India put England in a spin to secure emphatic second Test win
Hosts take 1-0 series lead after Alistair Cook’s side are thrashed by 264 runs in Vizag
Joe Root and Alistair Cook after England’s heavy second Test defeat in Vizag. Photograph: Reuters/Danis Siddiqui
So often it is the hope that gnaws away at you. During that three-hour opening partnership between Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed on Sunday night hopes were raised but on Monday morning, another steamy one, cold reality returned. There was no escape for England and any expectations of a historic rearguard action were soon quashed by an Indian side that knows how to exploit their own conditions ruthlessly.
England lost by 246 runs, unflattering numbers since they managed to bat for 97.3 overs in their second innings. But there were still three and half hours left when the last man, Jimmy Anderson, was dismissed.
England were comprehensively outplayed over the five days – though they rallied as best they could on days three and four.
They are currently down but not out. One senses there is still great resolve within a squad that was made to look all too callow during their week in Visakhapatnam.
There was a grim inevitability about the fall of wickets, especially that of Ben Duckett, who can be regarded as a victim in all this. He is raw; he had made his name as a barnstorming opening batsman for Northamptonshire. Yet here he was in utterly alien territory, batting at four with no freedom to play his natural game against the world’s best off-spinner, who has already tormented him under the microscopic glare of international cricket.
It was all too much. Ravi Ashwin knows that he should hone in on Duckett’s leg-stump and he duly did so. In fact the ball that removed him for a duck was a poor one, way outside of leg-stump; Duckett attempted an orthodox sweep – by his standards – from a standing position and the ball took his glove before lobbing into the keeper’s. The simple, sad, realistic fact is that he cannot be selected in Mohali. In fact, it would probably do him no favours to be picked for the third Test. There are surely more Test runs in him.
England were locked in survival mode from the start but they could not frustrate a buoyant, aggressive Indian side. Moeen Ali hung on for 30 balls but the next one, from Ravindra Jadeja, popped up from his inside edge and pad to Virat Kohli at leg slip. Ben Stokes lasted two balls longer and was beaten on the back foot by a copybook off-break from Jayant Yadav.
Now Mohammed Shami, a bundle of energy in this series, intervened with the second new ball. For over an hour Joe Root had defended dutifully against the spinners, usually off the back foot; he had survived one chance on nine when dropped by Kohli at leg-slip off Ashwin. Shami bustled in from Dr Vizzy’s End and he found some uneven bounce; twice Root was hit and perhaps his concentration had waned when he tried to clip a full-length delivery through midwicket.
He reviewed the lbw decision, presumably on the basis that he was the side’s best player and their last hope. But it was a futile act of desperation. Now Jonny Bairstow, an anomaly at No7 given his batting prowess and the limitations of others, had the freedom to play a few shots, which he did with assurance. But Adil Rashid, caught behind trying to upper-cut a Shami bouncer, could not accompany him for long.
The last three wickets fell swiftly after lunch. Zafar Ansari was defeated by an Ashwin shooter, a grim end to a match he is unlikely to remember with any affection. There is every chance that he will be wearing a yellow bib alongside Duckett in Chandigarh. Stuart Broad was lbw – after he had reviewed (of course); then Anderson broke all sorts of records when dismissed first ball by Jayant Yadav. Anderson now is the not so proud possessor of more ducks than any England cricketer.
He also became the first Englishman to register a king pair in Test cricket for 110 years. He will smile about that – one day.