Welcome to day two of our live report of the second India-England Test from Chennai. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here
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India 329 and 53 for 1 (Rohit 25*, Pujara 7*) lead England 134 (Ashwin 5-43) by 249 runs
India took giant strides towards levelling the series in Chennai after running through England and then building steadily on a 195-run lead. Fifteen wickets fell in the day, R Ashwin claiming five of them in an innings for the 29th time in Tests, as England’s hopes of hanging in the contest on a turning pitch were obliterated in two sessions of skittish batting.
England were in trouble from the outset of their reply, losing Rory Burns in the opening over and Joe Root, the batting talisman during three consecutive wins in Sri Lanka and India, before he had managed double – let alone triple – figures. They sneaked past the follow-on mark thanks to a nuggety, unbeaten 42 from Ben Foakes, but India were doubtless content to bat again on their commanding lead, and leave England to worry about facing their demons again on days three and four.
4.20pm: Shots fired (or not)
What do we all think of that Rohit lbw appeal, then?
4.15pm: Umpires keeping busy
England’s spinners are plugging away gamely, even though the tourists are currently coming third in a two-horse race. And the conditions continue to test the umpires as much as the players, with three outings for the DRS in as many overs. Jack Leach broke the opening stand by trapping Gill – he seemed to be told by his partner to review only for Hawk-Eye to show the ball hitting middle and leg. England then asked the question after Moeen turned one into Rohit’s front pad, with bat tucked firmly in behind; they thought he wasn’t playing a shot, but Virender Sharma and TV umpire Anil Chaudhary took a different view. Next over, Nitin Menon gave Rohit out reverse-sweeping at Leach, only for UltraEdge to show some bat involved. Spin, spin, sugar!
3.55pm: Raging debate
We’ve probably not heard the last of the chuntering about this pitch (though I suspect England will largely keep their counsel), but here’s Sidharth Monga to break down one of the key differences between the bowling efforts of either side:
When the ball reached the hands of R Ashwin and Axar Patel the full tosses and the long hops disappeared. In all, England spinners bowled 14 full tosses. On 20 occasions they were cut or pulled. India’s spinners were cut or pulled 10 times, and bowled no full toss. And full tosses and being cut or pulled are the extremes; there are many other bad balls spinners can bowl within the spectrum.
Basically as a spinner on such a pitch you know you are in the game if you keep drawing a forward defensive or from on the crease. In a much shorter innings, India’s spinners drew the forward-defensive 112 times to England’s 115. If you are accurate enough to keep the batsmen tied down, your eventual misbehaving ball is likelier to be more lethal because you will have fielders in place to take the catches. Add to the accuracy the guile of Ashwin’s changes of pace, the drift, and then the variations in seam angles from both the spinners to make sure the ball spins less.
Knowing the quality of spin England brought, India knew it was the scoreboard pressure that made them potent in the first Test. That is why they were happy to take the risk of what can sometimes turn out to be a lottery pitch. They didn’t just gamble; they backed themselves to negate the toss advantage on such a surface.
Whatever you think of the pitch – and there will be talk around it because it started exploding in the first session of the Test – the side winning this game has played much better cricket, and it wasn’t even close. And they did so through a method, skill and discipline, and not through lottery.
3.35pm: Sixy batting
More signs that India will follow Rohit’s “productive” mantra in the second innings, with both openers clearing the boundary ropes early on. Rohit cracked Stone for a flat six over deep square leg to move above Saurav Ganguly as the fifth-highest Indian on this list (and every chance he’ll go past Kapil Dev during the course of this innings, too). Shubman Gill, who really didn’t get much chance to play himself in after padding up third ball in the first innings, then waltzed out to pump Moeen Ali over long-on. India flying out of the blocks.
3.20pm: Chepauk the talk
India have resumed their march towards 1-1. With so much time in the game, they can aim to bat pretty much in whatever manner they choose – but you would assume they will continue to be positive, given that wickets have fallen regularly so far. Still won’t stop a bit of #declarationspeculation from cropping up at some stage, I should think. Olly Stone and Jack Leach open up for England second time around. Probably not worth wondering about what good picking James Anderson would have done…
3.05pm: Ashwin FTW
R Ashwin wraps it up, claiming his 29th Test five-for to end the England innings on 134. India will have to bat again, sitting on a 195-run lead, and it’ll take something of Adelaide proportions to get England back into the contest (and even then you wouldn’t fancy them chasing 232 runs here).
