England were unable to produce another miracle as two centuries and Jasprit Bumrah’s skill with the ball proved too much for the tourists, enabling India to level the series with a 106-run victory in Visakhapatnam.
Chasing 399 for victory, England were all out for 292, a return to reality following their Ollie Pope-inspired heroics of Hyderabad in the first Test.
Under the leadership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, England have turned themselves into chasing specialists, memorably scoring 378 for three to win by seven wickets against India at Edgbaston in July 2022, and 299 against New Zealand at Trent Bridge. But in the difficult subcontinent conditions, they were unable to add another to that list, despite a strong belief at the start of the day that they could do the impossible.
“Coming into the last innings we had full belief in ourselves that we could chase it down,” Stokes said on TNT Sports.
“The way in which we went about taking on that challenge is what we’re all about.
“There are times when you have scoreboard pressure and a lot of runs to chase down, and that’s when our approach and how we want to go about things really comes out.
“I thought today, we applied ourselves and put their bowlers under pressure and it was great. Congratulations to India, obviously we ended up on the wrong side of the result but it was another great game to be a part of.”
Zak Crawley had got England off to a promising start but the batters at the other end faltered. The Kent opener top-scored with 73, in an almost identical fashion to the first innings, but none of the other batters made more than 36.
In contrast, India’s innings were dominated by a double century from Yashasvi Jaiswal in the first innings and Shubman Gill’s 104 in the second. For England, there were no centurions, and no massive game-changing partnerships and Sir Alastair Cook believes that was where England lost the game, saying: “Scores of 60 and 70 don’t win Test matches”.
The wickets of Crawley and Bairstow in the space of five deliveries just before lunch proved the turning point in the innings. Joe Root looked uncharacteristically unlike his usual self when he came close to being out lbw only to be saved by DRS, before falling in an attempted slog-sweep to Ravichandran Ashwin.
At the start of the afternoon session, England still needed 205 but while Stokes was at the crease, there was a sliver of belief that anything was possible.
The England captain has rescued his side on numerous occasions over the years, including the miracles of Headingley in 2019, and was just getting himself settled when he was run out by a great piece of fielding and a direct hit from Shreyas Iyer.
It almost proved to be the final turning point, in a similar way to how Stokes’s heroics in the field proved to be a pivotal moment in the first Test when all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was run out.
Ben Foakes and Tom Hartley tried their best to fight back, putting on 55 runs for the eighth wicket, but it was the Lancashire spinner who became the final casualty when he was bowled by Bumrah.
The Indian seam bowler was rightly awarded the man of the match as he finished with figures of nine for 115, England proving unable to find answers to the Indian pacer’s lethal reverse-swing.
England went down fighting and will have time to rest and recover in the nine days ahead of the third Test in Rajkot, but in Visakhapatnam, they were unable to match India, who dominated the match from the outset.