In a match where significant criticism over the nature of pitch remained a hot topic for the first two days, India displayed an exhibition on how to thrive in challenging conditions. Virat Kohli’s men emerged on top as the side defeated England by 317 runs on Day 4 of the 2nd Test, leveling the four-match series 1-1.
It was a dominant display from start to finish by the home side, and local boy Ravichandran Ashwin remained central to it all in Chennai. The off-spinner took his 29th Test five-wicket haul in the first innings, then scored a century which steered the game away from England’s reach. In the second innings, Ashwin secured another 3 wickets to add to his already heightened status as a match-winner for the Indian Test team.
India scored 329 in the first innings after Virat Kohli opted to bat. The side did endure a poor start with the entirety of the top-order bar Rohit Sharma (161) failing to step up. The pitch helped in abundance to the spinners from ball one, and Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane (65) played with immense grit and patience to steer the Indian innings after the early setbacks.
Rishabh Pant, who cannot seem to put a foot wrong at the moment, played another important knock as he remained unbeaten on 85 to put India past 300.
England, in return, were bowled out on 134. Ravichandran Ashwin shined with 5/43 figures, while debutant Axar Patel played his part well for his two wickets – including that of captain Joe Root. Mohammed Siraj, who was playing his first Test on Indian soil, picked up a wicket on his very first delivery of the game. Ishant Sharma only bowled five overs yet took two wickets.
With a strong 195-run lead, India boasted of huge advantage and every added run seemed to take the game further away from England. On Day 3, India did face a collapse with the side losing five key wickets within 41 runs, but captain Kohli (62) and Ashwin (106) not only stabilized the Indian innings, but also put India in a dominant position with a steady 96-run stand.
Ashwin’s batting approach also invoked curiosity among the critics of the pitch conditions, as the 34-year-old batted with aggression despite the presence of one of the best batsmen in world cricket at the other end. He played with a strike-rate of 71.62, taking 148 balls for his 106.
Mohammed Siraj also played an able hand with his unbeaten 16, as the pacer helped to a 49-run stand for the final wicket.
England lost three wickets at the end of Day 3, and despite looking confident enough during the final overs of Day 3, Dan Lawrence fell to Ravichandran Ashwin for England’s first wicket on Day 4. The batsmen continued to fall as they failed to decode the Indian spinners on a challenging pitch.
Debutant Axar Patel took his first five-wicket haul in his maiden Test, while Ravichandran Ashwin also took three wickets in the second innings. Kuldeep Yadav, who made a comeback to the Indian Test team after more than two years, removed Ben Foakes for his only wicket. England were eventually bowled out on 164.