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IND vs ENG, 1st Test Day 2: Root, Stokes take England over 550

Brief Scores: Brief scores: England 555/8 (Joe Root 218, Dominic Sibley 87, Ben Stokes 82; Ishant Sharma 2-52) vs India.

Skipper Joe Root led proceedings with a fine 218 on Day 2 of the first Test between India and England to ensure that his team has the advantage at Chepauk, Chennai. After the end of the first day’s play, Root had admitted that the touring side were looking to score around 600 runs in the first innings of the game, and England look well on course after a determined batting display on a track that had nothing on offer for the bowlers. By stumps on Day 2, the English team had amassed 555 for the loss of 8 wickets in 180 overs – the most that the Indians have bowled in a single innings at home since 2012. 

We look at the major talking points from Day 2 of the game: 

Ben Stokes and his counter attacking batting 

Though the Indians did not have the best day on the field on Day 1 – they managed to pick up just three wickets – the fact that they had a new batsman to bowl to on Day 2 would have given them hope. Ben Stokes, who came in to bat at number 5, saw off a fine spell by Jasprit Bumrah upfront and then continued to attack the spinners as the innings progressed. Bumrah hit the perfect line and lengths in the first hour of play while Ravichandran Ashwin beat Stokes’ outside edge on a number of times. England’s false shot percentage was 12% in the morning session, according to Cricviz, up from the 9% that they managed on the first session on Day 1. 

However, that did not deter the side, as Stokes, in particular, broke the rhythm of the Indian bowlers with a brilliant counter attacking knock. Though Ashwin had dismissed Stokes on seven occasions in the past, the all-rounder was not afraid to launch one for a straight six after the off-spinner flighted the ball, in the 95th over. He then proceeded to sweep Ishant Sharma for successive fours to make his intentions clear. 

Though Shahbaz Nadeem troubled Stokes, Washington Sundar at the other end ensured that the pressure was relieved as he sent down loose deliveries that Stokes slow-swept or reverse swept. He piled on a 124-run stand with Root in 220 balls and was dismissed on 82 off 118 by Nadeem. It was his 14th dismissal against a left arm orthodox spin bowler in his career. 

The workload on Bumrah remains a worry 

Jasprit Bumrah sent down 31 overs in the hot and humid conditions of Chennai, which forced critics and fans alike to question the workload that has been bestowed on India’s premier fast bowler of late. On a track that had flattened out considerably in the second session, the sight of Bumrah sending down over after over puzzled fans and critics alike, who would have instead preferred a part-timer like Virat Kohli to bowl when there was not much purchase. On a highway-esque pitch, asking a fast bowler who is returning from injury to bowl with nothing in return was risky, considering Bumrah’s heavy workload in the past few months and the assignments up ahead. 

The Gujarat bowler had sent down 117.4 overs in three Tests in Australia, 29.3 overs in the ODIs and a total of 60 overs in the Indian Premier League prior to that. The fact that he has been in a bio-bubble since the first week of August (he did have a four-day break before the Tests against England) makes us question BCCI’s workload management. The fact that Mohammed Siraj is not a bad choice as replacement, further leaves us baffled. 

The saga of dropped catches continue 

Though Team India managed to win the Test series against Australia, what made bigger news was their sloppiness on the field and their inability to latch on to regulation catches of players, who then made the most of their chances. During the Test series, the Indians floored as many as 15 catches, which took the total tally to 35 drops on the entire Australian tour (seven in the ODIs, followed by 12 in the three T20 Internationals). 

The Indians further spilled three catches on Day 2 against England (they had dropped one on Day 1 as well). Stokes was let go off twice, by Ashwin and Pujara, before Rohit Sharma dropped a dolly and gave Dom Bess another lifeline in the 175th over, with Washington Sundar being the bowler. 

The increase in no balls per game after third umpire’s intervention 

Ever since the ICC introduced the concept of TV umpire’s calling a front foot no-ball after watching replays, the average number of no balls in a Test match has drastically shot up. From January 2016 to August 3, 2020, a total of 974 No Balls were called in 178 Test matches, which meant an average of 5.5 No Balls per game. 

However, ever since the ICC implemented the arrangement of third umpires calling a No Ball in international cricket since August 4, 2020, the total number of No Balls in a game have almost doubled. From August 4, 2020 till the end of Day 2’s play between India and England, as many as 240 No Balls have been called in just 19 games, which leaves us with an average of 12.6 No Balls per Test match. 

The Indians have sent down as many as 19 No balls thus far in this game, which makes us wonder how many extra runs were missed before the implementation of the new law by the ICC.

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