3pm: Screamer Part 2!
Rishabh Pant has clung on to another one-handed pearler, this time to dismiss Jack Leach. England had just saved the follow-on from the previous delivery, Ben Foakes chopping Ishant Sharma for three to bring Leach on strike. Arguably the catch was made to look better than it needed to be because of Pant’s footwork, his weight moving to his right before he readjusted late and flung out his left mitt – but it was still an top catch, and India’s work is nearly done.
England are inching towards the follow-on target, mainly in singles but Jack Leach has stepped out to pop Patel nonchalantly down the ground. Those following in the UK at just gone 9am on a chilly February morning might think there are more fulfilling things to do on Valentine’s Day, such as listen to Will Self read out a love letter to the London underground on Radio 4 (and there’s not much more Will Self than eulogising the “strangely rational burrow” and “peculiar origami” of the tube network) – but stick around, because this game hasn’t quite gone the way of the Norwegian Blue yet. If you have given up on England, then why not have a read of Anantha Narayanan’s stats breakdown of the most unforgettable draws in Test history? (Not that I’m trying to suggest this match will end up on such a list one day. Don’t be daft.)
England 106 for 8 (Foakes 23*) trail India 329 (Rohit 161, Rahane 67, Pant 58*, Moeen 4-128) by 223 runs
India maintained a vice-like grip on the second Test after taking four wickets during the afternoon session in Chennai. R Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj – with his first ball in home Tests – and Axar Patel made the inroads, with England still 24 runs short of avoiding the follow-on mark at tea.
The tourists may have been set an example of how to thrive as well as survive on this surface, but there was no Rohit Sharma-style riposte as England desperately sought a toe-hold in the game. Ben Stokes fell soon after the resumption, his nemesis Ashwin dismissing him for the ninth time in Tests with a beauty that dipped and spun sharply to hit off stump.
Siraj had waited almost 40 overs for a bowl, but straight away had Ollie Pope caught down the leg side by a flying Rishabh Pant, after a 35-run stand with Ben Foakes – the highest of the innings. Patel returned to get Moeen Ali, the acrobatics in the field this time performed by Ajinkya Rahane at slip, and when Ashwin had Olly Stone caught at midwicket England had again lost a wicket to the final ball before the break.
The only semblance of resistance came in the shape of Foakes, who faced more deliveries than any of the top six and helped the innings creep into three figures.
1.50pm: The real quiz
1.40pm: Toughing it out
Pretty much everything has gone as India and Virat Kohli would have hoped for in this match so far, but Foakes is giving another tidy account of himself on his return to the Test side for the first time in two years (as an aside, there’s an unusual number of players in this match playing their first match since 2019: Foakes, Moeen Ali, Olly Stone and Kuldeep Yadav). No byes/leg byes conceded with the gloves, and he’s now faced more balls than anyone else in the England innings. Foakes, of course, scored a century on debut in Galle, and went into this game with a 40-plus Test average – higher than any of his team-mates other than Joe Root – so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s looked solid in exacting conditions.
Yes, is the answer, Dale – and he’ll get a wicket with his first ball! Not only that, it’s come via a flying one-handed catch down the leg side from Rishabh Pant! England had scrimped together the beginnings of a useful stand between Pope and Foakes, but Mohammed Siraj has separated them, as well as striking with his first Test delivery on home soil. Maybe not quite what he was bowling for, Pope looking to glance off his hip, just tickled the glove… and Pant then snagged it in his left paw, managing to juggle the ball successfully as he landed. India’s lead is 242 and this game looks to be heading only one way.
12.57pm: Enter Kuldeep
Kuldeep Yadav: ‘Perhaps it is now my time to stand up for the team’
Having bowled unchanged from the start of England’s second innings in the first Chennai Test, R Ashwin finally gets a moment to rest his fingers. Time for the twisti-twosti lefty wristy stylings of Kuldeep.
