LUNCH: India 156-6 (Kohli 38, Ashwin 34)
Kohli superb. Especially you consider the carnage around him in the first hour, he played the situation perfectly. Now, with Ashwin riding shotgun, they are now very much back into a position where the home side control their own destiny. Truth told, they already did, but the wobble is no more. For England, Leach was dangerous early and Foakes brilliant with the gloves, but they’re just too far behind in this Test match after what happened with the bat yesterday.
48th over: India 156-6 (Kohli 38, Ashwin 34) The runs leak after the failed appeal, singles to both men before Ashwin steers Lawrence away past third man… and Kohli cops a please explain for running straight through the danger area when coming back for his third run. And quite right, too – he absolutely did. Anyway, it doesn’t bother him, the captain finishing with a nicely driven two to raise the 50-partnership between this pair. That’s lunch. Five wickets and 102 runs across 30 overs in the session; India now ahead by 351 runs.
“I am amazed that Foakes is standing up to Broad,” says Sankaran Krishna. “Right up at the stumps. What an amazing keeper! Cannot believe England keep leaving him out.” It’s a compelling argument.
NOT OUT! Lawrence’s delivery spun as sharply as any this morning but it didn’t get anywhere near the inside edge of Ashwin’s bat.
HAS DAN LAWRENCE (YES, DAN LAWRENCE!) FOUND ASHWIN’S EDGE DOWN THE LEGSIDE? Probably not but up we go anyway.
47th over: India 149-6 (Kohli 35, Ashwin 30) Foakes, up to the stumps again to Broad, is taking these with ease. I know they practice this day after day, but it’s such an impressive skill. Sure enough, Broad is on the spot throughout, giving Kohli nothing.
“Morning Adam.” Hello, Kim Thonger. “The England selectors should have brought Derek Underwood out of retirement for this Test. We’d be 2-0 up in the series by now. He’d have mercilessly torn India apart on this pitch.” He’d’ve been… Deadly.
46th over: India 149-6 (Kohli 35, Ashwin 30) Root is on Kohli’s leg stump from around the wicket and the superstar is seeing the ball so well he catches up with it with ease, easing a glance off the middle of the bat to the fine leg rope. Four minutes left until lunch.
“After showing the English spinners how to bowl yesterday,” says Mittu Choudhary, “Ashwin is now teaching the English batsmen a trick or two on how to score runs on this pitch.”
And he’ll be telling them all about it too, make no mistake.
45th over: India 143-6 (Kohli 30, Ashwin 29) Stuart Broad! Welcome to the attack. Foakes is up to the stumps – you love to see it. Edge, dropped! Stokes at first slip puts it down. It’s a fine bit of bowling, a leg-cutter that jags away from Ashwin. It arrived quick with the all-rounder up so close as the one cordon catcher. The lead is 338.
“Morning Adam.” And to you, Martin Wright. “You have to feel for Dom Bess. That’s all I’m saying.”
Not wrong. You get a pitch like this once or twice in a Test career.
44th over: India 138-6 (Kohli 30, Ashwin 24) A maiden from Leach to Kohli to settle things down just a touch after a busy burst for India.
43rd over: India 138-6 (Kohli 30, Ashwin 24) Ash goes again on the sweep, clearing backward square leg! Shot! Gavaskar declares that, because India have made in excess of 130, there is nothing too difficult about batting on the pitch. Well, that’s that, I suppose.
Meanwhile, what an innings from India’s captain.
42nd over: India 133-6 (Kohli 29, Ashwin 20) I suppose if one man is going to handle a ragging track it is the man who knows how to bowl on this his home ground. Ashwin here, for the umpteenth time since walking in, sweeps at Leach and nails it behind square – his third four. Another clip follows for two, albeit standing tall this time. Ohhh, but to finish the over Leach sends down a beauty, turning huge to beat the outside edge. That’s the dangerous length here.
41st over: India 127-6 (Kohli 29, Ashwin 14) Ashwin is going okay here, slapping a couple past the square leg umpire early in the over before adding a single to fine leg to keep the strike. The lead is 322.
