Set world record target of 420, India in trouble at 39/1
Ind vs Eng, 1st Test Day 4
CHENNAI: India were left with the herculean task of chasing a world record 420 after England refused to declare in an unfocussed second essay, cut short by Ravichandran Ashwin’s brilliance on a sharply turning fourth day strip in the opening Test in Chennai on Monday.
At stumps, India were 39 for one, requiring another 381 runs to set a new record and take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series. The previous best is 418, chased by West Indies against Australia in 2003.
Relishing bowling on a responsive pitch, the seasoned Ashwin returned excellent figures of 6/61 to snap England’s second innings at 178 after the home team conceded a massive first-innings lead of 241 runs.
With opener Rohit Sharma (12) back in the hut, Shubman Gill (15) and Cheteshwar Pujara (12) will begin the proceedings for India on the fifth and final day at the MA Chidambaram pitch, which has started to play tricks.
India would have been in a bigger hole had it not been for a seventh-wicket partnership of 80 runs between newcomer Washington Sundar (85) and Ashwin, who also contributed a 31 with the bat before picking his career’s 28th five-wicket haul.
But despite the duo’s best efforts, the hosts still fell way short of the follow-on target after being bowled out for 337. India resumed the day at 257 for six.
Hoping to give their bowlers some respite from the sweltering heat, England decided against enforcing the follow-on and batted again.
But the start wasn’t the one they wanted as Ashwin bowled his off-spinners to deadly effect with the new ball, the bounce aiding him in his endeavour.
Ashwin removed Rory Burns with the very first ball of the second innings when he induced an edge for Ajinkya Rahane to take an easy catch in the first slip.
Having ambled to 16 off 37 balls, Dominic Sibley was shown the door by Ashwin, with the bounce again helping the off-spinner.
Veteran pacer Ishant Sharma was rewarded for bowling with a lot of hearth throughout the match when he had Daniel Lawrence trapped in front of the wicket with the one that snaked in.
That was wicket number 300 for Ishant, making him the sixth Indian and third pacer from the country to reach the landmark.
While 16 wickets fell on the first three days, a staggering 15 fell by the wayside on Monday and the Chepauk pitch played a major part.