If day two was bad, day three was a ruckus, but was it really? Jack Leach took control of the proceedings early on in the day, with three wickets on the third day where the ball was turning. But a century from Ravichandran Ashwin and his partnership with Kohli sealed the fate of the pitch.
Jack Leach’s incredible second-innings Test record
If Jack Leach offers you mercy in the second innings, you take it because there aren't a lot of opportunities that he is going to give you, with his impeccable record. In the second innings, the left-arm spinner has picked up 39 of his Test wickets, coming at an average of 19.15, in comparison to 54.87 he averages during the first innings. While yesterday was a little teaser of things to come, the grand picture today was pretty entertaining, even as a neutral watching the match. That’s what a spinner does when he gets the backing off a skipper, even after suffering one of his worst days with the ball in the first innings of the first Test.
He pushed aside all talks of the pitch by the English fans, getting acclimatised to the condition, quicker than his spin partner Moeen Ali, who was still bowling fuller length deliveries. On day three, the spinners, headed by Leach, induced 26% of false shots from the home batsman. His dismissal to send back Rohit Sharma was a work of art, with the ball spinning just enough to beat the on-rushing right-hander to seal his fate. If that was something, his delivery to dismiss Rishabh Pant, came off the right patch in Chennai to turn a long way from Pant’s inside edge. Time and again, with or without assistance from the other bowlers, Jack Leach is putting out performances of his own, in India.
Ravichandran Ashwin walks the talk
A half-century from Ashwin on such a wicket? Impossible! A century? Stop dreaming!
When Ravichandran Ashwin walked into the Indian team, he wasn’t hailed as a generational talent but quickly in the next decade, has been hailed as one. But during his debut year, Ashwin not just made his efforts with the ball but also with the bat, which was one of the reasons behind India’s home dominance. Every time he picked up wickets, he was equally good and adept with the bat. On his debut, he could only score a duck but come to his third Test, he scored his first century, bailing them out of trouble. After his first three years, he averaged 38 with the bat, establishing himself as one of the best all-rounders in the country.
But come 2020, his place as an all-rounder was questioned, he was already the second-best in the country, behind Ravindra Jadeja. However, he answered his critics with two crucial innings - one in Sydney and now in Chennai - that his batting hasn’t quite dipped to an alarming mark. He was right on point in Chennai, right from the first ball, where he was sweeping it, around in his own ground. This came just after a day, which saw 15 wickets fall, with batsmen trembling to play spin, and talks of the pitch coming up as headlines. He came out attacking, scoring a brilliant century, where he swept right off the pitch, not allowing the ball to zip and turn past him.
If the English team are indeed watching his knock closely, it would tell them exactly how it isn’t as tough as the English media have painted it to be, it’s just a game of patience. Incidentally, he also came out in the presser and said that the Indian team would show the visitors how to bat. Looks like he’s taken it seriously and scored a brilliant century, the image above says a lot! SILENCE!
Runs on offer if skills are met
We have all heard about something being on offer if the conditions are met right?
In this case, amidst all the talks of how the pitch is bad, worse and several other adjectives that walk the same path, India showed that runs are on offer if skills are met. On the surface, where the English batsmen fell faster than a pack of cards, the partnership between Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin showed that runs were on offer, plenty of them. It required patience, composure and utmost trust in one’s defence. While Kohli did that early on in the innings, was exactly a concoction of that - really patient with his defence before maximising with immaculate footwork, where he took on the spinners brilliantly. Now if you think only Kohli could do it, Ashwin topped it with a brilliant century.
It was not about his century, it was not even about the way he got there but it was about how calculated he was during the entire innings. Sweep, lap shot, reverse sweep, orthodox defence, cover drive and mow over short mid-wicket, Ashwin had all the shots on offer during the third day. Even Mohammed Siraj showed for a matter of fact that there were runs on offer, plenty of them, batsmen just had to trust themselves, their shot selection and play the bounce, not the bowler. India scored 286 runs, after bowling out England for just 134, plenty of runs on offer, just needs a good technique. Well, England? They showed that scoring was possible.