Veteran James Anderson’s artistic spell of reverse swing trumped Virat Kohli’s show of grit as England decimated India in the opening Test by a comprehensive 227-run margin in Chennai on Tuesday. A target of 420, with 381 left on a fifth day worn out Chepauk track, was always a tough ask going by cricketing logic and Anderson’s mid-morning burst blew away the Indian middle-order. In the end, the hosts could manage only 192 in 58.1 overs. That spell ensured that there wasn’t a Sydney like heist or the magic of Brisbane final day which many had hoped for despite the world record target. Kohli (72 off 104 balls) seemed like a lonely general standing on a burning deck as he showed his colleagues how to bat on a difficult track.
Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra offered a philosophical take on the loss. “Life is wonderful. It always tells us to expect the unexpected; To never underestimate the chances of the challenger. I’d also like to believe that our team are great scriptwriters. They know that you need tragedy to set the stage for great triumphs,” he said on Twitter.
Life is wonderful. It always tells us to expect the unexpected; To never underestimate the chances of the challenger. I’d also like to believe that our team are great scriptwriters. They know that you need tragedy to set the stage for great triumphs… https://t.co/4pHMOJORsG
— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) February 9, 2021
Kohli covered the swing and shuffled towards the off-stump to counter Anderson, ran purposefully and scored his runs against spinners.
But there was that one ball that was always going to keep low and he got that from Ben Stokes.
“I don’t think we put enough pressure on them with the ball in the first half…credit to England, they got stuck in and put up a big total on the board,” Kohli conceded in the post-match presentation.
“England were far more professional and consistent throughout the Test match than we were,” he added.
Courtesy Anderson (11-4-17-3), the match became a mismatch within an hour and India now need to win two out of the next three Tests to qualify for the World Test Championship final in June. The player of the match honours went to England skipper Joe Root for his match-defining double hundred in the first innings.
It was left-arm spinner Jack Leach (26-4-76-4), who after his first innings humilation at the hands of Rishabh Pant, finished with the best figures but the effort paled in comparison to the effect that Anderson had on the psyche of the Indian team.