12.50pm: Here come the Rey
Why Axar will be more effective than Nadeem on this pitch
It’s only 20-plus runs and counting, but England have their biggest partnership of the innings so far. Two Surrey boys are out in the middle, with Ollie Pope looking particularly busy alongside Ben Foakes; both have needed some fortune against Patel, whose ability to straighten the ball from round the wicket or push it on with the arm, allied with good pace, has been impressive – almost Jadeja-esque. Earlier, the Match Day crew broke down why they thought the debutant would be a good pick.
12.30pm: Ashwin snares Stokes (redux)
Five quiet overs after the interval,
maybe we’ll see another wicketless afternoon session – there’s the breakthrough, and it’s Ashwin scooping up Stokes’ wicket for the ninth time in Tests (and 13th in all internationals). Beautifully flighted, slowed the pace and Stokes seemed to belatedly try to correct himself only to miss the ball by a distance as it spun from middle and leg to judder his off stump. Stokes might be viewed as one of England’s better players of spin, but he averages just 17.84 against India’s offie. And with that dismissal, Ashwin has overtaken Harbhajan Singh to sit second on the list for most Test wickets in India.
12.15pm: Kuldeep lurks in the deep…
Kohli has stuck with the combination of Ashwin and Axar Patel after lunch, with the right-hand/left-hand pair of Stokes and Ollie Pope in the middle. Should England manage to cobble a partnership, then they might have to deal with wristspin, too, at some stage. Kuldeep Yadav is back in the Test team for the first time since the 2018-19 tour of Australia – he spoke to Nagraj Gollapudi before the start of this series about what it would be like to select again:
“I would be playing a Test match after nearly after two years, so it would be similar to making your debut. I want to perform for the team and give 100%, like always. You will naturally feel the same nervousness [as on debut]. There will also be pressure to do well. Everyone is watching you, expectations are big, and when the team is playing well, you want to contribute – big or small, put in the effort, and when you do that, your role is praised.”
12.05pm: An Ashwin never forgets
A little nugget picked up by my colleague Gaurav Sundararaman during that action-packed hour before lunch: India lost a review in Ashwin’s eighth over, after Virat Kohli was convinced to use the DRS against Stokes – the ball spun sharply to hit the left-hander on the back leg, but was heading over the top of off stump, according to ball-tracking. But you can’t blame the bowler for being interested, given this dismissal in Mohali four years ago. Ashwin remembered and could be heard referring to it on the stump mic, though he perhaps failed to factor in the extra bounce on offer in Chennai this time around. Stokes survived, but Ashwin will doubtless get another crack at extending his lead atop this list on the resumption.
England 39 for 4 (Stokes 8*) trail India 329 (Rohit 161, Rahane 67, Pant 58*, Moeen 4-128) by 290 runs
Eight wickets fell before lunch on day two at Chepauk as India took a grip on the second Test. Most significant of them all was that of Joe Root, England’s captain and double-centurion on this ground a week ago, who was removed for 6 by the debutant Axar Patel as England limped queasily to the interval.
India had already forged themselves a strong position on the back of Rohit Sharma’s conditions-defying 161, and although they could only add 29 runs to their overnight 300 for 6, the bowlers were soon tucking into their work on a responsive surface. Ishant Sharma trapped Rory Burns lbw in the first over – the opener’s second consecutive duck – and R Ashwin then struck twice either side of Root’s dismissal. Dom Sibley was caught at short leg off the back of the bat attempting to sweep, and Dan Lawrence’s torture was ended with the last ball before lunch after making 9 off 52.
11.07am: No Root rescue act!
Live by the sweep, die by the sweep. Axar Patel, the debutant left-arm spinner, has removed Joe Root cheaply in the first innings for the first time this year. Big splash from the surface as this ball pitched and turned away from Root as he went hard at it, only to send a top edge towards Ashwin at backward square leg… and bring an eruption of noise around Chepauk, as the #knowledgablecrowd greet the dismissal of England’s captain and batting bellwether. England 23 for 3 on a turner and in all sorts of trouble.
