England’s series with India is level at 1-1 after a target of 399 to win the second Test proved to be well beyond the tourists in Visakhapatnam.

Looking to complete a chase that would have broken a host of records, England were bowled out for 292 to lose by 106 runs on an anti-climactic fourth day.

England made a strong start and reached 95-1, but the promoted Rehan Ahmed was trapped leg before by Axar Patel to signal a regular fall of wickets.

Opener Zak Crawley looked to be England’s main hope, batting with grace for his 73. When he was given lbw to Kuldeep Yadav on review, the game slipped away.

Slim hope remained in the shape of Ben Stokes, only for the captain to be run out in wasteful fashion by a direct hit from Shreyas Iyer. At that point, with 179 required and only three wickets remaining, India could breathe easily.

Ben Foakes and Tom Hartley delayed India with a stand of 56, Hartley surviving two reviews that would have given Ravichandran Ashwin his 500th Test wicket.

Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah was summoned and pouched a return catch off Foakes and when Shoaib Bashir was caught behind off Mukesh Kumar, Ashwin was given another shot at the milestone.

But Bumrah uprooted Hartley’s off stump to end with three in the innings and nine in the match, leaving Ashwin on 499 wickets going into the third Test in Rajkot on 15 February.

A step too far for England

This was a huge ask, even for an England side that has made a habit of chasing big fourth-innings targets and pulled off a stunning victory in the first Test in Hyderabad last week.

That it was thought to be possible by England, their supporters and a cautious India team says much about the way Stokes’ side have played over the past two years.

After the disadvantage of losing the toss, England was excellent with the ball, especially given their three spinners had only three previous Test caps combined.

Ultimately, the visitors were undone by a collapse of 6-68 in their first innings, when they were blown away by the brilliant Bumrah. It left them too much to do in the chase.

England will spend the break in Abu Dhabi with their families. They will hope Joe Root has escaped any serious damage to the finger he injured here and for an improvement in the condition of Jack Leach, who missed this Test with a knee injury.

Stokes’ men will rest knowing they have already achieved more on this tour than some thought they might. England will see the next three Tests as an opportunity, but they are also an incredibly difficult proposition.

England fade after strong start

England captain Ben Stokes walks off after being run out
England lost the crucial wickets of Crawley, Bairstow & Stokes for only 26 runs

On Sunday evening, James Anderson had talked about England trying to chase down their target inside 60 or 70 overs on Monday. From 67-1 overnight, England started brightly, with Crawley driving Bumrah and Ahmed attacking Axar.

India retreated, and there were gaps where England could score, but Ahmed’s misjudgment in playing back to Axar opened the door.

There can be debate over whether England’s aggression tipped into recklessness, though only Root’s dismissal was ugly. Perhaps affected by his finger, he was skittish for nine balls in which he hit two fours, and a six and survived an LBW review. From the 10th he aimed a wild swipe at Ashwin and was caught at point.

Crawley played beautifully for his second half-century in the match and was perhaps unlucky to be lbw on review to Kuldeep’s fifth delivery of the day. Jonny Bairstow was pinned in front by Bumrah on the stroke of lunch.

Stokes was playing himself in and came through Bumrah’s post-lunch burst, then fell in bizarre fashion. Called for a single by Foakes, Stokes dawdled and was beaten by a direct hit from Shreyas at mid-wicket.

Foakes and Hartley showed spirit, Ashwin was given a long bowl in an attempt to reach his milestone, but eventually, Bumrah needed only six deliveries of a new spell to produce the slower ball that out-foxed Foakes.

Mukesh became the first seamer other than Bumrah or Anderson to take a wicket in the series and the stage was set for Ashwin, only for Bumrah to whistle through Hartley’s defensive grope.


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