40th over: India 124-6 (Kohli 29, Ashwin 11) I love Ben Foakes’ Essex accent, chatting away at Leach, who gets another go. And despite beating the edge of Kohli early in the over, he quickly is back down the other end, turning the strike over. Ashwin then does as you would expect, lifting the tweaker over midwicket for three. It would have been four if not for Broad, who makes a diving stop on the line. He’s so committed to the task that he tears his trousers on the knee.
39th over: India 120-6 (Kohli 28, Ashwin 8) Captain to captain with Root introducing himself into the attack for the first time in this second innings. Around the wicket, he gets plenty of purchase from the get-go but Kohli adjusts nicely, taking one to midwicket. Ashwin takes a good look, defending the rest of the over. Broad is yet to bowl in this innings, it’s worth noting, with Stone sending just two down.
38th over: India 119-6 (Kohli 27, Ashwin 8) Leach to continue and Kohli is all over him when dropping short, slamming him away through cover for another boundary – his fourth. Leach re-finds his groove straight away but he looks tired now. Time for… Stuart Broad? I can see that working with his range of cutters and so on.
37th over: India 114-6 (Kohli 22, Ashwin 8) A fantastic response to local hero Ashwin as he walks out to the middle, and an even bigger roar in the crowd when he sweeps Moeen for four! Shot! And now a reverse! That’s less elegant, a top edge that could have gone to hand, but he gets himself four more. This should be a fun little period.
WICKET! Axar lbw b Moeen 7 (India 106-6)
No inside edge there, that’s hitting enough of middle stump for the call to go with Moeen. That was the one that didn’t spin, Axar done on the inside edge. England have taken five wickets in the session.
36th over: India 106-5 (Kohli 22, Axar 7) Kohli pushes the lead beyond 300 with a whip through square leg, taking full advantage of a rare Leach full toss. That’s reward for patience – he’s been superb.
35th over: India 102-5 (Kohli 18, Axar 7) Goodness me, can you turn a ball further than square? I suppose it is, now that I think about it for more than one second. And Moeen is doing just that, away from Axar from around the wicket, beating his edge by a mile with one that explodes early in his fresh over. But once again, the left-hander picks the length well later on, rocking back to clip with control through midwicket for four, bringing up India’s 100 in the process.
34th over: India 98-5 (Kohli 18, Axar 3) Axar is looking good early on, defending Leach fairly easily then easing a single off his pads.
“Possible late night in San Francisco!” says Ian Jefferson. “Oooh, I might stay up for this one. It’s a holiday in The US tomorrow.”
I still think the most likely scenario is this Test finishing today.
“First up birthday wishes for your daughter,” says Abhi Saxena. Thank you! It was a very special day. “Got to know about it on your engaging podcast with the curly Lemon (sorry couldn’t resist, but his lustrous curls remind me of the expert citrus peelers..). On another note, it is good to see that England have not pre-emptively assumed that a rank turner means that they will lose. I didn’t like the fields they were setting in first innings. On a pitch like this spin becomes the seam and seam the spin ie. you need to attack with spin and defend with seam. England were very passive and loose with spin on the first day, giving Indian batsman a loose ball every other over. Now they are bowling much more as an attacking unit and reaping rewards. Also England will do well to not allow Kohli to get in his stride, he is a bit like Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, they need to ensure that his heavy metal play is either kept at bay or used against him, as he tends to get rash at times. Otherwise, this series is going to be a very long one for England, as good as Root is he can’t make up runs to counter Rohit, Kohli and Pant single handedly.”
Well summed up. I think on day one, it took everyone a bit by surprise that the track was turning and Rohit was exploding. They got their act together but it was all a bit too late.
33rd over: India 97-5 (Kohli 18, Axar 2) Axar plays Moeen nicely with soft hands behind point for one and Kohli defends the rest. Drinks! Another eventful session; this Test is being played in fast-forward.
