Kolkata: The last time England turned the tables on India in the 2012 series under Alastair Cook, the wily James Anderson was a key character in leading the riot act. Now at a ripe old of 38, the man with the highest number of Test wickets for a fast bowler showed he hasn’t forgotten the art of reverse swing as he broke India’s back on the morning of final day at Chepauk Stadium to set up a thumping run win against the hosts.
He breached the defence of Ajinkya Rahane, Shubhman Gill and then got a leading edge from the in-form Rishabh Pant as India eventually fell for 192 - handing the visitors a 227-run win and take a psychological upperhand against Virat Kohli’s men for the rest of the series. The Indian captain, however, exhibited his class on a wearing fifth day wicket for a positive innings of 72 till he was bowled by Ben Stokes - a delivery which kept cruelly low with dust flying all around.
It was a completely authoritative performance by England, who made the most of a good toss to win to bat India out of the Test match - thanks to an epic 218 by captain Joe Root and then some disciplined performance by bowlers, namely spinners Jack Leach and Dom Bess. Leach perfectly complemented Anderson on the final day, finishing with figures of 26-4-76-4 to put the noose around the hosts.
A 1-0 lead in a four-Test series is not irreversible, as England had shown in that 2012 series and both teams now know what to expect when the second Test begins here in four days’ time. It will be a mircale if there is any improvement on the bounce and carry in the wicket and hence England’s pragmatic strategy to put a big total on the board once they won the toss would be the best recipe again.
‘‘I would not want to take away any credit from England,’’ said Kohli later, visibly disappointed with the behaviour of the wicket. ‘‘We need to improve on our body language in the second Test,’’ he said.
When India began the day at 39 for one, chasing 420 with Rohit Sharma already back in the pavilion, not too many people were expecting India to do another heist like in Brisbane and rather banked on them trying to save the day. The conditions were a lot different in Chennai and India were in all sorts of trouble by lunch itself with their scorecard reading 144/6.
India lost Cheteshwar Pujara early as he was caught in the slips against Leach, after scoring 15 runs off the 38 ball he faced. Shubman Gill and Kohli then shared a 34-run stand and tried to steady the Indian ship but Gill was bowled, courtesy a ripper from Anderson soon after reaching his half-century.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane once again failed to perform with the bat as he fell in the same over to one which came back late, thus leaving India in a precarious situation. Rishabh Pant, India’s batting hero in the first innings, came out with his flamboyant batting approach and scored 11 off 19 before he became the third scalp of Anderson.
Washington Sundar, who took India’s innings past the 300-mark in the first innings, also couldn’t stay long and got out for a duck against Bess.
Brief scores: England won by 227 runs.
India 337 and 192 all out (Shubman Gill 50, Virat Kohli 72; James Anderson 3/17, Jack Leach 4/76) vs England 578 and 178.