Not for the first time in the ongoing Test series, England have won the toss, elected to bat, and finished on a decent-looking score on Day 1.
Given that they have already surrendered the five-match series 0-3 after a crushing loss in Mumbai despite getting good starts, India will draw plenty of hope looking ahead at the remaining four days. A 4-0 possibility is still very much on the cards, given how the hosts have bounced back after a mediocre opening day to swing things in their favour.
The opening day of the Chepauk Test in Chennai turned out to be one that could have seen the Indians gain a tight grip on the match, but instead were thwarted by some inspired batting by Moeen Ali and Joe Root. This helped England recover from a shaky start of 21/2 to a decent score of 284/4 at stumps, with the former still batting on 120 at the end of the 90th over.
Ishant Sharma, making his first appearance in the current series at the expense of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, set rookie opener Keaton Jennings up with a series of short deliveries, followed by a sucker punch in the form of a fuller delivery outside off that induced the batsman into a rash drive, getting the outside edge to the wicketkeeper in the process.
England skipper Alastair Cook, who has been having a mixed run in the ongoing series, had been at the receiving end of vociferous appeals by Ravindra Jadeja, unsettling his concentration. Jadeja managed to scalp his wicket for fifth time in the series by getting the latter’s outside edge that resulted in an easy catch for his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli in the slips.
However, Root continued his fine form — he is currently in the second spot in the leading run-scorers list, 100 ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara. The Yorkshireman joined forces with Moeen to form a solid 146-run stand for the third wicket, which helped keep local boy Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja, the two wreckers-in-chief of the English batting order in the series, at bay .
Even though Jadeja managed to peg the visitors back by a step by removing Jonny Bairstow one short of a well-deserved half-century in the latter stages of the first day, the presence of Moeen, with Ben Stokes for company at the other end, will be one that will worry the hosts overnight.
Skipper Kohli had opted to bring in the spinners early on Day 2 of the previous Test in Mumbai, although the turn at Wankhede was sharper than what we are witnessing at Chepauk at the moment. So, the spinners will need to up the ante and try to send Moeen back in the hut as soon as possible in the morning session. Stokes too, has shown resilience in bits in this series, and he can be dangerous on his day. Two early wickets might give India some much-needed momentum. And they can take advantage of the fact that the England lower order hasn’t done well so far and try and dismiss the tail soon. Amit Mishra endured a field day with the English batsmen targeting him. He will need to bounce back hard. The spin trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Mishra will be crucial for the hosts to restrict England for less than 400 — which turned out to be below-par in the previous game. As the cliche goes, the first session of the day will be crucial.
First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 08:15 IST