India polish off small chase to extend unbeaten streak
India pulled off a thumping eight-wicket victory against England on the fourth day in Mohali to take a 2-0 lead in the five-Test series. England’s batsmen showed some fight on the fourth day with Joe Root and Haseeb Hameed scoring fifties but India’s bowlers never let the advantage slip. Requiring just 103 to win, India lost Murali Vijay early to Chris Woakes but a rapid 67 off 54 balls from Parthiv Patel ensured that the remaining runs were knocked off with ease, thereby extending India’s unbeaten streak in Test series’ to six.
The victory on the fourth day was set up by the bowlers early in the first session. England started the day still trailing by 56 runs but before they could come level, they had already lost two wickets. It took Ravindra Jadeja only two deliveries on the day to get rid of the nightwatchman, Gareth Batty, trapping him LBW with one that went straight on. Jos Buttler was looking to be positive and scored a run-a-ball 18, including a lofted six off Jadeja to get off the mark. However, he couldn’t restrain himself despite a trap being set. Jayant Yadav, bowling from round the wicket, had his legside field accurate for Buttler. Kohli placed a man at straightish deep mid wicket towards the boundary line. Buttler took the bait, coming down the track and going through with a lofted shot but ended up holing out to Jadeja placed in the deep.
With the visitors still trailing by 27, the 19-year old Hameed finally came out to bat at No. 8. Hameed was still nursing a sore little finger on his left hand after being hit by Umesh Yadav in the first innings. It also prompted Kohli to bring back a pacer against Hameed. Mohammed Shami got some reverse swing going but also peppered Hameed with short balls in a bid to challenge his discomfort. The batsman though managed to keep swaying away from the line, dropping his wrists while also keeping out the odd full ball swinging in. At the other end, Root continued to be patient and added 14 more to his overnight score to bring up his 25th Test fifty. R Ashwin was needed to come on only after the first drinks break. He could have had an immediate reward had it not been for a dropped catch by Parthiv behind the stumps. Floating a delivery outside off from round the wicket, making Hameed stretch out to defend. But with little turn off the pitch and the drift taking it away, Hameed ended up getting big outside edge but Parthiv couldn’t get his gloves around it in time.
But, Hameed continued to show patience and temperament that a few others of his age show and allowed Root to bat with a little more confidence. Through the second hour, the duo added 45 runs for the eighth wicket, taking England into the lead as well. However, with just ten minutes to go for the lunch break, Root took a chance to drive against a flighted delivery from Jadeja but ended up nicking it, and Ajinkya Rahane at slip, stuck his left hand out to take a catch that left him quite stunned. Root’s 78 was instrumental in preventing an abject collapse but at Lunch, with only three wickets in hand and a lead of just 22, England were far from a position of comfort.
Hameed and Woakes showed admirable resistance after the break with the former showing that he was good at getting the boundaries at regular intervals, getting right back to play with the spinners’ lengths. Hameed was the anchor at the other end. Still hampered by the sore finger, Hameed played to his strengths, which was defence. But just when the partnership was getting into a zone of promise, India managed to snuff it out.
The second new ball, taken in the 82nd over, sparked this turnaround. Mohammed Shami struck Woakes flush on the helmet with a bouncer as the batsman was looking to pull, sending a strap of his helmet flying out. The Indians crowded around a rattledWoakes in concern with the captain Kohli coming around to pat the batsman on the back. After the niceties were done though, Shami showed none of it with the ball. The next one was as sharp a bouncer as the previous one. This time Woakes didn’t go for a full-blooded pull. He fended at it instead and offered a simple catch to the wicket-keeper, ending the 43-run stand. Shami now had found a useful wicket-taking option and gave it another rip with Rashid facing just his second ball. The batsman, going for a pull, and holed out to fine leg. India were now in sight of finishing the innings off but a gutsy innings from the teenaged Hameed kept them waiting.
Farming the strike is not something an opener is required to do always but Hameed showed that he had the right temperament for it. Taking the singles at the end of the over and getting the boundaries with hard slog sweeps through mid wicket, one of which got him his second Test fifty as well, Hameed made a mark for himself in a dying cause. After adding 41 runs for the last wicket, in a bid to keep strike, Hameed pushed Anderson for a second run and took on Jadeja at deep mid wicket. But India’s best fielder fired in a sharp throw to the bowler Ashwin, who parried it onto the stumps to catch Anderson short.
England were bowled out for 236, setting India a target of 103 while Hameed walked off, unbeaten on 59 and to appreciation from members of the opposition.
India’s chase started off on a false note with Vijay edging a short ball to second slip, off Woakes, in just the second over. The short balls were proving to be a threat for England too with the ball and the pacers were generous in use of it. Anderson also went for a review against Cheteshwar Pujara, with the batsman fending to a climber, but replays didn’t indicate a touch on glove. After that though, both Parthiv and Pujara got going with a flurry of boundaries, taking India to 33 for one in just six overs before Tea.
Patel continued in the same tempo even after the break, stroking his way to a 39-ball fifty, his fifth in Tests, and making sure that he too made a mark in his comeback Test. When Pujara fell, top edging a sweep to short fine leg against Rashid, India were just 15 short of victory. It came soon after, in emphatic fashion, with Patel lofting Root over cover a boundary, and ensuring that India remained unbeaten for a 16th consecutive game.
Brief Scores: England 283 & 236 (Joe Root 78, Haseeb Hameed 59; R Ashwin 3-81, Jayant Yadav 2-21) lost to India 417 & 104/2 (Parthiv Patel 67*, Cheteshwar Pujara 25; Adil Rashid 1-28) by eight wickets.