If day one of the first Test was poor for India, day two turned even poorer as England batsmen piled up misery on the tired Indian bowlers making them taste their own medicine. Ben Stokes and Joe Root put on a scintillating stand while Bumrah’s fitness was tested as much as Kohli could.
India tasting their own medicine
Prepare flat tracks, which have no lateral movement or much spin in the first three days, bat first, score big and outplay opponents has been India’s way of winning at home, a lot of times. But this Test things haven’t gone as per India’s plans. England won the toss and batted as ruthlessly as India does. Generally, a pitch like Chepauk is akin to a graveyard for bowlers. Even in Australia, flat pitches were there but they at least have some bounce. So spinners and pacers can get something out of it as it brings more modes of dismissals to play but not on these dead tracks.
England batted with a caution against the new ball, negating the first session with a lot of patience and grit on both the days. Today, it was challenging to bat early in the day but England didn’t give in. Just like India take the weaker links in the spin department of other teams to cleaners, so did England.
In the first 150 overs, 55 overs were bowled by inexperienced Nadeem and Sundar of whom, the Three Lions looted 223 runs. Interestingly, on the second day, we have seen invariable bounce. There have been deliveries from both Nadeem and Ashwin that have reared up after pitching which indicates how difficult batting last on this pitch can prove to be for India. It’s a ploy that India have used quite successfully but now they will be at the receiving end of it as undoubtedly the first two days were gold for batting, not so as we move ahead in the game.
Ben Stokes and the art of controlled aggression
It was expected that India would regroup after day one and come back stronger with a new batsman at the crease in form of Ben Stokes with a set Joe Root. And India started off brilliantly as well. Bumrah was hitting perfect line and lengths, always threatening Root’s pads while Ashwin was also able to beat Stokes’ outside edge on a few occasions and was getting a hint of turn and also variable bounce. As per CricViz, in the morning session, at one time, England’s false shot percentage was 12%, up from the 9% they registered yesterday.
But England didn’t arrive sans plans. Ben Stokes was the man who led a brilliant counter-attack to further dent India. He attacked his away out of challenges thrown at him. In the 95th over delivered by Ashwin, Stokes had announced that he won’t let the offie bully the left-hander, which he usually does gives how the offie matchup works against southpaws. He had launched Ashwin for a straight six when he flighted the ball after getting some purchase. After that the sweep was out, he hit boundaries against Ishant off back-to-back deliveries and all the pressure created evaporated in a few overs.
When it came to Nadeem-Sundar, Stokes blasted them like club bowlers. At one time, he was just dealing in slog-sweeps, reverse-sweeps, and also came down the track to hit a six. It was pure mayhem as he brought his fourth gear into play. His 124-run-partnership with Root ensured that India had nothing left in the tank by the time he got out and the visitors were easily posting in excess of 450.
Jasprit Bumrah’s inexplicable workload
In a few months time, there will be an IPL, a Test series in England, and also a T20 World Cup later in the year. And one name that’s going to be the most crucial is none other than Jasprit Bumrah. He’s a rare jewel for India, who is phenomenally good across formats and spearheads India’s bowling attack. Could India have done without Bumrah for this Test series? Surely, they have a plethora of bowlers who can fill in his place keeping in mind how much he matters this year with some significant assignments to come.
Even if he had to play, there was a need for him to be used more judiciously. He’s Jasprit Bumrah, not any tom dick and harries worth risking. And mind you, he had sent down 117.4 overs in three Tests in Australia, had played the ODI series and also the IPL before that. No wonder he was injured, hence ruled out of the Gabba Test.
He bowled 29 of the first 150 overs in the heat of Chennai. He will need to send down a lot of overs in the second innings as well. And if he plays two Tests at this graveyard-esque flat pitch where longer spells are needed, he might end up being injured with a major cause of concern for India in the upcoming months. Not to forget, only last year the pacer had returned after his first major long injury lay-off and it’s surely a time when India show more caution despite the temptation of his world-class abilities.