India v England: first Test, day five – live! – The Guardian



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WICKET! Rahane b Anderson 0 (India 92-4)



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WICKET! Gill b Anderson 50 (India 92-3)



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Gill to 50!



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WICKET! Pujara c Stokes b Leach 15 (India 58-2)



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Preamble

Hello everyone, especially the most enthusiastic of you who have logged on well before play in the middle of the night – respect. You want to see nine wickets in a hurry. That makes sense – a quick game is a good game, and all that. However, you won’t need me to remind you what I witnessed with my own eyes at the Gabba a few weeks ago: this Indian team don’t know what quitting means. This is more Sydney than Brisbane, but a fifth-day job is a fifth-day job.

The main difference this time around is that Chennai is Chennai. The pitch, as Gary Naylor pointed out in his correspondence to the OBO yesterday, is a gorgeous tint of orange, in the best traditions of Tests played at this glorious ground. When the spinners get it right, as Ashwin did yesterday (and Leach too when dismissing Rohit with a beauty), the ball leaps and turns covered in a puff of dust of its own making. With men around the bat, the task to survive hour after hour in these conditions is as tough as Test cricket gets.

When the seamers are in operation, deliveries will shoot through with enough regularity that one feels bound to have your name on it. The only question is whether you can get your bat down in the nick of time or if the ball is going to smash into your ankle or your woodwork. To survive, India need to get through 90 overs of this.

But the most impressive trait of this Indian side, whether they are led by Kohli or Rahane, is that they don’t accept convention. As crazy-brave as it might seem on the face of it, they would have gone to bed last night with the 381 further runs for victory on their mind rather than saving the Test. It’s how they are hardwired, especially fearless young stars like Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant. On the basis of their presence alone (and Kohli, let’s not forget) all four results, at least theoretically, remain on the table as we resume.

We’ve had such a fine run of Test cricket so far in 2021, from Karachi to Chittagong to Galle to the Gabba. Let’s see if Chennai can join the party and this ends with a thrilling finale. I can’t wait. Drop me a line any time, or hit me up with a tweet if that’s more your style.

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