Welcome to day one of our live report of the second India-England Test from Chennai. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here
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Stumps – India 300 for 6 (Rohit Sharma 161, Rahane 67) vs England
A majestic innings in capricious conditions from India opener Rohit Sharma gave the hosts a strong platform at the outset of the second Chennai Test. Rohit counterattacked during a harum-scarum morning session and then settled in to grind England into the dry, cracked clay of the MA Chidambaram Stadium, converting his fourth Test hundred as an opener into a dominant 161.
After Virat Kohli had voiced his dissatisfaction with the pitch produced at Chepauk for the first Test against England, it was no surprise to see the ball turn and spit for the spinners on day one of the rematch. Kohli himself was done in by it, bowled for a fifth-ball duck by the returning Moeen Ali before lunch. But that was the high point of the day for Moeen and England, as Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane produced a bustling partnership that threatened to be decisive even at such an early stage.
England claimed three early wickets – including one for Olly Stone with his third ball on only his second Test appearance – but were effectively shut out by Rohit and Rahane during the afternoon session, despite regular half-chances coming and going. Again Joe Root was left to rue a lack of control from his spinners: Jack Leach was the more consistent, asking questions throughout the day, while Moeen went at more than four an over, despite picking up the wickets of Kohli and Rahane.
Rohit rode his luck at times, gloving Leach short of slip on 41 and enduring some nervy moments against Moeen in the 90s, but he picked his moments to attack with judicious care to ensure that India would not squander their advantage after winning the toss. He skipped along briskly during the early exchanges, scoring 80 from 78 balls before lunch, and kept England toiling long into the day. Such was his dominance that he was visibly frustrated after slog-sweeping Leach to deep backward square leg, having scored almost exactly two-thirds of his side’s 248 for 4.
More to follow
4.45pm: England inroads
The debate about the umpiring in this Test will doubtless rumble on, with Rishabh Pant surviving on review after being given out caught behind, immediately after hitting Moeen Ali for a couple more boundaries. But England are quietly making inroads with the old ball, with Joe Root’s round-arm offbreaks accounting for R Ashwin, caught at short leg, leaving India six down. This should still be a very handy first-innings score on a pitch that has offered turn for the spinners throughout, and the game is moving forward at some pace.
Enjoy this while you can, it is going to be over inside three days. #INDvENG
— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) February 13, 2021
4.35pm: Pant vs Leach – Round II
Here we go again! Jack Leach probably isn’t ever going to earn an IPL contract, but he’s being given another taste of what it’s like to be tonked around a stadium – this time complete with baying Indian crowd. Having just walked out, and seeing a couple from offspinner Moeen Ali fizz, Rishabh Pant decided to, well, just play his natural game, really. His first ball from Leach was short and cut for four, and then his fifth disappeared over long-on. This game is moving on!
4.30pm: Vote! Vote! Vote!
4.15pm: DRS fail
England have their fifth wicket of the day, but not after a moment of umpiring controversy. The incident came in the 75th over, with Ajinkya Rahane on 66, as England reviewed for a catch at short leg. But the third umpire, Anil Chaudhary, did not wind the replay through fully after using the technology to determine there had been no inside edge – meaning that a deflection off the glove as the ball ballooned up to Ollie Pope was not checked for. Joe Root could be seen gesturing to Virender Sharma that England felt it had come off the glove after hitting the pad and sure enough, after England’s review had been struck down and Rahane allowed to continue, the host broadcaster then showed a replay that confirmed he should have been given out. A few balls later, Rahane was going, bowled sweeping at Moeen, and England then had their review reinstated… but that might not be the last we hear of it.
3rd (class) umpire?
— George Dobell (@GeorgeDobell1) February 13, 2021
3.55pm: Rohit holes out
A wicket! A wicket had fallen on this complete
minefield road! England thought they might have had Rohit in Leach’s previous over, when a smart bit of work from Ben Foakes saw the back foot balanced precariously on the crease (or just over, in the view of third umpire, Anil Chaudhary). But there’s no doubt this time, as a slog-sweep picks out deep backward square. Rohit signals his frustration, swishing his bat and throwing back his head – he was having fun out there. Leach breaks the partnership at 162, but India still well placed.
