The fans from England entered the ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium with high hopes that the City of Destiny would live up to its nickname. However, by 12:50pm local time, those hopes had vanished as Ben Stokes walked back to the pavilion, muttering about his dismissal, and the morning’s sea haze had dissipated.
At this stage, England was facing difficulties in staying competitive. They were trying to successfully chase a target of 399 runs, which would have been a record-breaking feat. However, they were currently at 220 for six, with India continuously breaking through their defenses. Despite this, hope remained as Stokes was still on the field, known for his impressive performances.
However, the turning point occurred when Ben Foakes hit a single towards the leg side, but his partner was slow to react. Shreyas Iyer, fielding at midwicket, made a smooth and accurate throw, reminiscent of Ravindra Jadeja’s interventions, and Stokes was narrowly unable to make it to the line, even though a dive could have potentially saved him.
The England captain returned to wearing a bucket hat as he witnessed India take the last three wickets and secure a 106-run win, resulting in a tied score of 1-1 after two Tests. The hosts deserved the victory, especially with standout performances from Yashasvi Jaiswal, who scored a double century in the first innings, and Shubman Gill, who scored 104 in the second. The young players’ contributions were crucial for a team without Virat Kohli and Jadeja.
The individuals who were not present, along with the absence of Mohammed Shami and Rishabh Pant, resulted in this Test being a missed chance for England. Despite commendable showings from their inexperienced spinners and veteran Jimmy Anderson, Zak Crawley’s top scores of 76 and 73 in each innings demonstrate why they were unable to seize the opportunity. However, it was difficult to ignore the key factor: Jasprit Jasbirsingh Bumrah.
England arrived in India anticipating a spin-heavy game, but as they take a nine-day break with their families in Abu Dhabi, the spotlight will likely be on India’s top fast bowler. Bumrah’s performance was exceptional, particularly his six-wicket haul with reverse swing on day two, which would have been difficult for most opponents to handle. This feat will surely be talked about for years to come, with comparisons being drawn to legendary bowlers like Waqar Younis. The highlight of his performance was the yorker that sent Ollie Pope’s stumps flying, reminiscent of a circus act.
Bumrah delivered the final blow by taking down Tom Hartley’s off pole, ending his courageous 36 runs. England’s innings came to an end at 292 runs in 69.2 overs, with Bumrah being rightfully named the player of the match for his total of nine wickets. One of his three wickets on the final day was Jonny Bairstow, who was given out lbw just before lunch. Kuldeep Yadav’s dismissal of Crawley four balls earlier, confirmed by three reds on Hawk-Eye, highlighted the special talent that Rohit Sharma has in his arsenal.
Due to his unique style on the court, the 30-year-old stands out among his peers. His powerful serves are nearly impossible to mimic in practice. He also has a deceptive slow ball that resulted in Foakes being caught out during the final moments of the match. Crawley, who was able to counter with some well-placed drives and shots through midwicket, may be able to offer some helpful tips to his fellow teammates.
Not that a broader overhaul of approach will follow from this England team, wedded as they are to the aggression that has lifted their results these past two years. This much was clear from what was always a mountain of a run chase, one in which they resumed on 67 for one with six sessions remaining and set off at a brisk pace. But even on a pitch still playing true in the main, it was always hard to see how nine wicket-taking deliveries or batter errors would not materialise before the summit.
However, many were surprised when Joe Root joined the group of players who were dismissed in a similar manner. After Ollie Pope was also sent off early by Sharma’s impressive catch at first slip, England’s vice-captain was only able to hold out for 23 runs before being dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin’s delivery from around the wicket. Root attempted to increase his score with 16 runs, but ultimately fell to a poorly executed shot against the angle of the ball. This marked Ashwin’s 499th Test wicket, and he was denied his 500th when Stuart Broad was given out caught off his forearm, but the decision was successfully reviewed.
Root did have a busted right pinkie, an injury which may in part explain his strange knock. But after scores of 29, two and five before this – Bumrah twice masterfully working him over among these – it has been a low‑key start by a player who has now passed 1,000 Test runs in India. There is of course the extra burden of bowling in this series, something he has dutifully taken on but looked increasingly weary from also.
Maybe the interval before the third Rajkot Test will benefit Root, although those of us observing this captivating series will be wishing for time to pass swiftly.