It was a day of India flexing their batting muscles. England managed to take only five wickets after a tiresome day in Hyderabad. Jadeja and Rahul may have batted England out of the day with some proper cricketing shots. The strength of India’s batting lineup was on show, number nine Axar Patel batted like a seasoned Test batsman. It would be another perilous day for the visitors if they are unable to take a wicket or two quickly after play resumes on day three.
Virat Kohli was the most notable absentee from the Indian lineup that vanquished the South Africans at Newlands. The 34 year old batter would not be available for selection due to personal reasons. Srikar Bharat came in to replace Virat Kohli. The 30 year old from Andhra Pradesh would don the gloves for team India, which means KL Rahul is playing as a specialist batsman.
Mukesh Kumar and Prasidh Krishma are the other two missing from the Indian XI at Newlands. Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel were added to the team. This decision would not surprise anyone,anyone as these two were pivotal difference makers in last series, with 59 wickets among them. The return of Jasprit Bumrah would sure please Indian fans. The 30 year old pacer returned to the Test side after two long years without a game. Mohammed Siraj was playing the first test before his home crowd.
Just like Virat Kohli, Harry Brook is absent from the English test setup due to personal reasons. Ben Foakes came in to replace him and was handed the keeping gloves. Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad have announced their retirements after the Ashes series, so there were plenty of spots up for grabs for the newcomers.
England team management opted for a trio of spin attack. 24 year old Lancashire spinner Tom Hartley makes his debut in this match. Rehan Ahmed played only one test match before this one. Ben Stokes’ preferred spinner Jack Leach is back to the team after missing the Ashes series due to a lumbar stress fracture. James Anderson is benched for this game as England chose only one pacer to play in Hyderabad.
1. Zak Crawley 2. Ben Duckett 3. Ollie Pope 4. Joe Root 5. Jonny Bairstow 6. Ben Stokes (Cap.) 7. Ben Foakes (WK) 8. Rehan Ahmed 9. Tom Hartley 10. Mark Wood 11. Jack Leach
1. Rohit Sharma (Cap.) 2. Yashasvi Jaiswal 3. Shubman Gill 4. KL Rahul 5. Shreyas Iyer 6. Ravindra Jadeja 7. Srikar Bharat (WK) 8. Ravichandran Ashwin 9. Axar Patel 10. Jasprit Bumrah 11. Mohammed Siraj
The English captain Ben Stokes won the coin toss and chose to bat first. The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad is known to be a paradise for pace bowlers. The surface looked hard, it may assist the spinners as the game progresses. In the last test match at this ground, India emerged victorious against the West Indies by a huge margin of 10 wickets. India had three spin bowlers in their lineup but Umesh Yadav was the key bowler who dismantled the West Indies lineup. The pitch was revealing more cracks than day one, the runs would likely to flow in the next three days.
These two cricket heavyweights have met on 131 previous occasions in Test cricket. In those games, India has emerged victorious on 31 occasions. England has the upper hand with 50 wins. The remaining 50 matches ended in a draw. On Indian soil, the hosts are clearly ahead with 22 wins. England won on 14 occasions during their tour of India. These two sides met in the Test format back in 2020-21 in an entertaining series. Top quality cricket was played across five matches in this series and it ended in 2-2. In the last series in India, the three lions succumbed to the spinning power of the hosts and lost the series 3-1. The last time India were beaten on home soil was back in 2012. An energetic English side led by Sir Alastair Cook recorded a famous win.
The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium has hosted five games before this. The wins were equally shared by teams batting first and second. No visiting team has ever recorded a Test victory at this ground. India is a dominant force in Hyderabad, they even scored an astronomical 687/6 against Bangladesh back in 2017. India has secured 16 successive series wins since 2012, seven of these series have been whitewashes.
|The second day of the first Test match between India and England was held at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad.
|The game started on Friday, 26 January, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. local time.
Captaincy & Tactics
It was a batting masterclass from the Indian team who played with vigour and purpose. The Englishmen only managed to pick up six wickets throughout the day’s play. Five of those six wickets fell to attacking shots. The approach from the Indian camp was to attack the English bowlers. Yashasvi Jaiswal could not reach the second century of his Test career as he fell to Joe Root’s offspin.
Joe Root was hitting the right channels and creating discomforts for the Indian batsmen. However, he was taken out of the attack after a four over spell. He induced an edge off KL Rahul’s bat. But Ben Foakes managed to hold onto it. Ben Stokes opted for his frontline spinners, a decision that was as puzzling as it was ineffective.
KL Rahul showed his maturity while tackling spinners. He played the balls on the backfoot and kept the scoreboard ticking by picking up regular singles. 52% of his runs first fifty came off shots on the backfoot. Jadeja once again found his mojo back after a wonderful 2023 in Test cricket for India.
Shreyas Iyer was in a belligerent mood against the spinners. He was not perfect in his batting approach, but he took the full advantage of frequent short balls by the English spinner. He was finding it hard to pick Rehan Ahmed. But the short balls were offered at different intervals to make the job easier for the 29 year old Indian batter. He eventually fell to the trap set by Rehan. It was a googly delivery, Shreyas Iyer managed to read it out of hand. But his shot did not have the elevation and fell into the hands of midwicket.
The English bowlers only have themselves to blame for their ordinary bowling throughout the second day. 18% of the deliveries were pitched on the shorter sight of the pitch. It is crime especially when you are trying to attack your opponents with spin bowling. As it was evident from the last World Cup match against Australia, KL Rahul is a fabulous player of spinner. It would be interesting to see whether the right hander goes to the 2024 T20 World Cup as a wicketkeeper or not. But in the Test arena, he is undoubtedly an auto choice as a specialist batsman.
Questions could be asked about the English team selection. James Anderson would have felt at home bowling in a circumstance like this. There was some moisture on the pitch and the veteran could have tested the Indian batsmen with his wonderful ability to produce some reverse swing.
Ben Stokes is a captain who likes to attack the opponent batters under any circumstances. He was willing to persist the under seige spinner Tom Hartley who was clearly struggling with the pressure of international cricket. But the English skipper could have persisted with Joe Root who was bowling according to the needs of the wicket.
The partnership between Jadeja and Rahul almost batted England out of the game. These two experienced campaingers started taking measured risks. The partnership reached 52 runs in just 51 deliveries. Rahul was especially brilliant, playing the ball late towards the cover region. The right hander would feel aggreived after missing out on a 2nd Test century on home soil. He got himself dismissed off a long hop delivery that was asking to be finished. But Rahul mistimed the ball and it went to the hand of deep midwicket instead.
After the tea break, the English bowlers finally got some momentum going. They conceded only 21 runs from 67 deliveries right after the tea break. Jadeja was waiting for the odd bad ball to punish. He adopted a different approach to Jack Leach though, stepping out to unsettle the left-arm orthodox bowler.
KS Bharat looked shaky at the beginning of his innings. He improved after the break though, scoring 31 from 36 deliveries after tea. Bharat lost his wicket after trying to sweep the ball from Joe Root’s over. Ravichandran came and went after a misjudgment with his bowling partner Jadeja.
Axar Patel was not expressive during the early phase of his innings. The recently turned 30 all-rounder ended the day on a high with three boundaries off the last three balls to cap off a maginificent batting display by his side. The partnership between Jadeja and Axar picked up 63 runs from 117 balls.
65% of KL Rahul’s run came while he was playing the ball off the back foot. This is a clear indication of the slowness of the pitch. The batsman gets plenty of time before the ball reaches him. Jonny Bairstow tried to do the same thing on the first day of the match. But he was bowled by Axar Patel. Bowling at a faster pace could be the solution.
It was a much improved performance by Tom Hartley who received a severe beating on the first day of the Test match. Shubman Gill was the only Indian batsman who was adopting a defensive approach against the spinner. The dot balls kept piling up and eventually Gill was feeling the pressure to break the shackles. After getting a reprieve off a Root delivery, Gill eventually ended up falling to the midwicket fielder.
The bowling of Mark Wood was wayward to say the least. The pace bowler was delivering short balls on a pitch that did not have much bite to it. Joe Root bowled exceptionally well for a part-timer. He was not afraid to give the ball some air and drift. Rehan Ahmed showed glimpses of a talent that has much to offer in the coming days. Rehan can bowl leg break and googly out of the back of his hand. It is a great weapon to have as a leg spinner. But he would need to learn to control his deliveries if he wants to move further up in his career.
