India 455 (Kohli 167, Pujara 119) and 204 (Kohli 81, Broad 4-33) beat England 255 (Stokes 70, Bairstow 53, Ashwin 5-67) and 158 (Cook 54) by 246 runs
India’s bowlers required just 38.1 overs to wrap up a 246-run victory on the final day of the second Test in Visakhapatnam, as England’s resolve – fatally weakened by the loss of two wickets late on the fourth evening – was finally cracked with nothing but pride left to play for. The damage had been done in a frantic morning session in which they slumped from 87 for 2 to 142 for 7, and the tail succumbed meekly after lunch, with only Jonny Bairstow showing any real resistance with 34 not out.
The margin of victory perhaps overstated the gulf between the sides – the key difference, in every sense, was India’s captain and Man of the Match Virat Kohli, whose aggregate of 248 runs single-handedly accounted for the deficit in England’s balance. But, having fought so hard for so long, especially in the second half of the contest, the speed of their final-day demise was dispiriting for England, with the third Test in Mohali looming large next week.
Contrary to all pre-match predictions, the pitch still wasn’t spinning dramatically by the final day, but it was skidding through at a hustling pace to match India’s turbo-charged over-rate – they bowled 33.4 in the morning session, including an extraordinary ten in the first half-hour alone as Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin tied England in knots at a rate of knots.
The devastating dismissal of Alastair Cook, in the last over of the fourth day, had left England fearing the worst when play resumed, and there was an inevitability about the identity of the first victim of the morning. Ben Duckett’s rich strokeplay and inventive attitude will doubtless serve him well as his England career progresses, but in this situation – and particularly against his nemesis, Ashwin – those attributes had roughly the same value as an INR 500 note.
Sure enough, having withstood 15 deliveries without opening his account, Duckett dropped to one knee in a bid to hit his way out of a corner, but succeeded only in gloving a sweep onto his thigh pad and into the gloves of the wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. As he trooped disconsolately off the pitch, Duckett might as well have walked straight onto the England bench. His record against Ashwin alone in this series made grim reading – 40 balls, 15 runs, three wickets. He’ll be back, but perhaps not in Mohali next week.
Moeen Ali was the next to go, his technique against the spinners looking solid right up until the moment Jadeja got one to grip in the rough outside off, and accelerate onto his inside edge for Kohli to complete a lobbed catch at leg gully. From 75 for 0 after 50 overs, England were now in freefall at 101 for 4 after 74 – the flip-side of their siege mentality being that India were now camping as many as five close catchers under every new batsman’s nose.
Such close attention didn’t bother Ben Stokes at first. He had been so solid in defence in the first innings, and continued his tried-and-trusted methods in a 33-ball stay. But, when India turned to the second new ball – and in the process, gave Jadeja’s fingers a rest after 25 overs on the trot had left him with the outstanding figures of 34-14-35-2 – the lankier offspin of Jayant Yadav conjured the ball of the match.
A faster, flatter offbreak from around the wicket drifted as Stokes played back, then spat past his edge to clip the outside of his off stump. Stokes nodded his appreciation as the bowler hurtled past in celebration, and when Root was nailed by Mohammed Shami nine balls later, the teams might as well have shaken hands there and then.
Root had once again been England’s most accomplished technician on the day. But, having survived an early reprieve when Kohli spilled a sharp chance at leg slip, he was pinned on the crease by a zippy nipbacker from Shami and sent on his way for 25 from 107 balls.
There was time for one more breakthrough before lunch, as Adil Rashid top-edged an attempted ramp over the slips, to give Shami his second wicket of the innings, and the denouement came in a resigned procession after the resumption.
Zafar Ansari completed a match every bit as ignominious as Duckett’s when Ashwin skidded a flat offbreak into his off stump for a duck, before Jayant produced a carbon copy of England’s demise in the first innings, trapping Stuart Broad and James Anderson with consecutive lbws. Anderson completed his comeback Test with a king pair, remarkably the first by an England batsman for 110 years.
That wasn’t the sort of history that Cook’s men had targeted at the start of the tour, but with three matches to come and some clear signs of life amid the ruins of today’s effort, there will be chances to atone in the coming weeks. But a few correct calls at the toss would be a start.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket