19th over: England 42-4 ( Stokes 11, Pope 0) Axar on the money straight away after lunch. Stokes picks up three, leaving three for Pope who shapes to cut and is a cheese slice from playing onto his stumps. He survives two more flighted beads of beauty and that’s the over.
“Greetings from Malaysia.” Hello Joel Eley! “What are the chances of this game ending today? Pitch is really nasty. Other than the game in the West Indies being stopped have you seen a pitch this tasty?a pitch that is turning far too much for day 2.”
They’re just discussing this on Channel four.
“It’s a bunsen burner, and it has broken up too much for my liking, but England would have been able to read it, everybody knew but unfortunately they’ve not found a way to bat on it, says ERB
“It’s a poor pitch, a poor Test wicket, doesn’t mean its an excuse to not make runs on it,” is SAS’s verdict. Cripes, the players are out….
On Channel four Andrew Strauss and Ebony Rainford-Brent are discussing the importance of the crowd – and they’re right. I think that is why that session felt just so , electric, we’ve just forgotten what real emotions sound like. God knows what it was like out there, even with only 9,000 in the ground. As Sir Andrew Strauss says, “When India are on top it feels very oppressive.”
Fingerless gloves, hot-water bottle, large pot of coffee and wondering, like Sandy Wilson, on a cruise from Singapore to Fiji, “Not wishing to put the evil eye on ourselves, but has a test ever wrapped up on day 2…?”
The answer is yes, 21 of them: 9 in the 19th century, six in the 20th and six in the 21st – starting with England’s two-day crushing of West Indies at Headingley in 2000. That was the last time England were involved in double-dayers. India beat Afghanistan in two days in Bengaluru just three years ago. I’m not holding out much hope of working my shifts on the fourth and fifth days but never-say-die and we know how much Ben Stokes loves a challenge.
LUNCH England 39-4 (Stokes 8)
18th over: England 39-4 ( Stokes 8) We see a close up of Ashwin who turns the ball away from Stokes’s probing bat by the width of a violin. An airy drive follows, and a single, which brings Lawrence to the striker’s end. Ashwin gets ready to deliver the final ball of the over, but pulls out at the last second. He comes again, and, heartbreakingly, a lunchtime not-out in kissing distance, Lawrence gets an absolute beauty that kicks out of the pitch. As the ball falls into Gill’s hands, his long body slumps in disappointment. He’ll struggle to get a more testing session than that in his entire Test career. What a session! Time for a coffee, see you in half an hour.
WICKET! Lawrence c Gill b Ashwin 9
Ashwin goes round the wicket, the ball spits out of the pitch as Lawrence pushes forward and the ball is snaffled at short leg. That’s the eighth wicket to fall in the session for 68 runs!
17th over: England 38-3 (Lawrence 9, Stokes 7) Pant steps up the chirping behind the stumps, one over to go till lunch. Lawrence grins broadly and plays out a rapid maiden from Axar.
16th over: England 38-3 (Lawrence 9, Stokes 7) A beauty from Ashwin who hits Stokes on the pads. Kohli, most reluctantly, is persuaded to review by Ashwin and, sure enough, the ball is going over. Kohli’s beard stares disapproval. Ashwin may not be sitting next to his captain at lunch.
15th over: England 35-3 (Lawrence 6, Stokes 7) Axar, sleeves up by his elbow, fizzes one through that turns Dan Lawrence around as he makes an inelegant swat to leg. But he survives and tucks a single into his belt to finish the over.
14th over: England 34-3 (Lawrence 5, Stokes 7) We get an overview of the ground, so great to see the stands dotted with colour and life . Just two from a quiet Ashwin over.
13th over: England 32-3 (Lawrence 4, Stokes 6) England quietly pick up three more. 15 minutes till lunch till lunch, 98 needed to avoid the follow on.
“It’s Saturday night here in San Francisco, Chinese New Year fireworks are very quiet this year. No idea which innings we’ll be in when I get up.” Happy slumbers Ian Jefferson. I don’t have a clue either – isn’t it the best!
12th over: England 29-3 (Lawrence 4, Stokes 3) Five from Ashwin’s over as Lawrence shows signs of frustration, stepping out and looping the last ball in the air past mid on. Confident of foolhardy – shall we decide at lunch?