3.35pm: 150 for Rohit
Who’s the daddy? On this day, on this pitch, no doubt that it’s India’s opener. This is Rohit’s fourth Test score above 150 – and he’s only once been dismissed for fewer after reaching three figures. England aren’t all that far from the second new ball, but they are flagging in the afternoon heat here.
3.30pm: In the dirt
Without trying to state the obvious, England need a wicket. Urgently.#INDvENG
— Ian Bell (@Ian_Bell) February 13, 2021
Belly’s not wrong… This stand is swelling towards the 150 mark, and Joe Root has brought himself on to bowl as the Chennai crowd, who love their cinema, settle in for the Roh-Rah matinee.
3.15pm: India’s approach on a turner
Psst. Two of ESPNcricinfo’s sharpest minds, Nagraj Gollapudi and Shiva Jayaraman, are having a chat about this Rohit-Rahane partnership down in the stats bunker. Come on, let’s listen in…
Nagraj: The bounce is still very good. I was told it would be firm in the centre and dust will be on the fuller length. Will become difficult from the third session, but have enjoyed the way both Rohit and Rahane have mostly done well by stepping out and playing off back foot – something so key to playing spin on such pitches, other than sweeping
Shiva: Yeah, the head has to go all over the place for a batsman to play sweep IMHO. You have to gauge the dip while the head is going down, which is more difficult; not a percentage shot in my opinion, especially for tall batsmen. That’s why Root playing it so well is amazing.
Nagraj: True. But what Root had in his favour in the first two days of the first Test was the ball was not spinning on a flat surface, so unless the spinner was doing it in the air, which barring Ashwin to an extent, Nadeem couldn’t. So Root just had to pick the right line, and sweep. The sweep to me has always been to take the rough out of the equation, so it is a weapon used judiciously.
Shiva: True. But those with dip are harder to sweep I feel. Length is very tough to judge.
Nagraj: Yes, definitely, especially on this pitch. Like the one Rohit tried in the 90s. He tried paddling, but that was premeditated.
Shiva: Take Jadeja for example – bowl arrows, doesn’t get dip. He must be easier to sweep, as against Leach.
Nagraj: Yes, correct. You can verify that with numbers.
Shiva: Two wickets at 72.00 for Jadeja against batsman sweeping, according to ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball data; Leach has 10 at 27.40.
Nagraj: Rahane has played a few sweeps – how many compared to Rohit?
Shiva: Rahane: four sweeps, three singles today. Rohit has five fours and 24 runs from 12 sweep shots.
Nagraj: So while Rahane has used it to rotate strike, Rohit, at least early on, used it as an attacking shot. In fact, the way Kohli dealt with the drift from Moeen and the way Rohit swept or charged the spinners portrays when the batsman struggles and how he can be in command.
Shiva: You thought it drifted that much? Again, I feel that the spectacle of the dismissal and the quality of batsman is playing on our mind. Bess’ was a better ball first Test. Dipped a whole lot more, whereas, Kohli would’ve hit the ball here if it hadn’t spun that much.
Nagraj: Yes, but this was well flighted, outside off, and had drift, causing Kohli to move into play. But he messed it up as he is not usually a good player of spin from the crease, for me.
Shiva: Kohli doesn’t like to leave the crease.
Nagraj: Yes, he is not confident. And that is because he has not played domestic cricket so much.
Nagraj: Which both Rohit and Rahane have and understand better what works. Hence Kohli never learned the sweep, does not come naturally and struggles to read spin.
2.58pm: Half-century for Rahane
Clipped through mid-on, hustle the one, and that’s Ajinkya Rahane’s half-century – a fine, fighting knock in tough conditions, after coming into the match with a few question marks over his batting. It’s the first time he’s reached 50 since that pivotal innings at the MCG in December, and only his second half-century in 15 Test innings going back to 2019. That over from Moeen demonstrated some of the difficulties he had had to negotiate, with one ball stopping as he flicked towards midwicket and another ripping back from a length past an attempted cut. But he has kept his composure, reset after every testing moment, and carried the fight for India.
