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England beat India as inspired Anderson, Leach seal first Test win

Any Test win in India is a special achievement. This is India’s first Test defeat at home since March 2017, and just their 51 matches in the country. They have not lost a home series since England won in the country in 2012.

And England have dominated this one since winning an important toss on Friday. Captain Joe Root’s run glut continued with a double century in England’s 578, which allowed them to set India a mammoth of 420 in 103 overs.

The criticism of Root’s non-declaration seemed a lifetime ago as England cruised to victory.

By stumps on day four, Leach had set England on their way with the wicket of Rohit Sharma.

A stunning performance on the final day saw them pick up the nine remaining wickets with more than a session to spare.

England have won their last six Tests away from home, and their last six in Asia, since 2018. Either seemed unthinkable as recently as the turn of last year, when they were 1-0 down in South Africa. Under Root, they have not lost in 11 matches since.

It was Leach who set them on their way once more on day five, having Cheteshwar Pujara caught at slip with another stunning delivery, which drifted, turned and bounced, taking the outside edge.

Without a cloud in the sky and on a pitch that was a rusty red, more like the clay of Roland Garros than Wimbledon’s lush green grass, these were the conditions that Anderson’s increasingly absurd critics tell you he flounders.

Bowling from the Anna Pavilion End, Anderson knew that there was a spot, on a good length, that caused the ball to shoot through on day four, leading to Dan Lawrence and Root’s lbws. He knew, too, that the ball could veer violently back into the right-hander, due to reverse swing.

Four of Anderson’s first five balls were all dangled outside off stump, arcing in and hitting that exact spot. Shubman Gill defended the first to midwicket, but the second glided between bat and pad, knocking back off stump. After a wider one did not swing, the fourth hit Ajinkya Rahane on the pad, and only the umpire’s not out call saved him on a tight review. Never mind, because next ball, the same stump was cartwheeling on exactly the same angle it had minutes earlier. Rishabh Pant survived the final ball of a staggering over that had changed the complexion of the challenge England faced.

Pant is a left-hander, so did not need to worry about that spot on the pitch. So Anderson preyed on his craving for bat on balls, and soon enough a cutter stopped in the pitch and was plopped to short cover. Anderson would end his spell of 5-3-6-3 with his average in India below 30. This year he is taking his wickets in Asia at under 10.

In the following over, Dom Bess – who generally struggled for consistency – had Washington Sundar caught behind, and before lunch Jofra Archer took over from Anderson, hitting R.Ashwin on the hand, wrist and head.

India captain Virat Kohli remained England’s main obstacle. After lunch, he passed 50 in a solid partnership with Ashwin that was ended when the latter injudiciously cut Leach, and caught behind.

When Ben Stokes got one to stay low to Kohli, it was only a matter of time before the tail was wrapped up. Leach dismissed Shahbaz Nadeem to finish with four for 76, then Archer had Jasprit Bumrah caught behind.

The four-match series continues at the same stadium on Saturday. England have the dream start.


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