Everyone is talking about India’s all-round show against England and Mohali test win coming from such efforts. Our Kridangan writer Vignesh aptly described it a thumping win. Everything fits because India did turn out a great performance to take a commanding 2-0 lead with two test matches remaining. However amid the victory euphoria, a very crucial work by three of India’s top bowlers is not getting its due attention. Ironically, it is not about their bowling skills. They didn’t falter there at all but on the second and third days, these three did something out of the ordinary that paved the way for victory.
England skipper Alistair Cook elected to bat after winning the toss but his batsmen couldn’t find their rhythm against India’s bowlers. Beginning with Hasseb Hameed, wickets kept tumbling and England reeled at 144/5. Thereafter, Jonny Bairstwo, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes offered stiff resistance and England reached 283 all out. That was not a bad score on a pitch that seemed to offer a lot of support to the bowlers on the first day itself. The pitch showed its color, when India came on to bat on the second day. A frustrated Murali Vijay played a rank bad stroke off Ben Stokes and walked off even before the umpire could raise his finger. This was the 15th over and India had only crawled to 39/1. That became 73/2, when Patel also lost his wicket after a relatively speedy 42 off 85 balls. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli forked out a steady partnership before 3 Indian wickets fell in a heap. First was Pujara, who went for a needless skier that was brilliantly held by Woakes in the deep to make it 148/3. New man Ajinkya Rahane played 6 balls before being pinned by a super googly by Adil Rashid. 152/4 became 156/5 when debutant Karun Nair was run out by a smart throw from Buttler. Kohli was the lone savior now but he too succumbed to a nibbled edge to the keeper. At 204/6, India were far behind England and the picture looked far from rosy from India’s viewpoint.
It was here that India’s premier bowlers, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav showed their batting skills in full measure. What happened on fourth day became a glory-story for India but not much coverage was accorded to the 217 invaluable runs that got added to India’s score after Kohli got out on second day. Ashwin was 22, when Ravindra Jadeja joined him after Kohli’s dismissal. The two batsmen refrained from playing any risky strokes and first boundary came after more than 25 deliveries. Ashwin and Jadeja kept stealing ones or twos to keep the score ticking. Until the 77th over, Jadeja had kep himself under check and his score was just 8 after 34 balls. On the other side Ashwin was playing on 40. In the 78th over Jadeja got adventurous. After hammering Rashid for the first-ball boundary, he took 2 off the next. Off the fourth ball, Jadeja lifted Rashid out of the ground and on the next ball; he nearly fell caught and bowled. But after Ashwin had a pep-talk with his partner, Jadeja curbed his instincts. They still had some way to go for wiping off the first innings deficit.
England took the new ball after 80 overs with Chris Woakes bowling the 81st over. Jadeja’s second boundary off Woakes brought 50 of his partnership with Ashwin. James Anderson came next and Ashwin scored two boundaries off him. Ashwin and Jadeja remained unseparated as play ended on second day at India’s score standing at 271/6, still 12 runs short of England’s first innings.
After another 30 runs on the third day, Ashwin fell. Walking back, he clearly looked dejected but he had done his job in scoring invaluable 70 runs off 113 balls. Jayant Yadav, who was playing only his second test, joined Jadeja. By now Jadeja had reached 46 off 93 balls. Jayant filled the void left by Ashwin and played like an accomplished batsman. In the 98th over bowled by Anderson, Jayant produced two delectable boundaries to show his true batting prowess. Another partnership was blossoming for India. After 97 between Ashwin-Jadeja, 80 runs were scored by Jadeja and Jayant. When Jadeja fell for a nicely compiled 90 off 170 balls, India were 98 runs ahead of England and Jayant was still there flourishing. He went on to complete a deserving 55 off 141 balls, when India finished at 417 all out.
India’s 417 would not have been possible without the fantastic batting efforts by Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant. These three are in the team primarily for their bowling but in Mohali test, they afforded India a crucial 134-run lead by a great show of batsmanship. To stay in the match, England needed to first wipe off this deficit. They did that on the fourth day but couldn’t build anything substantial because the three batting heroes, Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant came back to perform with the ball this time. They shared 7 wickets among them and restricted England’s overall lead to just 103 runs. Parthiv Patel might have scored the winning runs, but Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant had earlier carved out the pathway for India’s 8-wicket victory.