2.35pm: Spotlight on Moeen
He arguably bowled the ball of the day (certainly if measured by its outcome) to dismiss Virat Kohli during the morning session, but it’s been a bit of a mixed bag from Moeen Ali so far on his Test comeback. With Moeen beginning a new spell after tea from the Anna Pavilion End, as England search for a way of separating this India pair, here’s George Dobell on how his day has gone:
You had to laugh when Moeen Ali started with a full-toss. Brought in to replace Dom Bess, who bowled a truckload of them in the first Test, Moeen’s first ball continued an unwelcome trend among England’s offspinners.
He settled in pretty quickly after that, though. He’s certainly gaining some drift and dip, which means he’s threatening both sides of the bat. And the ball which dismissed Virat, drawing him wide and turning sharply to beat the drive, was a thing of beauty. It wasn’t just the batsman who couldn’t believe what had happened: the umpire called for a review.
In a perfect world, he would have liked to string a few maidens together; a run rate of 4.66 an over in what may be a low scoring game is a worry. But while there have been an annoying couple of short balls in there, which have been cut away comfortably, the majority of that run rate is due to an outstanding innings from Rohit Sharma. The sweeps, the six over long-off… that’s just good batting. You wonder if we’ve already seen the defining innings of this match.
So, in an ideal world, England would have liked their offspinner to provide more control. But when your offspinner hasn’t played a first-class game for five-months… well, you probably have to be a bit realistic with your expectations. Decent start, I think.
India 189 for 3 (Rohit 132*, Rahane 36*) vs England
Rohit Sharma‘s unbeaten hundred led India towards a position of strength at tea on the first day in Chennai. After signs that the Chepauk track would deteriorate much more quickly than in the first Test, Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane played with composure, and a little luck, to take the hosts through a wicketless session and keep England at bay.
Having scored at more than a run a ball during the morning session, Rohit settled down – as did the pitch – to bring up his seventh Test hundred shortly after the midpoint of the day, from 130 balls. There were a couple of nervous moments against Moeen Ali in the 90s, but he eventually got to the landmark with a paddled sweep, a shot which was a feature of his innings, and continued to contribute more than two-third of India’s runs.
Joe Root rotated his bowlers in search of a breakthrough but, with turn still on offer, only Leach came close to adding to the three wickets England claimed during the morning. He was able to unsettle Rohit on occasion and found Rahane’s outside edge in the over before tea only for the ball to die in front of slip.
2pm: India take charge
Whether it’s the pitch being brought heel by Rohit and Rahane, or the older, softer ball making life more comfortable, India are cruising towards the tea break. Having replaced Dom Bess in order to bring more experience and control to England’s spin-bowling department, Moeen Ali has continued to struggle for consistency, despite a switch of ends, going at more than four-and-half an over. Rohit has used the sweep – a shot India barely played in the first Test – judiciously against him, scoring 49 off 51 balls faced, while Rahane has been largely content to work singles. Leach has continued to ask questions, but Rohit cut him for a couple to bring up the 100 stand with 10 minutes to go until tea.
1.40pm: Rohit’s all-round game
Shiva Jayaraman writes: The likes of Virat Kohli, Babar Azam, David Warner and Kane Williamson have built a reputation of being all-format batsmen in the last few years. While Kohli and Azam rank among the ICC’s top ten batsmen in all three formats, Warner and Williamson currently rank among the top ten in Tests and ODIs. Rohit Sharma ranks in the top ten in only ODIs. He ranks outside the top 20 in Tests and is 14th in T20Is.
However, he has numbers to back his claim to be counted amongst the elite all-format batsmen based on his recent performance. This is Sharma’s 19th hundred in 106 innings in international cricket since 2018. No other batsman has hit more hundreds in that period and none of them has got multiple hundreds in all three formats like he has.
Sharma has made 19 hundreds in 106 innings in international cricket since 2018 (four Test centuries in 21 innings, 13 in 49 innings in ODIs and two in 36 T20I innings). In comparison Kohli has 18 hundreds in 120 international innings (no hundreds in T20Is), and Azam ten in 103 innings (no hundreds in T20Is) during this period. Warner is the only one among the four mentioned above to hit a century in all three formats like Sharma since 2018.