32nd over: India 96-5 (Kohli 18, Axar 1) Kohli through the gears now, carving away a short ball from Leach for three then – when getting a chance again later in the over after Axar gets off the mark to mid-on – jumping on a half-volley, hammering his straight drive for four.
“Hi Adam.” Hello, Spencer Francis. “I know it’s been said enough times, but it’s a travesty that Foakes is not a certain starter. It’s not just his keeping (best in the world I reckon), but also his general demeanor and attitude. Let’s just hope England don’t treat him like Pakistan treated Fawad Alam.”
This performance will turn heads. There’s obviously room for Jos as a batsman alone in this team. I can see it happening for the Ashes.
31st over: India 86-5 (Kohli 9, Axar 0) Axar gets through the successful Moeen over, defending confidently to finish. England have snared 4/32 so far this morning, making India’s lead 281.
WICKET! Rahane c Pope b Moeen 10 (India 86-5)
Four wickets in 50 minutes! And it’s Moeen into the book this time, turning big back at Rahane, who was cramped up after advancing down the pitch. His inside edge jumped up to the diving Pope under the lid at short leg who made no mistake. He’s very good in there.
30th over: India 86-4 (Kohli 9, Rahane 10) Another boundary, Kohli this time riding the bounce and steering through about second slip. No concerns with the control there – fine batting from the captain.
29th over: India 82-4 (Kohli 5, Rahane 10) That helps to settle things down just a tad for India, Rahane helping a Moeen full toss down the ground for four then backing it up with another boundary, putting away a half-tracker. The first poor over of the session for England. Doubly frustrating given he nearly cut the vice-captain in half earlier in the set with a delivery that spun as sharply as any we’ve seen.
28th over: India 74-4 (Kohli 5, Rahane 2) Leach to Kohli, so close to a fourth wicket! The Indian captain advances and drives but doesn’t quite get to the pitch, nearly giving a chance to Burns at catching cover. It clipped his fingers on the way through; a half chance.
27th over: India 69-4 (Kohli 2, Rahane 0) Under edge, four. Via Foakes’ pads, and given leg byes, but I reckon Kohli had plenty of bat on that jagging Moeen delivery. Extraordinary turn, ball after ball.
26th over: India 65-4 (Kohli 2, Rahane 0) So close to two in the over for Leach! Rahane beaten to begin outside the off-stump and then, to finish, goes back to cut but the ball got caught in the surface, bouncing higher than he anticipated. It sliced away towards Stone who was a foot away from being able to reach it diving forward.
“Good afternoon Adam!” And to you, Kumar G Vishwanath. “This is Kumar from freezing Winnipeg again! Following you on OBO Hoping to see India to come good and set a good target! Do you reckon England have fight in them to make it a game? Take care and stay safe.”
Thanks, and you too. In reality, I can’t see how any team in the world could make 300 in the final innings against Ashwin on this surface other than maybe India themselves, but that’s not how it works.
WICKET! Pant st Foakes b Leach 8 (India 65-4)
Brilliant wicketkeeping! Pant danced and missed, Leach went through the gate, and Foakes had the presence of mind to hold his shape and take the ball outside the leg stump line and get the bails.
25th over: India 61-3 (Kohli 2, Pant 4) Sjarp running from Pant with one to cover, giving the strike back to Kohli… who is off his pair with a couple to fine leg. The crowd go up as one – their guy is away.
24th over: India 58-3 (Kohli 0, Pant 3) Huge turn from Leach to Kohli, giving the Indian skipper nothing, He goes past the outside edge with one that jags. The Indian No1 has faced 16 balls so far.
23rd over: India 58-3 (Kohli 0, Pant 3) Pant top edges a full toss from Moeen, nearly creating something else from nothing for England. Not to be, he returns for a second run. The lead is 253. I’m fairly certain India could declare now with plenty of runs to play with, however, they will tell themselves that 320 (let’s say) is gettable.
