India finally squared the series by blowing away England by 317 runs in the 2nd test. Apart from the win to keep them within striking distance of WTC finals qualification, there were various takeaways for India from this test.
Rohit Sharma has started opening for India since 2019 and scored heavily in the home series vs South Africa . However subsequent injuries prevented him from playing in overseas tests in New Zealand . More recently he played 2 tests in Australia but could not built on his starts . Low scores in 1st test have further fuelled strong debates on his opening spot . Finally a high quality century on a very difficult pitch to bat on has settled all debates. This was a very valuable knock by Rohit to extend his test career and for his opening slot . It seemed that he almost batted on a different pitch to others on 1st day . This was a big plus for India in this test.
Ravichandran Ashwin was always expected to take wickets in India but his brilliant 100 on a diabolical pitch on 3rd day would have made any leading batsman proud. Ashwin’s batting had stagnated in last couple of years with his average going down but his match saving 39 at Sydney followed by this outstanding century on 3rd day of 2nd test vs England proved that he has rediscovered his batting talents . Bodes very well for India going forward .
Till recently Kuldeep Yadav was talked about as India’ s 3rd best spinner after Ashwin and Jadeja . However the brilliant debut of Axar Patel at Chennai 2nd test has changed all that. The left arm spinner had a top class debut taking 7 wickets in the match with five in the 2nd innings admittedly on the helpful surface. However his line and length , accuracy , bowling on the stumps consistently and bowling sensibly within his limitations has caught the eye of all experts who have praised him highly . Plus being tall , he can extract some bounce also and therefore difficult to sweep . A handy batsman too , Axar Patel has definitely raised his stocks as one of India’s leading spinners after just one test. Definitely a big plus for India going forward.
Till recently the debates were raging in India whether Saha should keep in home tests on spinning pitches . However Rishabh Pant after his huge batting feats in Australia as well as in this series have finally now began to realise his potential as a very good keeper . The confidence from his batting is percolating into his keeping and that was evident in the 2nd test where he kept brilliantly to both pace and spin on a challenging surface. He took two brilliant catches off fast bowlers and his two stumpings on 4th day were excellent and some of his takes on uncertain bouncing deliveries showed that he has worked very hard on his keeping of late. Pant has thus totally silenced all speculations of playing different keepers home and away. Experts Harsha Bhogle and Michael Vaughan spoke very highly of Pant ‘s keeping after the test . Its definite now that Pant will be India’s first choice keeper . This is a huge takeaway for India from this test .
One hopes that the confidence that the above players got from their great performances in this test will be taken forward in future games as India prepare themselves for the 3rd test .
** by Amitava Mukherjee