Brief Scores: Brief scores: England 578 (Joe Root 218; Jasprit Bumrah 3-94) & 178 (Joe Root 40; R Ashwin 6-61) beat India 337 (Rishabh Pant 91; Dom Bess 4-76) & 192 (Virat Kohli 72; Jack Leach 4-76) by 227 runs
The Indian cricket fans, who have witnessed two out-of-the-skin batting performances in the last one month on Day 5 of a Test match by the team, would have hoped for an encore in Chennai, but it was not to be as the Virat Kohli-led side succumbed to hand England a 1-0 series lead. James Anderson was the wrecker-in-chief as he inspired England to a huge win by 227 runs – their sixth successive victory in Asia. The 38-year old used reverse swing to great effect as he hunted the Indians down in the first session to hand his team a memorable win.
We look at the major talking points from Day 5 of the game:
James Anderson still has the spark
James Anderson, the most successful Test bowler from England, has often been fallen short of Dale Steyn when it comes to comparisons between the greatest bowlers of the current era. Anderson has often been criticised for being successful and lethal only in cloudy conditions that aid swing bowling. Anderson first toured Asia in 2003 and then in 2006, but his struggles were evident in 2007-08, when he averaged 68.50 in the Test series against India. The fast bowler toured Asia in 2012 and 2015 as well, averaging 26.93 and 15.61, respectively, but was unable to create a stir on his next two trips, averaging 53.50 and 105 in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
However, the legend displayed that he does not necessarily need helpful conditions to succeed, with some jaw-dropping bowling with the old ball on Day 5. On a track that had nothing in it for the faster bowlers, Anderson first got the wicket of Shubman Gill with a ripper as the length ball pitched around off-stump only to nip back in at the last moment. He got Ajinkya Rahane in similar fashion three balls later, once again sending the off-stump cartwheeling. The ball curled in from a fullish length, only to move in towards Rahane. He got Rishabh Pant soon after as well with a moving ball that angled in to prove that his genius is not only limited for tracks with pace and swing.
Ajinkya Rahane remains consistently inconsistent
The vice-captain of the Indian cricket team has often been in the firing line for his inconsistencies and his inability to get going, especially at home. In 70 games, Rahane averages 41.79 overall, which falls to 37.35 at home. His average in India is the sixth worst among Indian batters with a minimum of 2000 balls faced, with Anil Kumble, Nayan Mongia, Ravichandran Ashwin, Syed Kirmani and Kapil Dev ahead of him in the infamous list.
Though Rahane has 12 hundreds to his name, what remains the biggest worry is the long gaps between a big knock. Since 2017, he has hit just four hundreds and 13 fifties in 64 innings, but what is more worrying is that he has a score of 25 or less on 32 occasions in the interim- which is a whopping 50% of his innings! The batsman scored a fine 112 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the recent tour of Australia – his first since October 2019 – but has followed it up with scores of 27*, 22, 4, 37, 24, 1 and 0. His inconsistency and his ability to make the best of his form is a major issue that Team India need to look at.
A tale of contrasts for the two skippers
The English cricket team embarked on their Asia tour with a Test series against Sri Lanka earlier in January. The visiting team were clinical in both games that they played, winning by 7 wickets and 6 wickets respectively. The Joe Root-led side scored more than 340 in their first innings of both the first and the second Test, and did not let the toss hamper their progress.
The England team had earlier decimated the Lankans 3-0 in 2018, and the victory against India took their winning streak to 6 in Asia. It was also Root’s 10th overseas win, and 26th overall in 47 matches, which gives him a win & of 55.3 – the most among England skippers.
Virat Kohli, on the other hand, has seen his team collapse to four straight losses under him, starting with the Test series against New Zealand last year that the team lost 0-2. Never before has the Indian team lost four successive Test matches when Kohli was at the helm.
Shubman Gill is a treat to watch
Virat Kohli described Shubman Gill as the best Indian batsman in the 1st Test against England, which is high praise for the 21-year old who made his Test debut in Australia. The young gun has impressed one and all with his temperament and the ease with which he faces the faster bowlers. Gill was on fire on Day 5, switching between the back foot and the front foot with ease, and never shied away from playing his shots. He drove flighted deliveries, came down the track against shorter balls, flicked the overpitched deliveries and got his second fifty in the fourth innings of a Test match.
In eight innings in his Test career thus far, Gill has knocks of 45, 35*, 50, 31, 7, 91, 29 and 50, giving him a Test average of over 48, and it was not surprising that he was handpicked by Kohli for effusive praise.