James Anderson believes that England are still “running the game” against India despite needing a record run chase to win the second Test in the series.
If England reach their target for victory in the remaining two days then it would be the highest run chase in the second innings of a Test match in India, but with Shubman Gill telling TNT Sports that England had a 30% chance of winning, Anderson reflected on the mood of the camp.
“We feel we’re running the game,” Anderson told TNT Sports. “We got sat down by the coach last night and he said if India get 600 ahead we’re going to try to chase it down. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.
“I think we stuck at our task today. They put on a partnership at one point. I thought the way the spinners kept going and kept toiling was brilliant, and now we’re in a position where we’re gonna give it a good crack tomorrow.”
Anderson helped his side with two early wickets on Sunday, and he acknowledged that the bulk of the work falls to spinners in India.
He continued: “For me, you know out here as a seamer you’ve got a limited chance to bowl. It’s going to be a lot of workload for the spinners, so I just focus on every ball trying to be in the right spot, trying to bowl good balls every time.
“Sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn’t, but today fortunately, I got a couple of early ones, set us off well, and allowed the spinners to do their thing from the other end.”
Ahmed’s positive end to the day with the bat was highlighted by Anderson as indicative of England’s aggressive approach.
He said: “We sent Rehan [Ahmed] out and the tannoy said ‘nightwatchman’ and we’re like, ‘no he’s not,’ he’s going out there swinging, out there in the last over and he’s still trying to hit boundaries. He’s of that age to be confident, after bowling 20-odd overs saying, ‘I want to get my pads on, skipper.’”
Gill, who top-scored for his side with 104, suggested England were still in with a decent chance of victory, and despite setting a target of 399, thought his side should have done more.
“Definitely very pleased but I think I left a bit out there to be honest, we were in a good position and we could have scored a bit more runs but overall I think it was a good effort,” he began.
Gill rued the manner of his exit, saying he should have been more conservative after being caught by Ben Foakes off Shoaib Bashir’s bowling when attempting a reverse sweep.
He explained: “I saw the point fielder, I thought on that wicket it was a percentage shot but not in that situation where there are five or six overs to go. Maybe I should have played those five or six overs and got the runs after tea.
“I think it’s a pretty decent wicket to bat on, run scoring it’s not an easy kind of wicket where you can hit on the rise. I think it’s a wicket where you have to apply yourself because the odd one is turning, the odd one is keeping low. Hopefully if we get the right amount of balls in the right areas we’ll get the result tomorrow.”
Like Anderson, he struck a positive note about his own side’s chances, saying: “I think we are pretty much in the game, I think it’s about 70-30 at the moment. The morning session will be very important. We have seen there is a bit of moisture, especially for the fast bowlers and the spinners, especially in the first session.”
Speaking in the TNT Sports studio, former England captain Alastair Cook marvelled at the impact that coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes had on other teams with their attacking outlook to run-scoring.
“This is the effect of Bazball,” he stated. “I think we saw the effect in the last session there. I can’t remember an Indian side, ever, the last four or five overs to go, not having anyone around the bat to their spinners. They’d just got Ben Duckett out, even Ben Duckett when he was in, they had slip and they might have had a gully. But not to have a short leg or a silly point, it’s almost mind-boggling, the effect this has had on the opposition.”
He continued: “No other side has got anywhere near this on the subcontinent. We’re talking about it as if there is a small possibility only because of what Ben Stokes has drilled into this side and what this side has done.
“They’ve got a world class spinner [Ravi Ashwin], who’s got 500 wickets, it’s turning, it’s spinning, got Ben Duckett trying to play the sweep shot – can’t play it because of the extra bounce and turn – and there’s no one round the bat to Ahmed and Zak Crawley.
“If I was out there batting in previous times, you’d definitely have short leg, silly point, you’d probably have five men round the bat, and that’s pressure.
“But because of that impact that Ben Stokes and this England team have had on world cricket, sides are so scared of the runs that they’re scoring, they’re not doing it. England are having it easy.
“Zak Crawley is going to play such an important part tomorrow because his ability to score the rate he does and how hard he can be to bowl at – such a boundary-hitter – he is vital tomorrow morning.”
Former England pace bowler Steve Finn agreed with Cook on Ashwin’s field placements, and with Anderson on the example Ahmed set.
He said: “Their bowling has experience, their batting lacks experience in that middle order, but Ravi Ashwin typically bowling in this scenario, with almost 500 Test wickets, you’d think there would be noise, there would be guys around the bat, you’d feel the pressure.
“But the manner in which this team has played is putting pressure on the opposition. Rehan Ahmed as well, auditioning for the role of Stuart Broad’s nighthawk right at the end, taking 10 off that last over is the kind of thing we just haven’t seen before.”
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