Chennai: Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin blitzed past the visiting batting order, to India level the four-match series, on Day 4 of the second Test match, in Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium today.
The hosts levelled the four-match series 1-1, after losing the first Test match in the same venue. Chasing a target of 482 runs, England were bowled out for 164 in the second innings on a turning track.
The hosts began Day 4 on a strong note, taking quick wickets with the visiting batting order crumbling against Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel. All-rounder Moeen Ali was the top performer for England, scoring a T20-like knock (43 off 18 balls).
India’s bowling cruised past England, with Axar Patel registering his maiden five-haul in his debut Test match. Meanwhile, Ravichandran Ashwin took three wickets, and Kuldeep Yadav registered two dismissals.
Ashwin, who was adjudged Mam of the Match, said, “This wicket was very different to the one we played on in the first game. This was a red soil wicket, the first one was a clay wicket. As much as people were predicting things from the outside, I thought the balls that was doing much wasn’t getting wickets. It was the mind of the batsmen that got us wickets. I have been playing for years over here now and it takes pace and guile to do it. Keeping intent was very important. It is very important to put the pressure on the bowlers because if you allow them to dictate terms, it is going to get easier. I just wanted to take it upon myself, and after I connected the first ball, I knew I got a hang of this wicket. I am someone who tries hard, and when things don’t go my way, I try harder.”
“Vikram Rathore has been very supportive. My batting was more about hands, to think tactically instead of technically. Ajinkya played a crucial role in telling me that I was overthinking it. That innings in Sydney really set the tone for me. I am enjoying my game and am really happy it happened in Chennai. Every load up gives a different result in terms of which way the pitch is behaving. I try and load up differently, use the breeze, use different angles to release the ball, speed of the run-up. This is working because I have created this awareness for myself. I have been playing it for the last 25 years. I really had to express myself. As an eight year old I have come here on these very stands to watch cricket. I have played four Test matches here and easily this is the most special. I get a hero’s feeling here playing cricket in Covid teams, and this knowledgable crowd came out in big numbers. They were 1-0 without the crowd, and we made it 1-1 with them. Hopefully we can take it forward,” he said.
An elated Kohli, said, “It was a bit strange in the first game to be playing at home with empty stands. We were pretty flat on the first two days over there to be pretty honest, myself included, didn’t pick up energy on the field. But from the second innings onwards in the first game, we picked up and were on the money in terms of our body language. The crowds make a big difference, this game was an example of the grit and determination this side shows and the crowd is a big part of that. Chennai crowd are very intelligent, they understand their cricket really well. In a 15-20 minute period where the bowler needs the support of the crowd, it is my responsibility to involve everyone and bring in the crowd. If I am running in to bowl in this heat, I need people to motivate me. It is a perfect game for us. The conditions were challenging for both sides, but we showed more application with the bat. We didn’t panic out there looking at the turn and bounce, we showed grit, got into the game and scored 600 runs in the game”.
“We know our bowlers would do the job for us if we put up these runs. The toss wouldn’t have mattered much in this game to be honest, because if you looked at our second innings, we got 300 as well. It wasn’t unfair if the toss went either way. Both teams should be in the game from the first session onwards, whether it is on spinning to seaming tracks, and that exactly was the case in this game. Rishabh Pant has really worked hard in Australia, when he moves with the gloves you can see the difference in his reactions. He has shed a lot of weight and has worked hard on himself. It is showing, the way he kept with so much turn and bounce, credit to him. We want him to keep improving as a keeper because we know the valiue he brings to the team. It is a very, very special moment for Axar. He would’ve played the first game as well if he didn’t have that niggle. He was keen to step on, and if you get that kind of pitch, he was all smiles and couldn’t wait to get the ball in his hands. Hope he builds on from here, he has an important couple of games ahead. I take a lot of pride in improving myself and correcting my mistakes quickly. If I make an error, I make sure I iron it out in the next innings. Ashwin batted outstandingly well and that partnership between us was very crucial. I knew I coud trust my defence and easily bat four sessions on this pitch. Ahmedabad is going to be challenging. This England side has quality players and we need to be on our ‘A’ game throughout,” he said.
Biggest Test wins for India (by runs)
337 vs SA Delhi 2015/16
321 vs NZ Indore 2016/17
320 vs Aus Mohali 2008/09
318 vs WI North Sound 2019
317 vs Eng Chennai 2020/21
304 vs SL Galle 2017