India are dominant in this second Test match and barring an extraordinary fourth innings entrenchment by the England batters will take a 1-0 lead in this series.
Not is all lost for England as this is a five-match series and even in this match, despite their parlous position, they have shown plenty of spells of highly competitive cricket.
However, what they have failed to do is put together a sequence of sessions and that has allowed India to slowly exert a stranglehold on the game.
It started with the toss. The pitch was already cracked on the first morning so batting first and scoring in excess of 400 was imperative. India delivered, mostly through captain Virat Kohli supported by Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravi Ashwin. Then when England batted Ashwin teased and tormented and claimed his first five-wicket haul against England.
He was superb and the difficulty for the England batters is gauging the spin, bounce and when to attack. He bowled beautifully but even he was made to work hard by Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow. They added 110 for the sixth wicket and are now the world leaders in partnerships for 2016. The statistics are superb, 772 runs in cahoots at an average of 110 and the sixth wicket pairing has been England’s strongest all year with 1,759 runs. It highlights the quality of those that have batted there and that includes Moeen Ali, but also demonstrates the lack of quality higher in the order.
If England are to compete, not only in the remainder of this series but also at the top of the ICC Test rankings as they have stated then they have to find some top order batters to complement Alastair Cook and Joe Root. Sides do not win when scrabbling around the follow-on as England have done here.
It is very difficult as two of the top four are brand new to Test cricket. Haseeb Hameed is only 19 years old and then Ben Duckett is only just 22. Both are highly talented but it is hard for a team to consistently score enough runs with 50 per cent of the top order so tender in years and experience. Then to accommodate the bowlers Moeen is batting at five, one if not two spots too high. Basically England are one experienced proven batter short. Ashwin is too good, the number one ranked bowler in the world and a most artful and cunning off-spinner to not prosper against such a weak top order.
India in contrast have Kohli who in the late evening demonstrated quite how brilliant he is. The pitch is wearing, the ball starting to keep low and no batter looked secure except he. But it was not only his security that impressed but the fact that he actually scored so freely and to all intents and purposes appeared to be batting on a completely different pitch.
It was masterful and his half-century stopped England’s mini resurgence. When he came to the crease England had once more fought back hard with the ball.
They had just avoided the follow-on and then taken two early wickets via the old warhorses Stuart Broad and James Anderson. The lead was 220 and England just had a glimmer of hope but Kohli was imperious.