Kohli-Ashwin partnership helps India take 351-run lead into Lunch on Day 3


A solid 50-run partnership between captain Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin helped India take firm control of the 2nd Test against England. At lunch on Day 3, the hosts are placed at 156/6, and hold a massive 351-run lead.India began the day 249 runs ahead of England, and they didn’t get off to the best of starts. Cheteshwar Pujara was run out for 7 in bizarre fashion early in the piece as his bat got stuck in the pitch. Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant failed to occupy the crease for long, leaving Kohli and Ashwin to steady the ship.Ashwin pulled out a wide range of sweeps against the England spinners, and has moved to 34 off just 38 balls. He was handed a repreive by Ben Stokes, who spilled a sharp catch at first slip off Stuart Broad.Kohli, on the other hand, was circumspect throughout his innings. Trusting his defence and playing with a straight bat, the Indian skipper has notched up 38 off 86 balls. He put away the bad balls and ran hard between the wickets, and appeared assured on what is certainly a tough pitch to bat on.India in prime position to level the series 1-1 Ashwin swept and reverse swept confidentlyWith 8 sessions left in the Test match, India are firmly in the driver’s seat. If Kohli and Ashwin can stretch this lead by another 50 runs or so, England will be set a target of over 400.Given that they scored only 134 in the first innings, it will be an impossible task for them to chase down the target and take a commanding 2-0 lead. As things stand, Kohli’s men are in prime position to level the 4-match series 1-1.This Test is important in the context of the World Test Championship, as India need to beat England in this series to make the final against New Zealand.
Published 15 Feb 2021, 11:49 IST

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“I am extremely impressed with Rishabh Pant’s keeping today” – Sunil Gavaskar


Sunil Gavaskar has lauded Rishabh Pant for his excellent glovework behind the wickets in England’s first innings of the second Test in Chennai.Rishabh Pant held two acrobatic catches on the second day of the Test to get rid of Ollie Pope and Jack Leach. He also looked assured while keeping on a tough track, with Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel getting the ball to turn and bounce viciously.I have enjoyed these two catches from Rishabh Pant as much as I have enjoyed his batting….— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) February 14, 2021While reviewing the day’s proceedings on Star Sports, Sunil Gavaskar spoke in glowing terms about Rishabh Pant’s wicketkeeping and his desire to learn.The former Indian skipper disclosed that Ricky Ponting, Pant’s head coach at the Delhi Capitals, was also effusive in his praise for the youngster’s willingness to put in the hard yards.”I am extremely impressed with Rishabh Pant’s keeping today. I spent a lot of time with Ricky Ponting recently in Australia and he was praising Rishabh Pant’s work ethic a lot. He was telling that Pant is a young player who wants to improve,” said Gavaskar.”Ponting told that when Pant had come for the IPL he was a little over-weight. So, when he was asked to reduce his weight a little, he put a lot of hard work and lost a lot of weight and was back to his normal weight when he reached Australia,” added the former Indian batsman.”Rishabh Pant thinks a lot about his cricket” – Sunil Gavaskar Rishabh Pant has been preferred over Wriddhiman Saha because of his match-winning abilities

Sunil Gavaskar pointed out that Rishabh Pant has also been learning the tricks of the trade from Wriddhiman Saha.”We have also heard that Rishabh Pant sits with Wriddhiman Saha every evening and discusses about wicket-keeping. Everyone knows that Wriddhiman Saha is the No.1 keeper if we talk about only wicket-keeping but the Indian team needs an all-rounder who can play destructive knocks just like Rishabh Pant is doing, because of which he has been selected ahead of Saha,” observed Gavaskar.The cricketer-turned-commentator concluded by stating that Rishabh Pant is a thinking cricketer although he may seem like a happy-go-lucky character.”Pant is still trying to learn from Saha by giving him the respect and it is because of that we are seeing the improved wicket-keeping performances. This guy looks carefree the way he bats but thinks a lot about his cricket and it is a very good thing for Indian cricket,” Sunil Gavaskar signed off.Rishabh Pant certainly stood out behind the stumps in England’s first innings of the second Test in Chennai. However, the fourth innings of the Test will present an even bigger challenge, and a good performance there will give him immense confidence.
Published 14 Feb 2021, 18:14 IST

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Knew the pitch would turn from Day 1: Ajinkya Rahane 


Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has admitted that the hosts were aware that the surface at Chepauk for the second Test against England would start turning from the first day itself.Following India’s 227-run defeat in the first Test in Chennai, there were speculations that the pitch for the second Test at the same venue would be a rank turner.India won the toss and batted first, reaching 300-6 at stumps, thanks to a belligerent 161 from Rohit Sharma and a well-compiled 68 from Ajinkya Rahane.Speaking at the end of the first day’s play, Ajinkya Rahane described the conditions as ‘something to be expected’ in India, when he said:“I thought it was proper Indian conditions, and we knew it (the pitch) would turn from day one.”On what the team’s thinking was after winning the toss and batting first, Ajinkya Rahane said that it was all about building partnerships.“We were talking about partnerships – Rohit and Pujara, and then Rohit and myself. We were discussing intent – positive intent on this wicket. What happened in the first game was (in the) past,” observed Ajinkya Rahane.You can’t be too defensive on this wicket: Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane observed that the wicket is a tricky one to bat on due to the amount of turn it offered on Day 1. Hence, defensive play on this surface could be fraught with risk. Elaborating further on the same, the vice-captain also praised Rohit Sharma’s hundred, saying:“You can’t be too defensive on this wicket, and need to be one step ahead of the opposition. We discussed in our batting meeting on what shots to play, and we had to make them change the game-plan. And that’s what Rohit did (playing sweeps). 150-plus on this wicket is really good. I enjoyed the cover-drive against Moeen Ali against the spin.”While Ajinkya Rahane (67) and Rohit Sharma (161) added 162 runs for the fourth wicket, England fought back well in the last session. The visitors dismiss both batsmen and Ravichandran Ashwin (13) as well, but India ended the day on the ascendancy.On the plan for Day 2, the Indian vice-captain said that one more decent partnership could see the hosts take control of the game, saying:“Add another 50-60 runs from here. One more partnership from Rishabh and Axar…we’re in the game. When they were adjusting the pace and bowling quicker through the air, it was difficult.”

At stumps on Day 1 of the second Test in Chennai, Rishabh Pant was unbeaten on 33, while debutant Axar Patel was giving his fellow left-hander company on 5.
Published 13 Feb 2021, 18:19 IST

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Virat Kohli will score 1-2 hundreds in the series: Michael Vaughan  


Michael Vaughan expects Indian skipper Virat Kohli to end his run drought with one or two centuries in the ongoing Test series against England.Virat Kohli last recorded a Test ton in November 2019 against Bangladesh. Although not a lot of cricket was played in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 32-year-old failed to score a single international hundred. It was the first such instance of Kohli going a full year without a century since making his international debut in 2008.In the ongoing Chennai Test, Virat Kohli looked more defensive than usual and got out for just 11 runs to Dom Bess. Interacting with Cricbuzz, Vaughan backed Kohli to regain his form, but called the Indian captain’s dismissal ‘weak’ for a batsman of his stature.“I won’t be too concerned and I’m sure he isn’t concerned. Throughout the series, he will get 1-2 hundreds. I have no question about that, The manner of his dismissal today was weak for Virat Kohli. He defended the ball outside the off-stump with an angled bat facing towards wide extra cover. There is nothing in that shot. As a young kid playing the game, you don’t defend an off-spinner outside off stump because you want to be keeping the face of the bat towards the ball. You play with an angled bat, and if there’s bounce, it goes to short leg. So technically, it wasn’t a great dismissal for Virat Kohli,” said Michael Vaughan.Reeling at 73-4, the pair of Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara revived the Indian innings. Washington Sundar (85*) gave the final push, but the hosts could only score 337 runs, 241 short of England’s first innings total.”I am surprised Virat Kohli just let Dom Bess bowl” – Michael Vaughan Michael VaughanDom Bess was the best bowler for England, with the off-spinner returning with figures of 4-76. Michael Vaughan said he expected Virat Kohli to be more proactive and dominating against the unfledged spinner.”I would have expected Kohli to dance down early to Bess. ‘I’m Virat Kohli, I know how to play in these conditions, against a young off-spinner and I’m going to put you under pressure. I was surprised that he just let him bowl. He was hoping for bad balls and hoped he may get one or two,” Vaughan said.

The former England skipper further added in this regard:“I thought he was just trying to play today. I know that sounds simple. I think Virat’s a better player when he comes out trying to be aggressive. When his feet are moving and he’s looking to dance down to the spinners to put them under pressure. You’ve got to remember that Virat Kohli is facing Dominic Bess. He’s a work in progress. He’s young, he’s inexperienced. He’s got great character but this is Kohli against Bess.” It remains to be seen if Virat Kohli manages to score an international century in more than a year in Team India’s second innings.Kohli looking at the release and what tricks Dom Bess doing from the non-striker end – he has been doing this through his career and most great players does this. pic.twitter.com/b9f6OQv9mS— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) February 7, 2021
Published 08 Feb 2021, 12:35 IST

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