1.30pm: Pitch forks out?
The action has quietened down since lunch, but our experts were pretty damning after their first look at the surface for the second Test in Chennai.
Sanjay Manjrekar: “When you have the pitch exploding in the first of 25-30 minutes of the Test match, you’ve got to say that’s a very, very poor pitch, it’s substandard. If you want Test-standard performances then you’ve got to have Test-standard pitches as well. This is by no stretch of the imagination anywhere close to being a Test pitch.”
Ian Bell: “I have some sympathy in terms of [limited preparation] but I agree you don’t want to see the ball turning and bouncing like it has done so far. It doesn’t look to me as if this could go five days, if the course of the action goes on the same in the next session and the ones to follow today. Let’s see how both teams bat on it, but at the moment it doesn’t look to be a great wicket.”
1.20pm: Hundred up for Rohit
Rohit Sharma delights the Chennai crowd with an incredible !
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) February 13, 2021
This time the paddle sweep does the job, scooped over his left shoulder to bring up a high-class century from 130 balls. Nice to hear the applause of the crowd for that effort… and not for the first time today Rohit’s wife is picked out by the TV cameras. He’s scored more than two-thirds of India’s runs so far (101 out of 148) and is right up there in Bannerman territory.
1.15pm: Rohit in the 90s
Having bedded down since the break, Rohit Sharma is within touching distance of a seventh Test hundred at drinks, having just played out a maiden over from Stuart Broad. A drilled six over long-off against Moeen Ali a couple of overs before had taken him to 97, but he then experienced a couple of nervy moments against England’s offspinner: a skip down the track was dragged to the leg side, and then his attempt to paddle sweep saw the ball pop up off the toe of the bat, but land short of midwicket. In that hour, he has scored 18 off 51 balls, having had a strike rate above 100 during the morning.
12.50pm: Battle is met
Far more watchful from the India pair after 40 minutes of the afternoon session. Ajinkya Rahane stroked a couple of pristine boundaries off Olly Stone – one off the back foot, one leaning forwards – and Rohit has rolled out the sweep once again to Moeen, but there haven’t been too many dramas. Leach has found a nice groove, and did entice Rohit into a forcing shot that went high and plugged out towards the cover boundary – since lunch, notes our stats man Shiva Jayaraman, Rohit has scored 3 off 20 balls (and two came from playing a false shot); before lunch, he had 18 off 32 from Leach, with three fours.
12.25pm: Surface tension
Sidharth Monga writes: Puffs of dust and the odd explosion off the surface, and it is natural we are talking about the pitch. While it is hazardous to judge a pitch until both teams have batted, it doesn’t seem as extreme as Nagpur 2015-16. Might this be closer to Pune 2016-17? We will know soon.
It is worth noting that India haven’t rolled out such a pitch since Pune. I have always believed such a pitch once or twice a season is great entertainment, so once in four years is hardly anything to complain about. It’s interesting to see when India opt for such a surface. Pune was the ninth Test of the season for India. This is the sixth Test but add the IPL and the limited-overs leg of the Australia tour just before this. Add Ravindra Jadeja’s absence. Add the defeat in the first Test.
So despite still holding a better spin attack, India have gone for what might seem a desperate gambit. The risk of playing on such a pitch is that you bring less-excellent bowlers into play because the pitch assists them unreasonably. While the toss is crucial on both the Chennai tracks we have seen, I suspect the Indian team believes it can – given its resources right now – overturn the toss disadvantage on this surface more than the one last week. Also winning the toss on that pitch doesn’t rule out a draw, which India can ill afford given the WTC final scenarios.
Having said that, it doesn’t take away from the importance of the toss on such a surface. It is not difficult to imagine India watching on nervously as Virat Kohli went for the toss. And after winning the toss, Rohit Sharma has played the perfect hand you need on such surfaces. Runs in the first innings are extremely crucial, and more so before it gets into the unplayable category. Rohit has been positive without being reckless, he has picked his areas, he has played the sweep (which is not the only way to play spin, but if you do it well, you annoy the bowlers a lot), and he has put the bowlers under pressure. He went at a healthy strike rate even before he got some loose balls from Moeen Ali.
