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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

James Anderson’s reverse-swing guides England to 227-run win over hosts India

After a cautious England set a daunting 420-run victory target on the fourth day of the first Test, India were bowled out for a paltry 192 in the second session of the final day in 58.1 overs.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: February 9, 2021 2:36:12 pm
James Anderson celebrating after bowling out Ajinkya Rahane on the final day of the first Test. (BCCI)

India fell victim to an almost-unavoidable defeat at the hands of England on Tuesday when the visitors bagged a comprehensive 227-run victory in the opening Test at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

After a cautious England set India a daunting 420-run victory target on the fourth day, India were bowled out for a paltry 192 in the second session of the final day in 58.1 overs.

Virat Kohli (72 off 104 balls) seemed like a lonely general as he showed his colleagues how to bat on a difficult track. His vigour in taking on the swing and the spin alike was the only shining light for the hosts.

“I don’t think we put enough pressure on them with the ball in the first half…credit to England, they got stuck in and put up a big total on the board,” Kohli conceded in the post-match presentation.

“England were far more professional and consistent throughout the Test match than we were,” he added.

Courtesy Anderson (11-4-17-3), the match became a mismatch within an hour and India now need to win two out of the next three Tests to qualify for the World Test Championship final in June. The player of the match honours went to England skipper Joe Root for his match-defining double hundred in the first innings.

Jack Leach (26-4-76-4), who after his first innings humilation at the hands of Rishabh Pant, finished with the best figures but the effort paled in comparison to the effect that Anderson had on the psyche of the Indian team.

The man from Burnley, in his 19th Test match season, showed his artistry with a semi-new ball, on a fifth day track and sapping Chennai heat, far removed conditions from the grey skies and cool breeze that Old Trafford gives him.

But then Anderson is a devotee and best practitioner of Test match ethos and doesn’t need to take refuge in conditions because of his supreme control over his craft.

At 38 years 194 days and in his 158th Test match, Anderson became an example of why one should can never discount experience.

Gill (50, 83 balls) once again looked dazzling till the time he was at the crease. The sinewy wrists were in play as he hit seven fours and a six, dealing with spinners comfortably.

Even Cheteshwar Pujara’s (15 off 38 balls) dismissal off Jack Leach’s “peach” didn’t unfaze the young man from Punjab as he along with Kohli calmly went about their business.

It was the 27th over when Anderson first came into the attack and the second ball was a perfect reverse inswinger which had Gill in a daze as the off-stump went for a walk.

The way the shiny part on the inside tailed in was a sight to behold.

Rahane (0), for all the appreciation coming his way, was in very poor form for the better part of the Australia series, save a hundred at MCG where he was dropped thrice.

The first ball he faced on Tuesday was another one that came back a shade and it was hitting the middle of the middle stump with the Umpires’ Call saving the vice-captain of what looked like a plumb leg before.

The wily Anderson realised that an out-of-form Rahane’s feet are not moving.

The next time he just went a shade wide off the crease and delivered another reverse inswinger. Rahane knew that there was no comeback.

Pant (11) has had three great knocks but he was facing a bowler with supreme game awareness and immaculate understanding of conditions.

Against a left-hander, he predictably came round the wicket and angled a few in with a busy Pant hitting a boundary.

By then, Anderson had gauged that Pant could be hurried on the drive.

So the master changed his tactic and bowled a slower one enticing Pant to go for a drive.

Pant tried his best to check it but the bowler had asked his skipper Joe Root to specifically stand at short cover for that particular shot.

From 92 for 2, it was 110 for five and Kohli cut a lonely figure at the other end.

Washington Sundar (0) was then picked by Dom Bess with the one that turned away leaving India in complete tatters.

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