11th over: England 24-3 (Lawrence 1, Stokes 1) Axar, a slim-line of Ravi Shastri, is making his Test debut on a dream track. Not a bad first Test wicket either. He beats Stokes past the outside edge, first ball, and has a huge lbw appeal from the last. Kohli energetically asks for advice – do they review? Rohit, ice to his fire, says no
WICKET! Root c Ashwin b Axar
A first Test wicket for Axar! The ball turns and bounces, Root sweeps and top edges high to Ashwin waiting with open hands at short fine leg. England’s gate is now open…
10th over: England 21-2 (Lawrence 0, Root 3) Lawrence is off the mark! A quick single off Ashwin to mid-on. Tries to spade him off the back foot but the ball skids low and he is made to look foolish. It is spicy out there. If England don’t lose another wicket before lunch, I’ll forgo my muesli my muesli for cornflakes.
“In reply to Richard Hands (our man in Copenhagen), I have been thinking of nothing else since 2018 when I meant to send this verse in a submission to Adam Collins that should have been entitled ‘Instant Karma’:
‘Ishant Sharma’s gonna get youGonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead’
Unfortunately I mixed up the subject and opening lines and referred to ‘Instant Sharma’ instead, to my ongoing shame and humiliation.
Thanks for reminding me, Richard.” Brian Withingon, it is ok, honestly.
9th over: England 19-2 (Lawrence 0, Root 3) Kohli turns to left-arm sqinner Axar Patel on his Test debut. Slender, moustached, sunglasses, fairly round armed. Root knocks him for a couple, then Axar rips one past the outside edge and Root watchfully sees out the rest of the over. A promising start.
8th over: England 17-2 (Lawrence 0, Root 1) Root sweeps his second ball for a single, but India are bubbling. Breathe England, breathe.
WICKET! Sibley c Kohli b Ashwin 16
Sibley walks! He sweeps, misses, the ball hits his pad then the back of his bat and into the hands of Kohli, diving forwards at backwards short leg. The umpire says not out, India review but Sibley has given himself out. Very useful of Kohli to give him out as well though.
7th over: England 16-1 (Lawrence, Sibley 16) It is hot out there, Sibley wipes the bars of his helmet with his sweaty batting glove. The shadows are short, tucked inside the players footprints as they run through for a quick single off Ishant, whose shirt is sticking to his back. Lawrence is still yet to score. The crowd have quietened, have England seen off the initial flurry?
“Greetings from Auckland, Tanya,” Hello Steve Perrin!
I had dinner with your brother’s mother in law last night and she sends her love.
According to OBO Lawrence is Burns.”
Ainslie! Please give her my love back. She’s a very good cook. I’m insanely jealous of the fact you can eat with other people, especially my relatives. One day….
6th over: England 15-1 (Lawrence, Sibley 15) Ashwin, 99 on his back, wheels through another maiden but Lawrence plays this better, moves his feet more daintily, less hurried. On the radio, Darren Gough is saying how his son used to play with Lawrence at Essex and the main thing his son remembers about him is his utter confidence.
5th over: England 15-1 (Lawrence, Sibley 15) Ishant, menacing, hirsute, huge, five galloon boots, charges in. Sibley guides him through the slips for four. Next to me the puppy snores as Sibley nudges Ishant for another boundary through mid-on. Just call him Rohit Sibley. The last is a beauty that passes the outside edge.
4th over: England 7-1 (Lawrence 0, Sibley 7) Quite the test for Lawrence, who plays inside Ashwin’s fourth delivery in an ugly way, before trying to sweep and missing the next. Undeterred he sweeps again in a way that makes you think Sibley should have a quiet word. A maiden
3rd over: England 7-1 (LAwrence 0, Sibley 7) Ishant strays onto Sibley’s pads and he clips him away to the boundary in the Sibley way. Solid. Unflustered. Inelegant. And then two more. Thank you very much. To the exuberance of the Chennai crowd, Sibley turns on a tepid shower. Now Dan Lawrence must face Ashwin.
“Good morning Tanya, good morning viewers.” Hello Richard Hands in cold, dark Copenhagen. “Am I the only person who hears that John Lennon tune “Ishant Sharma’s gonna get you” in his head every single time he (Ishant, not Lennon) comes on to bowl?”
