England are in India to play four Test matches as part of the ICC Test Championship and with just the one Test left to play the score stands at 2-1 to the home side. Many thought that this last game would be a dead rubber, so credit must be given to the England team for ensuring that the series is still alive going into the final match. In this article, we are going to take a quick look at what has happened in the three matches so far, and then give our thoughts on what will happen in the final Test.
First Test – M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
England went into this Test knowing that they had to get off to a flier if they were going to have any chance in this series, and that is exactly what they did. England won the toss and Joe Root, who was playing in his 100th Test match, decided to bat first.
England were two wickets down with just 63 runs on the board, but a 200 run partnership between Dom Sibley and Root took England 263/3. Then Root had a 124-run partnership with Ben Stokes to take England to 387/4 and Ollie Pope to help England towards 473/5. Root scored a majestic 218 and England were bowled out for 578.
India, in reply, got off to a nightmare start and found themselves four wickets down with just 73 runs on the boards thanks to some hostile bowling from Jofra Archer and the guile of Dom Bess. James Anderson and Jack Leach also chipped in with two wickets each to bowl India out for 337, meaning England had a first innings lead of 241 runs.
The visitors went on to plunder a quick 178 runs in their second innings, and Ravi Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers with 6 wickets for 61 runs. This meant that India needed 419 runs to claim victory in the first Test. They got nowhere close thanks to fine bowling spells by Leach and Anderson, with Best Stokes, and Archer all chipping in with one wicket each.
England won the match by 227 runs and took a 1-0 lead in the series, which is not something those who regularly bet on cricket online would have predicted. You will understand why when you hear that this was the first time India had lost a Test match at home since England won here back in 2012. Anyone who did bet on England to win, would have walked away with a nice little profit, that is for sure.
Second Test – M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
India entered this match knowing that they needed to not lose if they wanted to still be in with a chance of winning the series, which is probably why the pitch was conducive to spin a lot more than in the first test. Virat Kohli won the toss and decided to bat first, as you do when you win the toss in India.
England got off to a flier and sent Shubman Gill back to the hut without troubling the score, and then Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli were dismissed in quick succession, the latter for a duck, to leave India reeling at 86/3. However, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane dug in to take India to 248/4. However, England fought back with the ball and India lost their remaining six wickets for 81 runs. Olly Stone was the pick of the England bowlers with 3 wickets for 47 runs.
England’s innings could not have gone much worse though as they struggled with India’s quality spin attack – they were bowled out for a mere 134, with Ben Foakes top scoring with 42*. India did not enforce the follow-on and smashed 286 runs in their second innings, with Ashwin top scoring with a brilliant 106. This meant that England needed a very unlikely 481 runs to make sure they could not lose the series.
Like India in the first match, they came nowhere close as they were bowled out for 164, with Axar Patel picking up 5 wickets for 60 runs. This meant that India won the match by 317 runs and levelled the series at 1-1. Although this was a very poor performance from England, they would definitely have taken a score of 1-1 going into the third Test if you offered them it at that start of the first Test.
Third Test – Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
Root won the toss again, and he had no hesitation in choosing to bat first. However, they did not expect the pitch to spin so much from Day One and were all out for a measly 112 after just 48.4 overs. Patel was England’s tormentor once again with 6 wickets for 38 runs.
In reply, India made their way to 98/3 and everyone thought that a massive score was on the cards, but they had their own collapse and were bowled out for 145 to give England a sniff. However, to give you an idea as to just how hard the pitch was to bat on, Root picked up 5 wickets for 8 runs in 38 balls – his first ever 5-wicket haul in cricket.
With the pitch playing like it was, England knew that if they could set India a target of 150, they could win the game. However, the Indian bowlers were too good and bowled them out for just 81 runs, meaning that India needed just 48 runs to win the match. Once again Patel caused havoc and picked up another 5-wicket haul.
India chased the runs down without losing a wicket, meaning that India won the game by 10 wickets and on the second day. India have won a Test match by a margin of 10 wickets on eight occasions. In terms of the number of balls bowled, this was the shortest Test since January 1935.
Fourth Test – Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
England will still be up for this game because if you had offered them a 2-2 draw at the start of the series, they would have bitten your hand off. Do we think they will manage to win the match to get a drawn series? Well, if the pitch spins as much as it did in the third Test, the simple answer to this question is no. If it is a rank-turner like the last one, the likes of Ashwin and Axar will be all over England like a cheap suit. However, if there is more of a contest between bat and ball, then England definitely have the quality to beat India in their own backyard, as they showed at the very beginning of this tour.