Reverse-swinging Anderson stars as England go atop WTC standings

England coasted to a resounding 227-run victory against India in the first Test in Chennai, with Jimmy Anderson reverse swinging his way to 611 wickets.

The victory lifted England all the way to the top of the ICC World Test Championship standings, and if they can win two more matches matches in this series, they can seal their qualification for the marquee final against New Zealand at Lord’s.
India too will need to win two matches in the series to seal their qualification, making for a potentially exhilarating rest of the series.

The day began with India resuming on 39/1, with Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara in the middle. It wasn’t an ideal start for India, with Pujara walking back shortly into the morning, having been confounded by Jack Leach. From wide of the crease, Leach got one to pitch on middle and spit away, and Pujara could do little but fend at it.

In came captain Virat Kohli to join Gill, and the duo went about pushing back. Gill looked good for as long as he was there, notching up a third half-century in a fledgling career. He expertly dealt with the spinners, using his feet to disturb their lengths, but he was no match for Anderson, who had started reversing the ball.

Shortly after bringing up his half-century, Anderson had Gill cleaned up with a beauty. He pitched it in full, and angled it in with the reverse, completely beating Gill’s defences and uprooting the stumps. Anderson was just getting started. Three balls later, he meted out the exact same treatment to Ajinkya Rahane, who had narrowly survived an lbw appeal on the previous delivery, and India were 92/4.

Rishabh Pant, who had scored a fine counter-attacking 91 in the first-innings, couldn’t repeat the feat this time around, becoming Anderson’s third wicket when he tamely pushed one to short cover. Washington Sundar, who scored 85* in the first-innings, scored nought this time around, Dom Bess joining the party to having him caught behind. India were 117/6, with their hopes more or less snuffed out.

Ashwin and Kohli then pushed back. Ashwin bravely faced up to a short-ball attack from the Indian pacers, taking a few blows, even as Kohli showcased his class in a few strokes, in between some solid defensive play. They put up a fighting 54-run stand, during the course of which Kohli brought up his 24th half-century in Test cricket.

India were always fighting against the tide, though, and the excellent Leach broke the stand, doing Ashwin in with extra bounce. It wasn’t long before Ben Stokes got one on a crack, and Kohli’s stumps were uprooted as it kept low. Kohli looked at the pitch in frustration, and with the Indian captain gone for 72, it wasn’t long before England sealed victory.