England fall short in record chase as India win to level Test series

England ran out of miracles as their hopes of making history ended in a thumping 106-run defeat in the second Test against India.

The odds were stacked against the tourists from the start but they pitched up on day four in Visakhapatnam with real belief that they could do the unthinkable by chasing 399 – a target no England side has ever reached before and more than any side has ever made batting last on Indian soil.

Instead, their knack of turning cricketing logic on its head deserted them and they were knocked over for 292 to level the five-match series at 1-1.

Jasprit Bumrah took nine wickets in the match (Manish Swarup/AP)
Jasprit Bumrah took nine wickets in the match (Manish Swarup/AP)

They decisive moment came just before lunch, when top-scorer Zak Crawley (73) and fourth-innings dangerman Jonny Bairstow both fell lbw in the space of five deliveries. That turned an already dominant position into a bulletproof one for India, leaving England captain Ben Stokes as their last roadblock to victory.

He has rescued plenty of lost causes over the years but was only just getting started when he was brilliantly run out by a side-on direct hit from Shreyas Iyer. Stokes was slow off the mark and paid for his hesitation, but it still needed a perfect throw from the fielder.

Stokes was not alone in playing a part in his own downfall, with Joe Root ending a brief and chaotic innings with an unusually ugly shot.

England went down fighting but an India side with the two highest scores of the match, Yashavi Jaiswal (209) and Shubman Gill (104), and the best bowler in Jasprit Bumrah, who took match figures of nine for 91, were worthy winners.

Despite having two full days to reach their mammoth target, England made no secret about their attacking intentions. The first session showed that was not just talk, with 127 runs scored and 86 in boundaries, but the price tag of five wickets was too steep to bear.

Rehan Ahmed, promoted late on Sunday evening as England’s so-called ‘nighthawk’, was the first when he stayed back to Axar Patel and fell lbw for 23. But his contribution was always likely to be a bonus and the arrival of Ollie Pope felt like the start of the real contest.

From the moment he stroked his first ball for four through cover his intent was clear but despite five quickfire boundaries, all off Patel, he looked error-prone. The mistake came when he slashed at a good ball from Ashwin, who had Rohit Sharma to thank for a sharp one-handed catch at slip.

Crawley was showing greater authority at the other end, converting his overnight score of 29 into a polished half-century. Twice he showed the full face of the bat and drove star seamer Bumrah back down the ground and he used his long stride well to manufacture a half-volley off Patel.

Root, who has been troubled by a painful finger injury, is more than capable of the same kind of control but did not look himself during a short stay. Two of his first three balls went for four, a perfectly timed reverse sweep followed by a ricochet off the glove, and he charged down the pitch to belt Patel for six.

The next ball was perilously close to pinning him lbw, saved by a whisker on DRS, and he was gone in Ashwin’s next over. Rather than relying on timing he threw the kitchen sink at a slog-sweep and sprayed a leading edge off the toe end.

Crawley now had the responsibility of making the big century England needed to stay alive but it was not to be. Mis-reading the wrist-spin of Kuldeep Yadav as he attacked from a leg-stump line, he was given lbw after a smart review by Sharma.

That was more than enough to give Indian the upper hand but Bumrah had one more up his sleeve. Bairstow was the victim this time, beaten by a sliver of movement off the pitch that trapped him in front.

The afternoon began with a lofty 205 still needed and Stokes carrying a familiar burden. He looked in determined mood but paid dearly for easing into what looked a regulation single to midwicket. Iyer only had a split second to get everything right but his pick-up and throw was outstanding.

A dejected Stokes stopped to speak to Ben Foakes before departing but, although the wicketkeeper shared an eighth-wicket stand of 55 with Tom Hartley, England’s race was run. Both men fell for 36, with Hartley last to fall when Bumrah ploughed down his off stump.

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