England batsmen urged to stay positive as India close in on second Test win
England might seem destined for defeat after failing to match India on a turning track in Chennai, but Joe Root’s side have been told to go down swinging in the second Test.
England on the back foot
India rode on the back of Ravichandran Ashwin’s fifth Test century to establish what should surely be an impregnable lead on day three, then left England 53 for three chasing a distant 482.
With spinners Ashwin and Axar Patel getting the ball to talk on a pitch that has spun sharply from the first session, and wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav also on deck, a series-levelling home win appears the only logical outcome.
But Jeetan Patel, travelling with the team as a spin bowling coach, insists timid batting is not an option.
“It’s about staying positive. We’ve got stroke makers in the group and we want them to express themselves,” he said.
“If we sit back and try to defend for two days we’re not going to have much success and not going to go anywhere in the game. I’m not about to say we’re 100% going to win this game but we are going to shake a stick at it.”
England will resume with number three Dan Lawrence hoping to build on a bright cameo of 19 not out and captain Joe Root the key man with two to his name. He will consider himself fortunate to get another chance after being trapped on the back foot by Patel shortly before stumps.
He was given not out on the field, a decision upheld by DRS – which judged the point of impact as ‘umpire’s call’ despite Root seemingly being struck clearly in line.
Patel admits fault
Patel admitted he would have been “disappointed” not to get the decision in his playing days and tactfully avoided any criticism of India captain Virat Kohli’s animated reaction as he confronted the umpires.
“I feel he plays at his best when he’s passionate, he’s excited about what’s happening and he’s got his influence,” said Patel.
“It’s not for me to get involved in. It’s for match referees, people who have watched the game, they can make their decision on that. For me, that’s the way he gets the best out of himself, the way he gets the best out of the crowd and his team-mates follow him.”
Patel expressed satisfaction at Moeen Ali’s performance, with four wickets in each innings including the double over Kohli, but it remains uncertain if he will even be in the country for the last two Tests.
Moeen Ali could be headed back home
Moeen suggested at the start of the series that England’s rest and rotation policy had him pencilled in for a break back home after the second Test. No final decisions have been made on the squad yet, but one stray comment suggested Dom Bess could be back sooner rather than later.
“Dom had a high workload and looked tired at the back end of that last Test match,” Patel said.
“With a three-day turnaround it was better off for him to take time out and come back for that third Test in Ahmedabad, hopefully.”
No complaints about the pitch
Both teams poured cold water on criticisms over the pitch, with the more extreme takes foundering somewhat as Ashwin made his ton from number eight.
Patel, offering the England take, said: “We understand it all as a playing group, maybe it’s an educational thing for someone outside the group. You’re in the sub-continent: wickets spin. They don’t seam around, the ball gets softer quicker, it doesn’t seam as much, so there has to be something in the wicket.”
Axar Patel, who took two wickets late on before being denied Root’s scalp, added: “It is spinning normally. We are also playing on the same pitch and making runs. So nobody should have reservations about the pitch.
“When we go outside India and get seaming tracks, we don’t say that the pitch has too much grass. People should change their mindset rather than thinking about the pitch too much.”
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