England romp home on Day 5 in Chennai despite Captain Kohli’s fluent 72
England rolled over Team India’s batting on Day 5 to register a famous win and take a 1-0 lead in the 4-match Test series. For India, who have defied the odds time and again over the past month, the miracle was not to come in Chennai. Instead, the middle order crumbled, and the resistance put up through Captain Virat Kohli’s half-century was only a small consolation as England romped home by 227 runs.
Ishant Sharma had remarked at the end of Day 4 that the first session on the final day would dictate Team India’s approach towards chasing down the target. After all, the team had managed to mount two successful coups on foreign land. But, on a track that had remained docile for the first two days, and gradually acquired demons over the next three, survival proved to be more difficult than the bounce of Australia.
The day started off on a bright note for Team India. Despite the fall of Cheteshwar Pujara quite early on, Shubman Gill looked imperious, taking on the English spinners with consummate ease. Virat Kohli, upon his return, looked more comfortable in the second outing. With the pair rollicking along, it appeared as if Team India could slowly begin entertaining thoughts of yet another improbable win.
England needed inspiration, and that came from the familiar quarters of James Anderson. A veteran on his fourth Test to the shores of India, and an exponent of reverse swing, Anderson proved to be the undoing of the Indian middle order. Shubman Gill who had thus far not encountered any major red flags on the track suddenly saw an inswinging delivery sneaking past between his bat and pad. 3 balls later, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane’s off-stump cartwheeled which would have been hard to differentiate from the Gill dismissal had it not been for the bat-maker's name. Pant and Sundar, India’s top scorers from the first innings fell before the teams could head back for lunch, and the writing was on the wall.
India’s only hope to save the Test would have been for Captain Kohli and Ashwin to bat through the rest of the final day. Ashwin was at the receiving end of a barrage of short-pitched bowling from Jofra Archer, Team India’s physio Nitin Patel making more runs onto the field than on an average day. The resilient 80-run stand came to an end when in an almost ironic way having copped all the blows from the hard SG ball, Ashwin feathered one with his glove to Buttler behind the stumps off off-spinner Jack Leach.
Virat Kohli however looked comfortable. He soon raced past his half-century off only his 74th ball, making batting look easy. It took a Chennai Day 5 special where the ball decided to scoot through without looking up to dismiss India’s captain. There was hardly any doubt left thereafter. England put to rest all the chatter about the late declaration with an impressive final day showing.
For Team India who have shown their ability to come back strong after a hard loss, the second Test match beginning in four days’ time at the same venue provides an opportunity to put any lingering doubts about their ability to bat on home soil to rest.