England face defeat after losing three wickets following Ashwin centuryon February 15, 2021 at 11:47 am

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A century from local hero Ravichandran Ashwin heaps misery on England in the second Test against India in Chennai.

Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates
Second Test, Chennai (day three)
India 329 (Rohit 161, Moeen 4-128) & 286 (Ashwin 106, Moeen 4-98, Leach 4-100)
England 134 (Ashwin 5-43) & 53-3
England chasing 482 to win

Ashwin made 106, sharing 96 with Virat Kohli, who scored 62, to take India to 286 in their second innings.

Given lives on 28, 56 and 70, Ashwin added a hundred to his first-innings five-wicket haul for the third time in his career. Only the great Sir Ian Botham has achieved such a feat more often in Tests.

Set a notional 482 to win on a pitch often exploding when the ball lands, England lost three wickets in the 19 overs possible on the third evening.

After Dom Sibley was lbw to Axar Patel, Rory Burns edged Ashwin to gully and nightwatchman Jack Leach survived only two balls to leave the tourists 53-3 at the close.

With so much time left in the game, a draw is out of the question, with the four-match series set to be level at 1-1 going into the day-night third Test in Ahmedabad that starts on 24 February.

India show the way

For two days, the pitch has been the subject of much debate – whether the excessive turn on offer from the beginning of the match is suitable for Test cricket.

Still, even accounting for the advantage the India gained by winning the toss, the main reason for their dominance on Saturday and Sunday was their superior performance, and they rammed home their advantage to give the conditions further context on Monday.

As well as England’s spinners have bowled – Leach and Moeen Ali have shared 14 wickets – they have not been able to exert the same control as their India counterparts, with a loose delivery rarely far away.

With the bat, Ashwin and Kohli showed that run-scoring is possible – particularly against the older, softer ball – if batsmen can find a way to get in.

As if to emphasise England’s shortcomings, Sibley had only three to his name when he tried to work Axar on the leg side and was palpably leg before.

Burns showed admirable intent in his 25 but made the mistake of closing the face on Ashwin to offer a leading edge, exposing Leach, who turned Axar to leg slip.

Ashwin delights home crowd

At the beginning of the day with India 54-1 and 249 ahead, their dominance was near total, but England were still able to reduce them to 106-6 through bowling of Moeen and Leach and the brilliant wicketkeeping of Ben Foakes.

It was at that point that Ashwin joined Kohli, the skipper already showing greater focus than a first innings when he was embarrassed by Moeen.

As Kohli showed solid defence, sweet timing and crisp footwork, Ashwin scored with greater fluency, sweeping regularly on the way to a half-century from only 64 deliveries.

He was dropped at slip off Stuart Broad by Ben Stokes, with Foakes missing a thick edge off the same bowler standing up the stumps. Ashwin also could have been caught and stumped off the same Moeen delivery, only for Foakes to fumble.

Kohli’s dismissal, lbw, again to Moeen, was Ashwin’s signal to push on. He was on 77 when joined by last man Mohammed Siraj and hurried through the 90s with a mighty slog-sweep for six off Moeen.

With the crowd cheering every delivery Siraj survived, there was an eruption when Ashwin edged Moeen to go to three figures and, after he was bowled by Olly Stone to become the last man to fall, there was further delirium when he removed Burns.

More to follow.

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