Jack Leach was a big miss from the English squad in the Ashes series. The left arm spinner looked the most comfortable bowler out of the whole English attack. But he bowled in a safe line and the batsmen did not try anything fancy of his bowling. Rehan Ahmed is an uncut gem and this tour will act as a major learning curve in the wrist spinner’s career.
Ben Foakes could not gather an edge off KL Rahul’s bat during the early exchanges. The resultant single was given as a bye by the onfield umpire. It would have interesting to see had the 30 year old been able to held on to the chance. England had wasted all of there three reviews inside the first 14 overs of the Indian innings.
Joe Root was given an easy opportunity to dismiss Jaiswal early on the day. Root leapt and grabbed the ball safely which flew from Jaiswal’s bat. Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Ben Duckett completed three easy catches to dismiss Iyer, Rahul and Gill. It was a humid day in Hyderabad despite the temparature not being too high. The English fielders had to toil hard in the field. The overall fielding performance was good by the visitors. They need to grab every chance that comes their way if the want to salvage this test match.
Yashasvi Jaiswal would surely rue the missed chance as he was sent back to the pavilion at the score of 80. The left hander succumbed to a soft dismissal, sending a tame return catch back to Joe Root. Jaiswal was one of Root’s two wickets on the day. The part-time off spinner had a decent day out with the ball. He picked up 2 wickets for 77 runs. KL Rahul played maginificently through the day. It was an innings touched by poise and grace. However, Rahul fell 23 runs short of his 9th Test hundred. He was one of two victim’s of Tom Hartley. The 24 year old spinner has managed to claim two wickets on his first successful day in Test cricket. Hartley has shown plenty of promise with the ball early on and ended the way with the figures of 2 for 131.
Ravindra Jadeja was still at the crease, looking to add to his three Test centuries so far. Shreyas Iyer started off brightly, but played one shot too many in his innings of 35 from 63 balls. Axar Patel has been sensational for his country with the bat lately. The all-rounder from Gujarat offered support to Jadeja and ended with 35 runs. Shubman Gill had a disappointing day with the bat. Rehan Ahmed bowled well at spells, but has little to show for his efforts. Mark Wood did not produce anything extraordinary to trouble the batsmen.
The turning point came in the 53 over of the Indian innings. The Indians were still 23 runs behind the total accumulated by the the Englishmen in their first innings. Shreyas Iyer just got dismissed after trying be over aggressive against the spin of Tom Hartley. KL Rahul was at the crease with 53 runs. But the English spinner had their tails up after the dismissal of Shreyas Iyer. The ball was turning and the bowlers were making the most out of the moisture available in the wicket. Another wicket would have done wonders to the English’s frail confidence. However, the introduction of Ravindra Jadeja alongside KL Rahul was the last thing Ben Stokes wanted.
The left hand, right hand combination and measure strokes put India in a commanding position in this Test Match. Rahul was playing in the back foot, allowing the ball to come onto his bat. Jadeja was the powerful enforcer who was coming down the track to punish the spinners. The pair added 65 runs from 75 balls to diminish any remnant hopes for a English comeback. KL Rahul eventually got dismissed by Tom Hartley. Jadeja continued in the same fashion with Axar Patel late in the day.
India (421/7) lead India by a margin of 175 runs. The Englishmen scored 246 (all out) in their first innings.
|England First Innings: 246/10 (64.3 overs)
|India 1st Innings: 421/7 (113 overs)
|Ben Stokes 70 (88)
|KL Rahul 86 (123)
|Jonny Bairstow 37 (58)
|Ravindra Jadeja 81* (164)
|Ravindra Jadeja 3/88 (18 overs)
|Joe Root 2/77 (23 overs)
|Ravichandran Ashwin 3/68 (21 overs)
|Tom Hartley 2/131 (32 overs)
The Indian batters carried on the domination set up by the bowlers. The three pronged spin attack from English spinners had to toil hard on a humid day in Hyderabad. Two fifties from KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja meant that India would be well ahead of England’s first innings score at the close of play. Jadeja and Axar would look to add as many runs as possible in the first session of the third day. Ben Stokes will feel his side needs to take remaining wickets to keep their hopes alive for a rare victory on Indian soil.