India’s spin bowlers exposed England batsmen’s frailties on pitches that aid turn more than usual. England’s mental fragility as well as their lack of skills were laid bare as slow bowlers Axar Patel and R Ashwin kept them under a tight leash with wicket-to-wicket line.
After their skipper Joe Root (5/8) and Jack Leach (4/54) had given them an opportunity to come back in the match, England batsmen approached their second innings like cat on a hot tin roof.
Patel picked two wickets in the very first over, on the first ball and the third ball. Zak Crawley was clueless about the length while Jonny Bairstow was bowled through the gate as he pre-meditated his defence to counter a turning delivery.
The India spinners, led by Patel bowled an immaculate line, not allowing runs that forced the English batsmen to make mistakes.
In the first Test, the second and the third spinners Shahbaz Nadeem and Wahsington Sundar allowed England to go scot-free although that surface was much better for batting.
“I wanted them to make mistakes and making things tough for them to score runs,” said Patel after the match.
“My strengths are bowling a wicket-to-wicket line. And the idea was not to give batsmen room. In today’s day and age, batsmen have a mindset of sweeping or playing over the top after a few maiden overs, so that’s (frustrate them by stopping flow of runs) what I try to do,” he added.
Ashwin, by trying to turn the ball initially in England’s second innings, struggled and gave away a few loose balls. But he got into the rhythm and bowled a tight line without trying to do anything extra just like Patel.
Ben Stokes, who was the only one among the top-order batsmen looking to dominate, fell into the same trap as he tried to play for the spin but the delivery that dismissed him went straight and trapped him leg before.
Captain Root too has struggled after his double in the first game.
“It was very difficult to start your innings. What you look at was the guys who got starts they could’ve made it count – myself the prime culprit there. Every run does really count and you have to take it and put yourself in a position of strength,” said Root after the match while lamenting his batsmen’s failures.
The visitors’ batting revolves completely on Root. Even in the two Tests in Sri Lanka and in the first Test in Chennai, it were his big scores that carried England to huge total. But with India bowlers frustrating him, things look gloomy for the entire England batting side.