India ended an eventful Day 1 of the second Test against England in Chennai on 300/6.
Both England and India had their moments during the day, but the hosts would be the happier of the two teams at stumps on Day 1. Rohit Sharma’s 161 and Ajinkya Rahane’s 67 were the highlights for India, as the hosts took full advantage of the conditions after winning the toss and electing to bat first.
England’s spinners found some joy in the first and last sessions of the day but largely played second fiddle to India’s batsmen. The visitors will be wary of the rank turner they are playing on, and will have their task cut out when they come out to bat later in the Test.
Day 1 of the second India-England Test in Chennai had several memorable moments. On that note, here are the top three talking points of the day before the two teams resume proceedings on Day 2.
#1 You never doubt Rohit Sharma in India
Rohit Sharma came into the second Test under pressure. While he purred in Australia, he was guilty of throwing away his wicket on several occasions. After his failure in the first Test in Chennai, Rohit Sharma hit back at his critics in some style.
He scored a belligerent 161, his seventh Test century and first against England, but how he scored those runs was a testament to Rohit Sharma’s class.
The right-hander looked at home from ball 1, and confidently went about his business. While the other batsmen struggled with the turn England spinners were extracting from the pitch, Rohit Sharma raced to a 50 in better than a run-a-ball, doing so off just 47 deliveries.
The opener brought out the sweep shot to keep the dangerous Moeen Ali in check. He used his feet to unsettle Jack Leach, never allowing the bowler to settle after getting dismissed off a jaffa last time out.
More importantly, Rohit Sharma got runs for the team when they needed the most. With a big first-innings total crucial for India, Rohit Sharma has scored more than 50% of his team’s runs on Day 1.
It shows that irrespective of his form, Rohit Sharma’s class makes him a permanent fixture in the side, no matter the colour of the ball. With his glorious knock, the opener has shut up his critics in pure Rohit Sharma style.
#2 Things will move quickly in this Test, and the spinners are likely to have a huge say in the proceedings
India made their discontent with the pitch in Chennai clear after the first Test. The placid surface didn’t turn as much as the hosts expected. Combined with the fact that England batted first and used the pitch when it was at its best, India came into the second Test hoping home conditions would suit them.
And sure they did. There was a puff of dust visible as early as the eighth over, as the England spinners got the ball to grip the surface. The conditions suited the spinners so much that even the visiting captain Joe Root rolled his arm over and got a wicket.
Jack Leach showed the virtues of discipline, bowling with a nagging line and length to stifle the Indian batsmen; the left-arm spinner picked up two wickets on Day 1.
Looking at the turn on offer, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav will be licking their lips at the prospect of bowling on this wicket.
The surface has also shown signs of breaking down at a much rapid pace than in the last Test. That should augur well for the hosts' prospects, as they won't bat last on this surface.
While the previous Test lasted five days, this rank-turner full of roughs and patches could see spinners on both sides dominate proceedings.
It may not be a surprise if this Test concludes by Day 3 or 4. Simply put, the team with the better spinners is likely to win this one.
#3 The real Stuart Broad needs to stand up
With the in-form James Anderson rested for the Test, many were content knowing that Stuart Broad was a worthy like-for-like replacement for his 38-year-old colleague.
That is because, Broad has 517 Test wickets to his name. Moreover, the policy of rotating the two veteran pacers in sub-continent Tests has worked well for England in the past.
However, the experienced bowler didn’t do much on Day 1, failing to make the most of his opportunity against India.
Stuart Broad was expensive in his first spell, as Rohit Sharma drove the pacer on multiple occasions. Even when he bowled with the old ball later, Broad couldn't get much reverse swing. The result was a wicketless Stuart Broad conceding 3.4 runs per over.
In fact, it was young Olly Stone who was the pick of the England pacers on the day. He ran in hard, and consistently pitched the ball on a good-length. Tight with his lines, he asked questions of Team India batsmen throughout the day.
The youngster trumped Stuart Broad on Day 1 and even got a crack with the new ball ahead of the experienced pacer.
With Ben Stokes bowling just two overs, Stuart Broad needs to step up and support the other bowlers. As the senior-most English bowler on the field, the 34-year-old will hope for better fortunes in the Test.