2nd over: England 1-1 (Lawrence 0, Sibley 1) A scrambled single off Ashwin’s last ball is the best part of the over for England. Sibley does well to survive after propping forwards with hard hands and the ball falls a fingernail short of Kohli at leg slip.
1st over: England 0-1 (Lawrence 0, Sibley 0) A huge crowd roar as Ishant moves those long legs from the top of his mark, and an even louder one as he dismisses Burns. Yet another uncomfortable position for Dan Lawrence to walk into . He keeps out the first two deliveries then prods the last, which took off from the pitch as Ishant tumbles over in his follow-through. Don’t adjust your sets!
“Truly inspired decision by Pant to grab a single off the first ball of Stone’s decisive over,” snorts Brian Withington. “Maybe England could go for a left field hire and employ him to help with setting a field against his own batting?”
WICKET! Burns lbw Ishant 0
It was clipping the top of leg stump and that’s umpires call.. Burns is on his way. That’s Ishant’s 301st Test wicket, he seems pleased, incidentally, and England, like India, are 0-1.
A full ball hits Burns on the knee roll but very in front of the stumps…
The players are on their way and I actually just rubbed my hands in anticipation. It is not going to be spin from the off, as Kohli has thrown the ball to Ishant Sharma.
“Should not Pant be banned for the next two games for sending the vector of disease onto the stands and thus breaking the bio-bubble? Just saying… Nothing to do with me wanting England to win, just concerned for the players’ health…”
That’s very thoughtful of you David Govantes-Edwards, how about you suggest it to Virat Kohli?
95.5 overs: India 329 all out (Pant 58 not out)
A very handy first forty minutes work for England! Super bowling from Olly Stone at the end and some spirit-raising wickets for Moeen. Now for the tough stuff. Just time to put on the kettle.
WICKET! Siraj c Foakes b Stone 4
Time for Siraj to elegantly guide Stone over point for a boundary. Pleased with himself, he tries again and feathers through to Foakes.
WICKET! Kuldeep c Foakes b Stone 0
Stone strikes with his third ball of the over! Gets Kuldeep wondering with a bouncer, then pitches up and Kuldeep prods through to Foakes.
95th over: India 324-8 (Pant 57, Kuldeep 0) Joe Root is a large mug of tea, of perfect builder’s consistency and Kuldeep prods out a maiden.
“Woke up late today after watching the late night disappointing Spurs against City to be greeted by India two wickets down already!” taps, Mittu Choudhary. “The field set for Pant seems very defensive — wonder whether Root is missing a trick doing that, he should go for at least few catchers inside.” There is a general rule that us armchair spectators always want to be more attacking than the actual captain on the field. If I was actually in charge of the pieces, not sure I’d be so brave! But yes!
94th over: India 324-8 (Pant 57, Kuldeep 0) Pant fancies doing to Moeen, what he did to Leach in the first Test. Moeen contains him for three deliveries, until Pant’s eyes light up at a slightly wide one. He polkas down the pitch and hurrahs Moeen for six straight into the stands. Good comeback by Moeen with his last ball, which pins Pant to his crease as he is beaten.
93rd over: India 318-8 (Pant 51, Kuldeep 0) Root regains some control, just the single from the over.
“Over the past couple of years, Kuldeep Yadav – the batsman – has transformed himself from desperately hopeless to hopelessly desperate,” writes Abhijato Sensarma. “This doesn’t account for much considering the quality of the pitch as well as England’s best spinner (Joe Root, of course). But imagine him sticking around for some time with the Irreplaceable Pant. Call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!”
92nd over: India 317-8 (Pant 50, Kuldeep 0) The full toss not as successful a venture for Moeen this over. First, Pant slams him straight back through his hands for four. Moeen winces but his fingers survive. Oh. Dear. Another full toss, Pant charges and wham bam into the stands for another . A pushed single and that’s a marvellous fifty for Pant off 60 balls.
91st over: India 307-8 (Pant 34, Patel 5) Root quietly turns down Jack Leach’s offers, rolls up his sleeves and decides he is the man to tempt Pant with his array of delicious chocolates. Pant watches for a couple of balls then slams him over mid-on for six to the shrieking delirium of the crowd.
