Chennai: India level the series 1-1 against England after beating the visitors by 317 runs in Chennai. Chasing 482, England were bowled out for 164 in the second innings with debutant Axar Patel picking up a fifer.
WHO SAID WHAT?
R Ashwin | MoM (2/2): That innings in Sydney really set the tone for me. I am enjoying my game and am really happy it happened in Chennai. Every load up gives a different result in terms of which way the pitch is behaving. I try and load up differently, use the breeze, use different angles to release the ball, speed of the run-up. This is working because I have created this awareness for myself. I have been playing it for the last 25 years. I really had to express myself. [In Tamil] As an eight-year-old I have come here on these very stands to watch cricket. I have played four Test matches here and easily this is the most special. I get a hero’s feeling here playing cricket in Covid times, and this knowledgable crowd came out in big numbers. They were 1-0 without the crowd, and we made it 1-1 with them. Hopefully, we can take it forward.
R Ashwin | MoM (1/2): This wicket was very different from the one we played on in the first game. This was a red soil wicket, the first one was a clay wicket. As much as people were predicting things from the outside, I thought the balls that were doing much wasn’t getting wickets. It was the mind of the batsmen that got us wickets. I have been playing for years over here now and it takes pace and guile to do it. Keeping the intent was very important. It is very important to put the pressure on the bowlers because if you allow them to dictate terms, it is going to get easier. I just wanted to take it upon myself, and after I connected the first ball, I knew I got a hang of this wicket. I am someone who tries hard, and when things don’t go my way, I try harder. Vikram Rathore has been very supportive. My batting was more about hands, to think tactically instead of technically. Ajinkya played a crucial role in telling me that I was overthinking it.
Virat Kohli | Winning skipper (2/2): Rishabh Pant has really worked hard in Australia when he moves with the gloves you can see the difference in his reactions. He has shed a lot of weight and has worked hard on himself. It is showing, the way he kept with so much turn and bounce, credit to him. We want him to keep improving as a keeper because we know the value he brings to the team. It is a very, very special moment for Axar. He would’ve played the first game as well if he didn’t have that niggle. He was keen to step on, and if you get that kind of pitch, he was all smiles and couldn’t wait to get the ball in his hands. Hope he builds on from here, he has an important couple of games ahead. I take a lot of pride in improving myself and correcting my mistakes quickly. If I make an error, I make sure I iron it out in the next innings. Ashwin batted outstandingly well and that partnership between us was very crucial. I knew I could trust my defence and easily bat four sessions on this pitch. Ahmedabad is going to be challenging. This England side has quality players and we need to be on our ‘A’ game throughout.
Virat Kohli | Winning skipper (1/2): It was a bit strange in the first game to be playing at home with empty stands. We were pretty flat on the first two days over there to be pretty honest, myself included, didn’t pick up energy on the field. But from the second innings onwards in the first game, we picked up and were on the money in terms of our body language. The crowds make a big difference, this game was an example of the grit and determination of this sideshow and the crowd is a big part of that. Chennai crowd are knowledgeable, they understand their cricket really well. In a 15-20 minute period where the bowler needs the support of the crowd, it is my responsibility to involve everyone and bring in the crowd. If I am running into the bowl in this heat, I need people to motivate me. It is a perfect game for us. The conditions were challenging for both sides, but we showed more application with the bat. We didn’t panic out there looking at the turn and bounce, we showed grit, got into the game and scored 600 runs in the game. We know our bowlers would do the job for us if we put up these runs. The toss wouldn’t have mattered much in this game to be honest, because if you looked at our second innings, we got 300 as well. It wasn’t unfair if the toss went either way. Both teams should be in the game from the first session onwards, whether it is on spinning to seaming tracks, and that exactly was the case in this game.
Joe Root | Losing skipper: Credit to India, they outplayed us in all three departments. It has been an education for us, you could come up with conditions like these and we have to learn from this and find a way to score runs. We need to learn to build pressure and bowl six balls at one batsman. On day one we could have been a bit tighter, squeeze the game a bit more and make it harder for them to score. From day two, it was a very difficult wicket to bat on. But we have got to be smarter about how we’re building innings. We are 1-1 and we are excited about the next two games given the way we played in the first game. We could’ve played that extra spinner, it is always easy to look at balancing aside at the end of the game. It will be different again when we turn up for the third game which will be a day-nighter, and very exciting last two games. Moeen got better with the ball as the game went on, and we know how destructive he can be with the bat. Ben Foakes batted really well in the first innings and his keeping has always been excellent. There are definitely things we can take from this week and it is just important that we stay level as a team. We performed last week and we have got to learn quickly. There are a lot of players who haven’t played much cricket in this region and we have to learn quickly, which is something we have done well over the last few years. Ahmedabad will be very different, we have played only two pink-ball games. It looks like a fantastic venue, really looking forward to that.
Kuldeep Yadav: It was important to stay along with the team when it’s playing well. My job was to keep control, contain runs from one end and chip in as one of the three spinners on this track. We have been planning for this series for a long time, right from the Australia series. There was some pressure (on himself), having not played a lot of Tests in the last two years. Was discussing a lot with Ashwin regarding bowling in right areas and putting the pressure on the batsmen. We weren’t worried (about losing the first Test), we have been in such situations before, in my first series (in 2017), we had lost the first Test against Australia in Pune. We’re relaxed, we knew we had the team to come back and perform. Everyone was just focused on doing well in this Test.
Axar Patel: It was a good experience, to get a five-wicket haul on debut is special. As Kuldeep said, there was much happening on the pitch. It was about varying your speed and I just kept doing it. Forced the batsman to make mistakes. On the first day itself, it was turning. So, we bowled tight lines and got the rewards.