Live Report – India vs England, 1st Test, Chennai, 2nd day


Welcome to our live report of the second day of the first India-England Test from Chennai. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here

*Most recent entry will appear at the top, please refresh your page for the latest updates. All times are local.

3.30pm: 500 up

England have now made all three of the most recent 500+ totals against India in India, dating back to their series win in 2012. But they’ve got there in controversial fashion: India were convinced that Buttler had edged Washington Sundar through to Pant moments before drinks, but Anil Chaudhary thought otherwise, and they had used all three reviews. Predictably, Buttler then threaded the next ball through the covers to bring up the landmark. Ultra-Edge confirmed that he had indeed nicked it.

3.05pm: Root’s epic ends

A sniff for India? Root falls, lbw to Nadeem for 218, and the decision is upheld on review. All of a sudden, having looked certain to reach 600, England are in danger of failing to reach 500. And I’m sure readers won’t need reminding that last time these sides played in Chennai, England made 477 batting first and lost by an innings. Dom Bess is in at No. 8: he made a useful 32 in the second Galle Test last month and put on 126 with Buttler on debut back in 2018.

3.00pm: The Buttler dilemma

Ollie Pope falls after an uncharacteristically scratchy innings, though after a six-month break it is understandable that he might not feel like he’s in form. Ashwin trapped him lbw, and replays showed that the ball was hitting the top of middle-and-leg. Jos Buttler, in his 50th Test, is the new batsman at No. 7 and it will be intriguing to see how he plays the situation from here. He has previously explained that he has found it difficult to play with the “blank canvas” of Test cricket and has often been surprisingly sedate in this sort of situation with runs on the board. This is the only Test he’ll play in the series, so he’ll be keen to make an impact.

2.35pm: ICYMI – Stokes’ blitz

For the benefit of those readers in the UK – or anywhere, in fact – who slept through the first session of the day, Andrew Miller has been preparing some words on Ben Stokes’ shot-a-minute innings of 82. Here’s a sample:

For a few glorious overs, either side of an acceptable time to be waking up on a weekend in the UK, the 2019 BBC Sports Personality of the Year was just threatening to go loco once again – and give all of those disenfranchised voters of his, a rare chance to see him in full flow once more, back on the same rival terrestrial TV channel where so many of them would have witnessed his heroics in the World Cup final at Lord’s.

Alas, it wasn’t to be in the long term, and by approximately 7.20am GMT, Stokes had holed out to a juggling Cheteshwar Pujara at deep midwicket, causing a wave of the sort of early-morning disappointment more usually associated with the realisation that you’ve forgotten to buy any milk.

While it lasted, however, Stokes’ 82 from 118 balls was invaluable and calculated – a formidable display of mind over matter from a cricketer, lest we forget, who had not played a first-class innings in exactly six months, and whose absence from the Sri Lanka tour meant that he had been permitted just five days of post-quarantine acclimatisation for Chennai’s heat and humidity.

When compared to the exhaustive sang froid of Joe Root at the other end, there’d be a temptation to wonder why Stokes felt the need to get so rowdy so soon, particularly in light of Root’s bold assertion at the close of the first day, that England needed “600-700” to be competitive in this first innings, and maybe even bat all the way into the third day too – something that they haven’t managed since Lahore in 2000-01, when Graham Thorpe racked up a century containing just a solitary boundary.

And yet, there is a proven method in Stokes’ madness these days – not least against spin, for which his aggression has its foundations in a defence every bit as rock-solid as Root’s. The confidence of his stride to the pitch of the ball may contrast with Root’s predominantly back-foot approach, but there are few bats in world cricket that look broader at the point of impact than his.

But unlike Root, whose game is built around release shots – predominantly on the sweep – Stokes’ defence has a violent element of attack factored into it. That’s not to say it’s infallible, and for the first hour today (one pick-up for six aside) he was kept broadly in check by his most familiar Test nemesis, R Ashwin, who has dismissed him seven times in nine previous encounters, more than any other bowler, and had two other key moments again today, a flick off the glove that landed safe on the off-side, and a fierce return catch as Stokes drilled hard back through the line.

But Stokes’ confidence in his base does mitigate those moments when he decides to put the hammer down – such as in a thrilling second hour, when the left-armer Shahbaz Nadeem dragged his line wider outside off, and started spitting some vicious lifters out of the crumbling footholes. It was the earliest evidence of Root’s assertion that this pitch would break up over time, but it also meant that for the left-hander, conventional entrenchment was suddenly fraught with danger.

Stokes’ response seemed skittish at first, but it was replete with game-craft – not least his innate understanding with Root at the other end. A brace of boundaries in the morning session were the sum of the captain’s intent, as he focused on working the singles and letting his team-mate drive the agenda.

And he did so with burgeoning confidence. Out came Stokes’ sweeps – a very different beast to the surgical instrument that has carried Root past 600 runs in three Tests this year. A flog clean out of the rough, high over deep midwicket; a rifled reverse-sweep for four one over later, and another next ball to rush through to his half-century.

Washington Sundar was treated with little more respect when he entered the fray, as Stokes rattled along to 63 not out at lunch, more than two-thirds of England’s runs in a wicketless morning session. He might have been tempted to wind it back thereafter, but with Root looking as entrenched as any England cricketer in history, the opportunity to drill home the advantage was too good to turn down.

2.10pm: Tea – 454 for 4 (Root 209*, Pope 24*)

Another session that goes England’s way. India would have been concerned at lunch about the prospect of Stokes taking the game away from them, but he picked out deep backward square leg with a slog-sweep to fall for 82. But Root has pressed on and on, reaching his double in emphatic style, and India have looked increasingly desperate, even turning to Rohit Sharma’s occasional offbreaks before tea. Ollie Pope is yet to find fourth or fifth gear, and with Jos Buttler in next, England will hoping to press on towards 600 tonight.

2.00pm: Root doubles up

That’s some way to reach a landmark. Root skips down the pitch and dumps Ashwin over wide long-on to reach his double hundred with a sweetly-struck six. It’s hard to know where to start in talking about this innings, but the records that he has broken will only do it so much justice. He has moved up and down the gears seamlessly, playing the situation as required at all times, and has been dominant and ruthless in targeting the weaker links in India’s attack. An outstanding innings by a player in the form of his life.

1.40pm: Pope survives

India have now burned all three of their reviews for the innings. They appeared to be convinced that they’d got Ollie Pope, who was sweeping Ashwin and miscued to leg gully, but Anil Chaudhary correctly adjudged that it had hit his forearm instead, and was vindicated by the third umpire. Root is now closing in on a double, while Pope is looking a little more fluent after a slow start.

1.25pm: Steady going

Tight stuff from India either side of drinks, with Root and Pope nudging along at just below two runs an over in their partnership. The question for India is whether they can keep this pressure on through their change bowlers, with Washington Sundar now into the attack. Pope has scored very slowly so far but looks solid enough and has started to reveal his attacking instincts, reverse-sweeping Sundar in his last over.

12.50pm: Stokes goes

Stokes had lived a charmed life today ever since he survived Bumrah’s vicious early yorker, offering several half-chances that didn’t go to hand, and this time his luck was out. He decided to take on the slog-sweep against Nadeem who flighted one up on leg stump, but only managed to pick out Pujara at deep backward square. He did his best to drop it but just about managed to cling on.

Ollie Pope is in at No. 6 in his first England appearance since September, when he injured his shoulder against Pakistan. It has been a longer absence that he had anticipated, but he took a while to get his confidence back diving in the field. Pope averaged 43.00 against spin in Tests coming into this innings compared to a slightly lower 36.85 against the seamers, but perhaps surprisingly, his strike rate has been significantly slower: 39.44 against spin compared to 57.52 against the quicks.

12.30pm: Root presses on

For those who have followed Joe Root’s Test career, his mastery over the art of playing spin, and as a natural consequence, over Asian conditions should not come as a surprise, writes Shiva Jayaraman. However, this innings has statistically placed him among the greatest visiting batsmen of all time.

Going into this Test, Root had 1526 runs against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in away Tests at an average of 58.7. Five other batsmen – Garry Sobers and Brian Lara among them – had scored at least 1000 runs at a better average than Root in away Tests against these teams. With this innings, Root will break into the top three of this list. Only Garry Sobers and possibly Clive Lloyd will average better than him by the time Root is finished with this innings.


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