England blown away by dominant India in second test
By Sam Broad
After England comfortably won the first test in Chennai. The second test proved a different story as India dealt with England efficiently, winning the matchup by 317 runs.
What went wrong for England?
The first two test matches produced contrasting results. Although, not entirely to blame. The state of the pitch certainly played its part in England’s downfall.
In the first test the pitch was a flat surface. Allowing fast bowlers, James Anderson and Jofra Archer to take multiple wickets. England won the first test by 227 runs, with Joe Root scoring 218 runs in the first innings.
As England won the first test so effortlessly. There became the expectation that England might cruise to a test series victory in India, an achievement which would arguably be the highlight of Root’s England captaincy.
However, the second test challenged England. The pitch was dry, cracked and dusty from day one. This suited the spin bowlers. Most notably, Ravichandran Ashwin took eight wickets, while debutant Axar Patel got seven.
England cannot blame the pitch entirely, as India batted well throughout both innings. Rohit Sharma scored 161 runs. While effectively stopping an India collapse early in the first innings, as Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill both went for a duck.
While England’s spinners took several wickets, with Moeen Ali taking eight across the test. The Indian bowlers successfully kept the wary English batsmen under pressure for extended periods.
Whereas India were proactive with the bat, moving down the crease to unsettle the length and line of the English bowlers.
Due to relaxed COVID-19 rules in India, 15,000 fans were allowed in the stadium to watch the second test. The first test was played behind closed doors, with England remaining steady throughout. However, after 12 months of playing in empty stadiums, England looked unsettled under the scrutiny of the home fans. While India were reenergised, determined to give the crowd a good performance.
Will England bounce back in the next test?
It’s not all doom and gloom for England. James Anderson will come back into the team for Stuart Broad. Although, the fast bowler will need a better-quality pitch if he is to damage the Indian morale like he did in the first test.
With England keen to heavily rotate this series, Moeen Ali has left the bubble and has returned to England. Ali played well with both the bat and ball in the second test. No doubt England will miss Ali’s ability in the remaining tests if the pitch is as dependent on spin bowlers.
England’s first three batsmen are at risk of losing their places after some poor spells with the bat. Opening batsmen, Rory Burns and Dom Sibley struggled to give England a foothold in the second test. The addition of Johnny Bairstow will not only provide England with extra cover for wicketkeeper, Ben Foakes. It will ensure England have a quality opening batsman, who can confidently play against India’s spin bowlers. While Zac Crawley has returned to full fitness, Dan Lawrence will likely lose his place at number three. Crawley’s 267 runs against Sri Lanka; proves he is a young batsman capable of staying out in the middle for a long time.
This will ease the pressure on England’s middle order batsmen. Ben Stokes needs a big score in the next test, to back up Root’s recent heroic performances with the bat.
Although, the test series is hanging in the balance at 1-1. England need to adapt quickly to play on dry and dusty pitches, otherwise India will simply win the remaining two test matches with ease.