22nd over: India 56-3 (Kohli 0, Pant 1) Two new batsmen yet to score, the fresher of the pair Rishabh Pant who we know will take Leach on in no time at all. That was just about unplayable from Leach to Rohit, watching the replay – he had to play from the leg stump line, it just turned and bounced too much. Pant is off the mark past point. Kohli’s turn, who is watchful and careful. Understandably so given he’s livin’ in a pair for the time being.
WICKET! Rohit st Foakes b Leach 26 (India 55-3)
Yep, that’s out – excellent from Foakes, celebrating his 28th birthday today with a fine stumping. Leach did the job beating the bat but the Surrey man had to get the ball down from his chest and did so quickly enough that Rohit didn’t have time to straighten his foot.
21st over: India 55-2 (Rohit 26, Kohli 0) Kohli, batting in a helmet this time around after Moeen skittled him in the first dig wearing a cap, is well forward defending, so much so that he has to wear one in the tummy after the tweaker gets one to bounce. A maiden.
20th over: India 55-2 (Rohit 26, Kohli 0) A huge roar at the fall of the Pujara wicket because it means Kohli, on a pair, is walking to the middle. We’ll have to wait for that though, with Leach and Rohit acquainting themselves first, a maiden played out safely. On telly, Sunny Gavaskar makes a funny saying that Pujara’s dismissal is one where you can blame the pitch because his bat got stuck.
WICKET! Pujara run out [Pope/Foakes] 7. (India 55-2)
What an odd dismissal! Pujara did as he does so well, dancing and defending Moeen into the legside, but when throwing his bat back to make his ground, it got stuck on the crease and fell to the turf. That gave Foakes enough time to whip the bails off with the Indian number three just unable to get his foot over the line.
19th over: India 55-2 (Rohit 26) The lead advanced to 250 from the first ball of the morning, Rohit turning a single around the corner.
The players are on the field. Moeen Ali to begin for England, bouncing in at Rohit Sharma (25) with Cheteshwar Pujara (7) down the other end. India are resuming at 54/1; a lead of 249. PLAY!
The TV coverage has started. The programme begins with the tired old golf bit about the third day of a Test being moving day – not so relevant today, I don’t think. The pitch report: dry as dry can be.
“Morning Adam!” Hello, Abhijato Sensarma. Afternoon here again, it must be said. This week you find me in Sydney, where I accidentally managed to be when Melbourne locked down on Friday. However, I’m on a plane back to London next Monday. Eeek! “It’s another morning, another day, and another session in this thrilling Test – can we also see another Rohit masterclass today? I’m hedging my bets on it. He’s unparalleled in the modern era in terms of batting at home. And he’ll fancy his chances of pushing that average of 88.50 upwards against an underwhelming bowling attack! Ooof, what a player.”
A home average of 89 and an away mark of 27. Extraordinary.
Ali Martin on Ashwin’s latest bag. His 29th 5-for in 76 Tests.
If it walks like a three-day Test and it quacks like a three-day Test, well, you get the picture. That’s the grim starting point for England as they begin the third morning at Chennai some 249 runs in arrears with nine wickets still to snare in India’s second innings after the hosts put on a masterclass yesterday, skittling the visitors for 134.
With the pitch playing like a fourth day surface on the opening afternoon, since then offering more assistance by the session to the tweakers, there is a big opportunity for Jack Leach and Moeen Ali (and Joe Root) to make a real menace of themselves here. Much as it was with Ashwin in the First Test when India were well behind the game in the third innings, they can use this opportunity to bowl themselves into the heads of the Indian batsmen before moving to Ahmenabad for the remainder of the series. That’s not for nothing.
Nor is it that Rohit Sharma has every chance to push on and collect himself another big score after his priceless 161 on Saturday – surely the innings that will define this Test Match. Yes, he was a lucky man to get off the hook on an lbw shout before the close yesterday, but he’ll be there facing the first ball this morning on 25 not out.
Okay, how about I hit the big button and we can begin our conversation? Have you still set your early alarm despite the situation England find themselves in? If so, explain yourself. I’ll pick up your emails from the usual place, or tweet me if you prefer.