90th over: India 301-8 (Pant 34, Patel 5) A cracking first over from Moeen, with that element of luck that any spinner needs. This England, eh.
Moeen grins, bashfully, as Ishant tries to sweep a full toss and top edges to Rory Burns, hair hanging out of his cap very much like it is stuck to the rim, at short leg. He swallows the catch gratefully, and Moeen has four wickets.
WICKET! Patel stumped Foakes 5
Lightning gloves from Foakes as Patel leans forward, is beaten in the flight and misses and with only his big toe teetering above the line, Foakes flicks away the bails. Super ball from Moeen!
89th over: India 300-6 (Pant 33, Patel 5) A fairly non-eventful maiden to start as Leach mixes up his length.
The players are out and it is actually quite hair-raising to hear a proper crowd making proper crowd noises – erratic and squeaky rather than generic and low. Bravely, given his previous encounters with Pant, Root has thrown Leach the ball – no use waiting and wondering.
Mark Butcher is on the Chennai pitch, blazered up and walking towards the camera. He speculates that Ben Stokes might be injured – but speculation is all it is right now. I’m excited/nervous to see how Pant plays this morning, and it seems I’m not the only one.
David Melhuish has had dressing problems. “This seems a fair benchmark just how engrossed I am in this series. Preparing for breakfast I distractedly tried to put my clean underpants on my head. Now where was my beanie …”
“If you are an England fan today, I’d be seriously nervous,” says Ebony Rainford-Brent in the Channel 4 studio.
Andrew Strauss, is more loyal: “I think England need to not buy into the narrative we know it is possible to bat on this pitch, just don’t look too far ahead,”
From my living room to yours, good morning! And a particular good morning to John Starbuck whose email is waiting for me like a wriggly puppy.
“Good morning, Tanya and Happy Valentine’s Day,” and to you John!
“It could be that Virat Kohli was simply waiting for a possible no0ball verdict (unlikely with Moeen) but was probably just disbelief. Ricky Ponting used to suffer from this and there was another Aussie too; the remark ‘Thought the future wasn’t too rosy’ comes to mind when he saw the bails on the ground..
On today’s play, we shall have to put up with Foakes’s chirpy chuntering again. I feel inclined to use the Biden method and remark ‘Will you shut up, man’ but then many keepers do it these days. One can’t help noticing that his sub-continental Tests had a bearing: even though we can’t understand it all, he always ends with an uptalk phrase, so maybe the environment has made him adapt.”
Ali’s top-notch report of the day’s play:
and Anand Vasu in the Chennai stadium, a piece which starts with a fabulous first two paragraphs and doesn’t disappoint.
Good morning fellow sleep-dodgers, and those pottering about in time-zones far away from this cold, rocky outpost in the North Sea. May I wish you much love this Valentine’s day, whether or not you are sharing the OBO with your beloved. Maybe the OBO could become the oblique way to send a message from the heart? I have actually had some success as a matchmaker – just ask Neil and Alex (who I can happily name as they’ll never read this.)
Enough. to the game, where India are very well set on a pitch that was breaking up on day one, thanks to a century of ready brilliance from Rohit Sharma, some solid back up from vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, and a cameo-with-promise from Rishant Pant. India finished on 300-6 which wasn’t quite thanks very much and good night, but close.
England kept their heads , produced the occasional beauty, and there were promising returns from Ben Foakes, who kept smartly, and Olly Stone who hit the nineties and dismissed Shubman Gil in his first over. It was great to have Moeen back: he still has the magic in those fingers, but was understandably rusty. He also produced the visual of the day : a bemused Virat Kohli refusing to believe the evidence of his own eyes that he’d been bowled for a duck.
This is a good pre-start read from Jarrod Kimber (also to be found analysing on Talk Sport) on England’s spinners.
Sleep is wafting her crunchy pepperpot but I managed to absorb that Moeen is expensive but bowls occasional amazeballs, Bess spins the ball but struggles with length, Leach is limited against left-handers and Ashwin is the most accurate spinner on the field( though no-one compares with Nathan Lyon). And all illustrated with handy digestible pitch maps. Right, time for a few hours kip – see you just before 4am GMT.