Eighty off 78 in a score of 106 for 3 is an absolute gamechanger. If what has happened at the other end is any indicator of how the batting is likely to go, this might well be a match-winning innings.
12.15pm: Plenty to chew on
Back underway in Chennai, with Jack Leach resuming his little battle with Rohit Sharma. Why not catch up with what the Match Day boys had to say during lunch while we settle in again?
India 106 for 3 (Rohit 80*, Rahane 5*) vs England
A sparkling innings from Rohit Sharma held India together during a harum-scarum first session on day one of the second Test in Chennai. The India opener rattled off an unbeaten 80 from 78 balls, an innings full of aggressive intent on what appeared to be a dicey Chepauk surface, as England claimed three wickets – including that of Virat Kohli for a five-ball duck, bowled through the gate by Moeen Ali on the latter’s comeback to Test cricket.
England, whose attack featured three changes from the one that bowled them to victory in the first Test, made a good start after losing the toss, with Olly Stone claiming a wicket with his third ball of the morning, Shubman Gill pinned lbw offering no shot. Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara then played positively during an 85-run partnership at more than four an over, with the former latching on anytime England’s bowlers missed their lengths. Rohit hooked Ben Stokes for six, twice swept Jack Leach for fours to bring up a 47-ball fifty and drilled another boundary to long-on to take India to 100 shortly before the break.
There were early signs of turn and the ball disturbing the surface, though, and it was Leach who broke the second-wicket stand when Pujara tamely steered to slip. That brought cheers from the crowd, with Chepauk back at 50% capacity for this game, as Kohli walked out to bat – but they were silenced a few moments later when Moeen tossed up an inviting delivery that ragged back inside Kohli’s expansive drive to ping the off bail.
11.25am: Kohli moly
That Kohli wicket – and his reaction – has already got plenty of people talking, griping and gawping…
Art Artist pic.twitter.com/0gxquM3dxy
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) February 13, 2021
It was a very good ball from Moeen, but not as good as the one Vaughan bowled Tendulkar with. When Kohli watches the replay, he might not be happy with the stroke he played
— Sambit Bal (@sambitbal) February 13, 2021
— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) February 13, 2021
11.14am: …and Moeen bowls Kohli!
Kohli is dumbfounded, but he’s been knocked over for a fifth-ball duck by Moeen Ali! Silence at Chepauk, and Kohli needs convincing that he’s been done through the gate by a big-turning offie, hanging around as the umpires check the replays (which quickly confirm that the ball crashed into the off bail). Huge blow, thought somewhat self-inflicted, as Kohli aimed a booming cover drive that turned sharply from wide of off stump. Moeen, celebrating his first wicket since getting Tim Paine at Edgbaston in 2019, was off immediately towards cover, arm raised in celebration. Only the fourth time Kohli has been bowled by a spinner in Tests.
Virat wants DRS for the bowled; aka Gatting’s reaction had it existed in 1993 #INDvENG
— Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) February 13, 2021
11.10am: Leach extracts Puj
Cheers around the ground, because
England have taken their second wicket Virat Kohli is walking to the middle! Slightly strange shot from Pujara, dabbing late at a turning delivery in the channel outside off and steering it straight to slip. England get some succour after a tough hour or so.
11am: Mo show
Moeen Ali is back in England’s Test team for the first time since the 2019 Ashes, and England will be hoping that he can bring the experience of his 60 caps to bear after replacing Dom Bess. His first ball was a full toss (the crime for which Dom Bess was dropped) and there have been one or two four balls, mixed in with some nicely flighted fare, in his opening spell so far. The India run rate is hovering around four an over, and England need to tighten up.
10.45am: Fifty for Rohit
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) February 13, 2021
Two Leach full tosses dispatched for hard-swept fours and Rohit Sharma has a 47-ball half-century for the Chepauk crowd to lap up. Virat Kohli said previously that his team know how to play in these conditions and Rohit is providing proof of that, making light of any encouragement for the bowlers by taking them on whenever an opportunity arises. Leach did get one to turn and bounce to take the glove when Rohit had 41, but it didn’t quite carry to Stokes at slip. With spin at both ends, after the introduction of the returning Moeen Ali, this could be an entertaining passage of play.
