2nd Test, Day 2: Root, Burns keep England in game after India squander hard-earned advantage

Mayank Kumar

| Aug 13, 6:54 PM

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India were in such a good position at the end of the first day’s play that they needed to have a disastrous first session on the second day to give England a sizable opportunity. On cue, they were at it with wickets falling in heap in the first couple of overs of the day itself.

The hosts, however, could stop the belligerence of Rishabh Pant and control of Ravindra Jadeja from taking India to an above-par score in the first innings. 

Later, England’s batsmen could manage to see off the new ball without suffering damage right at the start. However, their stay at the crease could not get very long as Mohammed Siraj produced two consecutive wicket-taking deliveries to bring India back in the game.

Centurion of the last game, Joe Root steadied the ship along with Rory Burns, who looked assured around his off stump and batted fluently for is 49. England finished the day 118/3 with Root and Jonny Bairstow remaining unbeatne to keep the game in the balance.

Rahane’s jitteriness, Jadeja’s patience

After KL Rahul departed in the very first over of the day driving an Ollie Robinson’s half volley straight to cover, there were three men to steer India towards a formidable total in the first innings. 

One of them and India’s vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has not been at his best in the last few Tests although he got a decent 49 in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. 

On the last ball of the first day, he had attempted to drive full delivery from James Anderson in a move that establishes nothing but his restlessness at the crease and eagerness to put bat to ball. He was lucky last evening but it cost him his wicket on the very first ball of Anderson on the second day and India had both their unbeaten batsmen back in the pavilion in space of the first seven balls of the day.

India were thin in their batting after playing four quicks and it was now or never moment for Jadeja and Rishabh Pant if the side were to have a decent first innings total. Pant played in his usual belligerent style while Jadeja mimicked the control and preciseness of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul from the first day.

He knew that England needed to open one end up to get through to the tailenders and hence shut shop completely as Pant started dazzling England bowlers for runs.

He never played a short in anger before taking India to a respectable total and was the last man to be dismissed in search of quick runs while batting with the last man.

Siraj’s brilliant length, Kohli’s half-hearted review calls

India did not ask Mohammed Siraj to bowl with the new ball as Ishant Sharma over him and Mohammed Shami. However, the England openers were watchful and did not offer their wickets.

Kohli switched to Siraj only in the 13th over and he was at his best from the first over. The results came in the second over in the form of Dom Sibley, who has not been able to rectify his woefully messed technique at the crease and a returning Haseeb Hameed on consecutive deliveries.

He was getting a nice shape into the right-handers and due to the slowness of the pitch that was not allowing the edges to carry to the slips, he attacked the stumps. He found Root twice in front of the stumps but umpire Michael Gough did not agree on either occasion. 

Siraj has shown the tendency of getting over-excited and getting emotional with the flow of the game and the trend continued on the second day as he compelled Kohli to waste not one but two reviews. The grumpiness on Kohli after losing the second review showed that he is getting affected by those terrible review calls that he himself is signalling for.

Fluent Burns keep England in the game

Rory Burns was England’s Man of the Series against New Zealand that preceded the ongoing one against India. However, his inability to follow one good innings with another, and along with his partners’ struggle at the top has not made life easier for the left-hander.

However, on the day things were at stake for England in pursuit of matching India’s 364, Burns was back to his watchful and fluent best. He has been blamed for his idiosyncrasies at the crease but once again showed that none of his movements that have been deemed excessive by critics limits his stroke play on the leg side and control outside the off stump.

He fell on 49 while trying to nudge Shami off his legs but his calm and reassuring 49 would have helped in calming things down in the hosts’ dressing room after the initial fall of wickets.

Looking forward to the third day

The game hangs in balance but India have more advantages going into the third day as England batsmen except Root have not been at their best so far in the series. Bairstow looked good in the first Test but he is struggling to convert starts into big ones.

Moeen Ali will be back to playing in England after a long gap while Buttler too has had nervous moments so far in the series.

The first session on the second day offered most opportunities for the bowlers and India would be relying on their quartet of pacers to knock the hosts over quickly in the first innings.

For England, the onus will once again be on Root’s shoulder if they have to stand any chance of coming on par with India’s first innings total. If he fails early, India would be in with a huge chance to gain a significantly superior position in the game.

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