattered, however, after 35 overs on the fourth day of play in the second test.
It is arguable that England lost the match when India won the toss on the very first morning. The first test showed us the damage that the Chennai wicket could do to a final innings, and this impact became increasingly more destructive. As soon as India had chosen to bat first, it almost seemed inevitable that doom for English fans would follow. The first day was full of excitement with 9,000 fans being allowed to enter three stands in Chennai. Despite the presence of a few members of the Barmy Army, the passion and noise of the Indian fans certainly fuelled India’s desire to triumph.
A formidable partnership between Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane put India in an exceptionally strong first inning’s position, despite controversial antics from Virat Kohli and the umpires. Kohli walked out to the middle with nearly 9,000 Indian fans cheering and roaring for their hero, only for Ali to bowl him for a duck five balls later. An obstinate and belligerent Kohli remained unmoved until the umpires were forced to replay his dismissal, and he begrudgingly walked back to the dressing room. The next calamity came when Foakes was convinced he had stumped Sharma. The third umpire suggested that some part of Sharma’s foot was behind the line despite the footage showing little evidence for this decision.
England may have got over this setback slightly sooner if there had not been another glaring mistake involving DRS with Rahane. England were convinced he had been caught as Jack Leach’s delivery brushed his glove before being caught by Ollie Pope. No finger went up and the review conveniently missed the part where the ball touched Rahane’s glove, merely showing the ball bouncing off the pad. Despite England’s pleas to reshow the full footage, the umpires seemingly chose to ignore this clear error. Root and his fellow players will have taken some satisfaction with Ali bowling Rahane six balls later, but the harm had been done.
Sharma’s century, Rahane’s 67, and another useful half century from Pant, India totalled 329 in their first innings.
England’s woes continued in their first innings with Foakes top scoring with 42 not out, dragging England to 134 all out. Despite four wickets each for Leach and Ali and superb wicket-keeping from Foakes, India made their way to 286 in their second innings, thanks to a century from Ravichandran Ashwin and 62 from Kohli.
Attempting to chase a score of 481, the wicket on the fourth day was unforgiving to England, and the Indian spinners were able to weave their magic almost every delivery.
More DRS contentions arose when India reviewed a catch off Root. The review showed that the ball hit Root’s pad and, although ball-tracking showed that the ball would have hit the stumps, the contact with Root’s pad appeared too close to call and the decision remained ‘Umpire’s call’: Root survived.
In contrast to Root’s calm and collected acceptance of the Umpire’s apparent mistakes two days before, Kohli took the opportunity to argue with the Umpire and may now face action from the ICC’s match referee if he is believed to have shown dissent. Although England crashed to a 317-run defeat, the disputable umpiring decisions and the quality of the pitch undoubtedly impacted the team’s mentality, England must remain defiant in defeat in order to strive for success in the day-night test in Ahmedabad on 24th February.
Image: Wikimedia via Creative Commons. The image shows Virat Kohli wearing an India training top.