10.30am: Polished Stone, Rohits the spot
Olly Stone has only played one first-class match since his Test debut in 2019, but his opening spell on his return to England whites could barely have gone better. Wicket from his third ball, Pujara hurried and hit, pace up to 150kph/92mph, figures of 4-2-8-1. He provided both wicket-taking threat and economy, even as Rohit was latching on to anything overpitched by Broad at the other end. England’s opening pair stuck diligently to their lines and when Stone did finally deliver a short, wide ball that Rohit cut to the boundary in his fourth over, it was the first ball not pitching outside off or within the stumps, according to ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball data (41 outside off, 6 within the stumps). Rohit, meanwhile, has looked to be positive at every opportunity, hooking Ben Stokes for six and scoring 41 out of India’s 48 for 1 after the first hour.
10.15am: Make your pitch
Early signs that this Chepauk deck is going to give a little more comfort to the bowlers, with puffs of dust and the ball stopping in the surface. Rohit, having stroked a couple of classy boundaries off Broad, saw one checked drive loop up and over mid-on, while Stone hit Cheteshwar Pujara on the hand with a well-directed short ball – more punches for Puj to absorb. Jack Leach then saw his first ball go through the top, and England lost a review in the same over after a leg-side lbw shout against Rohit. Plenty going on so far, and you can see whether that tallies with what our Match Day team were expecting before the start.
9.45am: Stone’s perfect start
Much debate about England’s policy of rotating their bowlers throughout this six-Test tour of the subcontinent, but a fresh new-ball pair of Stuart Broad and Olly Stone started right on the money. After Broad’s maiden to Rohit Sharma, Stone then claimed his first Test wicket since July 2019 with his third ball of the morning, as Shubman Gill padded up to one that would have toppled off stump. An easy decision for the umpire, as our own Andrew Miller called it:
Stone dead #INDvENG
— Andrew Miller (@miller_cricket) February 13, 2021
9.30am: Let’s play!
What a moment for @akshar2026
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) February 13, 2021
Here’s Axar Patel getting his cap on debut. He’ll now be hoping to put his feet up and leave his bowling boots in the changing room for the rest of the day… Time to get going out at Chepauk, where the crowds are back and Rohit Sharma is facing up to Broad, headband in place, with the new ball. Three slips and a gully watching on.
9.20am: Rotation situation
England, of course, have made four changes to a winning team, partly due to injury but also because of preconceived plans about rest and rotation. Here’s Stuart Broad, back in the side in place of James Anderson, on his preparation having sat out the last two Tests: “[It’s gone] as well as can be expected, it’s been nearly a month since I had any form of match practice, but you’ve got to get what you can get in nets but that’s just part of the current situation we’re in. We saw how well the India bowlers came out in Australia after not much match practice and we’re in a similar boat today but we’ve had great facilities to train on, get the full run-up in the nets and I feel as ready as can be. It is quite hard to replicate match conditions in the nets, you just have to try and up your intensity as much as you can. That’s where experience [comes in], I’ve played a lot of cricket, I can fall back on knowledge and feel calm at the crease knowing that I’ve been there before.”
9am: India win the toss, make three changes
Plenty of changes for both teams from their first Test!
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) February 13, 2021
Hello and welcome to Chennai II: Payback. That, at least, is the script Virat Kohli is working from – and having won the toss and chosen to bat, his side should get to dictate terms on what is expected to be a much livelier track. India have given a debut to Axar Patel, whose absence through injury last week had a knock-on effect for the rest of the XI. With Patel fit, they have recalled Kuldeep Yadav for the first time in two years, while Mohammed Siraj replaces Jasprit Bumrah, who is rested after bowling 42 overs in his first Test on home soil. England had named their XII on the eve of the match, with Stuart Broad, Ben Foakes and Moeen Ali all coming in. The final spot came down to Olly Stone’s pace versus the experience (and batting) of Chris Woakes, with Stone getting the nod. He’ll play his second Test, having debuted against Ireland at Lord’s in 2019.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
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