Reasons for England’s epic first Test victory over IndiaErik Schmidt |
While England’s Test match team have been looking increasingly promising over the past year, few people would have expected the side to enjoy such a comfortable win over India in Chennai. This saw the visitors claiming a famous victory by a remarkable 227 wins. But was it down to England’s superiority, or were India to blame for their own downfall?
The focal point of the game was undoubtedly Joe Root’s commanding 218 in the first innings. This ultimately set up the win by taking the first innings total up to 578, and there were also valuable contributions from Ben Stokes as well as a critical 87 from the relatively new opener Dom Sibley.
But much of the credit has to be given to the England bowlers James Anderson and Jack Leach. India had been given the tough task of reaching the world record target of 420 on the last day. But Anderson and Leach picked up bowling figures of 3-17 and 4-76 to bring India’ second innings total to just 192.
In particular, it was Anderson’s incredible bowling spell that saw him taking the wickets of Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane in the same over. This was swiftly followed up by getting the pivotal wicket of Rishabh Pant. Plus with a great 4-76 by Dom Bess in India’s first innings along with some important wickets for Jofra Archer, it showed that England’s bowlers are capable of producing some big results on a fairly unpromising pitch.
The sheer nature of the victory was hugely impressive. England were widely seen as being complete underdogs heading into this four-game Test series. Even by using this bookmaker comparison, cricket fans may have been unable to find a bookie who’d have been willing to put England down as being the favourites to win this game. But in the end, the visitors proved triumphant and recorded a famous win.
The idea of beating India on home soil initially seemed laughable. After all, this is Virat Kohli’s team who have only lost one of their last 35 home Tests. But India simply weren’t up for the challenge in Chennai.
Several key players like Ajinkya Rahane seemed to be struggling with form and Shahbaz Nadeem failed to have much of an impact with the bat or ball. Of course, this is India and there will always be plenty of positives to take from even the most underwhelming of games.
In particular Kohli put in a typically commanding batting display on the final day that threatened to take the game to a draw. Plus the spinner Ravichandran Ashwin once again showed that he is one of the best in the world thanks to his nine-wicket haul.
It’s also important to note that India have already shown that they are more than capable of overcoming even the largest setback. The recent Test series victory over Australia is a case in point. This saw India recording their lowest-ever total of just 36 runs in Test cricket, before producing a miraculous performance to claim the series by reaching a fourth-innings 329 run target.
All of which raises expectations of what will happen when the second Test takes place on 13 February. India will know that they have to put greater pressure on England. The team’s fielding was distinctly sub-par in the first Test, plus there will be much greater demands made from India’s bowlers.
England will be hoping to build on the confidence gained from the first Test. While the result made it 11-unbeaten Tests under the Root captaincy, there are still issues regarding the team’s batting line-up. Both Rory Burns and Dan Lawrence will have felt that they could have done better, and they’ll be desperate for another chance to prove themselves.
It all comes at a pivotal time for both teams. This summer will see the World Test Championship taking place, and England will have to win this series at least 3-1 in order to reach the final. The good news is that England have just claimed the top spot of the standings, but India will be desperate to redress the balance in the next Test match.