England have deservedly won the first Test against number-one ranked side India by 227 runs in Chennai. It is a rare away victory in India, with captain Joe Root hitting a timeless double hundred in his 100th Test match to set up the win. England looked the better side throughout, with every player pulling their weight to put them 1-0 up in the four match series.
With the pitch promising to offer little initially, Root won the toss and elected to bat. A big first innings total was required. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley looked assured opening, putting on a fifty run partnership and batting through the majority of the morning session. However, the quick wickets of Burns and then Dan Lawrence left England 63-2 just before lunch, meaning all was not lost for India.
Enter Joe Root. The England captain entered the field in his 100th test after seeing them like beachballs in Sri Lanka, scoring 426 runs in just two matches. And saying he continued his impressive form in this innings would be an understatement. Alongside Sibley, he took England from a potentially dangerous situation to a dominating one, notching up his 20th Test century as a partnership of 200 took England to 263-3 at the end of day one. Sibley excellently supported his captain but was dismissed off the last ball of the day by Jasprit Bumrah, who, along with fellow seamer Ishant Sharma, tirelessly ran in all day without much reward.
Sibley and Root’s partnership was at the core of their mammoth first innings
Root was not done there though, resuming exactly where he left off. Another fine partnership was formed, this time with Ben Stokes, who made an entertaining 82 before being caught in the deep. Root elegantly continued, deservedly bringing up his 5th test double hundred with a six; only Wally Hammond has more for England. Ollie Pope made his return to the test team, but never looked at home at the crease before being trapped LBW for 34 by Ravi Ashwin.
Not soon after Pope’s dismissal, Root’s mammoth innings came to an end with Nadeem finally getting him Leg Before. There are not enough superlatives to describe the Yorkshireman’s innings. He is the only player in the history of Test cricket to score a double-hundred in his 100th test. This effort from Root will deservedly be talked about for decades.
With Buttler and Bess at the crease, England kept the score ticking over. Ishant finally got the reward he deserved, clipping the top of Buttler’s off stump with a Jaffa. And for Ishant, one led to two. With the very next delivery, he knocked over Jofra Archer for a golden. With two wickets remaining, England saw out the rest of Day 2, and were all out early in Day 3 for a huge score of 578.
And then it was India’s turn. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill came out to bat, arguably the most exciting opening partnership in the world. They looked confident against James Anderson, with Gill especially playing some lovely shots. It was Jofra Archer, back into the team, that undid both batsmen. A ripper of a short ball forced Rohit into an edge to Buttler, with Gill being enticed into a drive that chipped up to mid-on, with Anderson demonstrating his athletic ability at 38 with a great catch.
Jofra Archer being congratulated after removing both of India’s openers
The key wicket of Virat Kohli was next, popping up a great delivery from Dom Bess to short leg without really troubling the score. Ajinka Rahane, the hero in Melbourne, also fell to Bess for 1, meaning the promising Rishabh Pant came out to the crease. He attacked from the off, especially taking the game to Jack Leach, striking at 228.57 against the spinner. Pujara supported, playing well for his 73 before a reserve sweep bounced off the back of short leg straight into the hands of square leg.
Washington Sundar, another hero of the Australian tour, also came out with intent. Pant finally holed out for 91, the third time he had been dismissed in the 90s in tests. Bess now had four. Another Leach returned with the wicket of all-rounder Ashwin, and then Nadeem, with Anderson cleaning up the tail, claiming Ishant and Bumrah. Sundar made an impressive 85 not out but ran out of partners as India made 337 and trailed by 241.
Rishabh Pant top scored for India in their first innings with his explosive 91
England decided to bat again, with the aim of posting an unassailable lead with enough time to bowl India out. And they achieved just that. Ashwin bowled beautifully for his six wicket haul, striking with the first ball of the innings to dismiss Rory Burns. England looked to score quickly, with Joe Root proving to be the pick of the batsmen once again with an attacking 40. Calls for declaration were made on social media, but it was clear Root and Silverwood had a plan. There was no need for a declaration in the end; England all out for 178, with Ishant Sharma picking up his 300thTest wicket in the process.
Silverwood and Root’s plan then came into full effect. England had 50 minutes at the end of Day 4 to grab a few quick wickets. Gill and Rohit came out with intent; Rohit pulling a short one off Archer for six, and Gill playing a pair of elegant on drives for 4. Leach opened the bowling with Archer, and provided the breakthrough, bowling Rohit with an excellent delivery, beating the attempted defence and clipping off stump. India ended the day 39-1, with England needing nine wickets of Day 5.
Leach’s Jaffa left the experienced Rohit Sharma perplexed
The necessary good start on Day 5 was delivered. Leach put his mauling by Pant behind him, building on from Rohit’s dismissal to claim the key wicket of Pujara early on Day 5. Captain Kohli came to the crease, needing a historic innings to save the game. The young opener Gill looked good and put up a deserved half-century, before Jimmy Anderson validated the claim that form is temporary, but class is permanent. The veteran seamer bowled one of his best spells in Test cricket; 5 overs, 3 maidens, 6 runs and 3 wickets. Identical reserve-swinging deliveries in a double wicket maiden sent Gill and Rahane’s off stumps cartwheeling, before removing the potential dangerman Pant.
Kohli looked to counter-attack, bringing up a half century, but Sundar and Ashwin were dismissed cheaply, removing any hope of an Indian resurgence. The key wicket of Kohli was next to fall, dismissed by a Ben Stokes delivery that kept low with thanks to the pitch, hitting the stumps. The tail was swept up, Leach deservedly bringing up a four-fer and Archer picking up the last wicket of Bumrah.
James Anderson’s magic spell was key to England’s victory
This is England’s sixth successive victory in away Tests and only India’s second defeat at home in Tests since 2013. Joe Root’s performance for the ages in his 100th Test match was the stand-out in an impressive all round display. It is the perfect to the series, with the momentum needed to be carried across to Saturday’s second Test.