Meanwhile, news from the India camp is that Cheteshwar Pujara isn’t on the field after experiencing some pain in his right hand, having been hit by Olly Stone while batting yesterday.
10.54am: Ashwin amongst ’em
Scratch that, Dom Sibley’s dogged resistance has been ended, caught at short leg sweeping – trying to be proactive, in fact. He’s a little unlucky, too, as the ball squirted up off his pad and clipped the back of the bat as it swung around. India needed to go to the DRS after Nitin Menon shook his head, but they’ve checked the right part of the tape this time (and Sibley was walking anyway). R Ashwin has a first wicket for the home crowd to salute and Joe Root, England’s best chance of putting a fighting score on the board, is out to the middle half an hour or so before lunch. He’s off the mark second ball with a sweep, Lawrence still waiting for his first run.
10.45am: Dig in
“When you play on turning pitches, you’ve got to be proactive, you can’t be reactive.” That was Rohit Sharma’s advice after bossing the show with his first-innings 161 – were England listening? Dom Sibley and Dan Lawrence, with 20 Tests between them, won’t have often faced conditions like this (although, as was pointed out by one wag on Twitter yesterday, Lawrence made a two-ball duck in Essex’s title-decider at Taunton in 2019, on a pitch which lived up to its “Ciderbad” billing). Neither has quite taken the Rohit approach so far, but they’re hanging in.
10.25am: Burns singed
Test wicket No. 301 for Ishant Sharma. England’s batsmen have probably spent the last 24 hours wondering how they are going to cope with India’s spinners, but just like yesterday there’s an early wicket for pace as Rory Burns misses a straight one from Ishant for his second duck in a row. Just clipping leg stump – umpire’s call – on review, but that’s the perfect start for the home side, after posting a solid total. England 0 for 1, and they haven’t faced a ball from Ashwin, Patel and Yadav yet…
10.10am: That’s yer lot
Two in three balls once again, and England have managed to sneak out of this morning without taking too much damage. Olly Stone continued a fine return to Test cricket by removing Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj, both caught behind, and that means Pant was left stranded on 58 not out. He scored 25 of the 29 runs India added to their total this morning, and was good for tonking a few more if he could just find someone to hang around at the other end (admittedly easier said than done on this surface).
9.50am: More Pant pongo
It’s been the start we envisaged from Rishabh Pant, and he’s quickly raised a half-century – his fourth in home Tests. His sequence of balls faced this morning went like this: 1-dot-dot-6-1-4-4-dot-1, that last single taking him to 50. Not Jack Leach taking tap this time, with Joe Root bowling himself alongside Moeen, who has continued to serve up full tosses in the face of Pant’s onslaught. These could all be vital runs.
On the plus side for England, they’ve still to concede an extra in this innings – is Ben Foakes going to keep a clean sheet, just as he did on debut in Galle a couple of winters ago? They’re closing in on the record in Tests, too.
9.40am: Moeen gets going
Two wickets in three balls for Moeen Ali, bowling just the second over of the morning, have got England smiling. Although Moeen’s grin was slightly sheepish after a full toss did for Ishant Sharma. The other man to go was Axar Patel, who overbalanced and was smartly stumped by Ben Foakes as the pitch again demonstrated its spinning nature. Pant has so far faced one ball, scored one single, and lost two partners.
9.30am: How good was Rohit?
Just to reflect a little longer on the performance that may have set the course of this match, Rohit Sharma’s fabulous innings meant his home average now sits at 83.55 – second only to the Don. Okay, you might quibble that his away record (average: 27.00) could do with improving, but there’s not many that could have played the innings he did on Saturday. Never mind Bradman, it was right in the Sehwag bracket. In these conditions, you can’t get much higher praise.
Morning and welcome back. Hands up who likes it spicy? India looked to have got themselves into a good position at the end of day one thanks to a Rohit Sharma masterclass, and they’ll hope to add a few more this morning before it’s England turn to tango on this dancing Chepauk deck. The suspicion is that 300-plus could already be a defining total, but Rishabh Pant won’t want to stop there – and if the pitch continues to snap, crackle and pop, it should be plenty fun to watch. Buckle up.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick