Visakhapatnam: Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and fast-bowler Jasprit Bumrah took three wickets each as India beat England by 106 runs in the second Test at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, to level the five-game series 1-1.
England put in a brave effort to chase a record 399, but hunting down a staggering target like that was always going to be an uphill task. They showed the positivity of continuing their uber-attacking approach, but it wasn’t sufficient as they were bowled out for 292 in 69.2 overs.
Bumrah, whose spell of 6-45 gave India a vital 171-run first-innings lead, was the pick of the bowlers again with his spell of 3-46. Bumrah finished the Visakhapatnam Test with match figures of 9-91, which is also the second-best figures for an Indian fast-bowler against England. Ashwin bowled well to take 3-72 in Vizag and is now just one wicket away from reaching 500 Test scalps.
Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and Mukesh Kumar took a wicket each in India, bouncing back from the 28-run defeat in Hyderabad with an emphatic series-squaring victory at Visakhapatnam.
The next game of the series will be held at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot on February 15.
In the morning session, England amassed 127 runs, but lost five wickets too, including of top-scorer Zak Crawley for 73, putting India in a pole position to win the match. Initially, the Indian bowlers struggled with their lines as Crawley and Rehan Ahmed hit five boundaries between themselves, though the former was cautious against a sharp Bumrah.
Rehan became the first wicket to fall for England on 23 when he was trapped plumb lbw by Axar. Ollie Pope hit the ground running with his sweep and reverse-sweep off Axar for boundaries. Crawley got his second fifty of the match in 83 balls after dancing down the pitch to chip Axar over mid-off for four.
Pope was at his determined best – sweeping, glancing and using his feet to take three fours off Axar. But his lively innings ended when he looked to slash with hard hands and only managed to get a thick outside edge to the left of Rohit Sharma at first slip, who was alert enough to take a one-handed reflex catch.
Joe Root, batting with an injured right little finger, was attacking from the word go – reverse-sweeping twice in his first four balls for boundaries off Ashwin, before smacking Axar over long-off for six. His frenetic knock ended when he miscued a slog off Ashwin and the thick top-edge was caught by short third man.
Jonny Bairstow looked solid, driving Axar through and sweeping off Ashwin for boundaries. While Crawley smacked Ashwin down the ground for four, Bairstow cut the off-spinner for a boundary. The return of Bumrah didn’t deter Bairstow, who brought out the extra cover drive and punch through point to get two cracking fours.
But the momentum swung back in India’s favour in the last ten minutes before lunch. Crawley was trapped lbw on backfoot against Kuldeep Yadav, with replays showing the ball hitting leg-stump. Bumrah ended the session when his nip-backer trapped Bairstow lbw, with the review showing the ball clipping top of leg-stump.
The first 20 minutes of the second session saw captain Ben Stokes and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes biding their time against the Bumrah-Kuldeep pairing. But Foakes was quick to take two boundaries off Bumrah – clipping through mid-wicket and edging between slip cordon and gully.