India fear England’s Bazball approach, says James Anderson

James Anderson celebrates/India fear England's Bazball approach, says James Anderson
James Anderson removed both of India's openers in their second innings - Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP

James Anderson believes India’s nervous second innings batting showed they feared England’s chasing prowess as the second Test promised another breathless conclusion.

England reached stumps 67 for one, with Zak Crawley and Rehan Ahmed, who volunteered to go in as the “nighthawk”, at the crease in their pursuit of a record 399 to win.

Anderson says England’s approach – which has seen them peel off big chases, including 378 against India at Edgbaston in 2022 – brought out “nerves” in their batting. England pulled off a remarkable turnaround in Hyderabad last week and Anderson says they think they can do it again.

“I think the nerves were there to see today, the way they batted, I think they didn’t know how many was enough,” said the 41-year-old.

“They were quite cautious, even when they had a big lead. The chat last night from the coach [Brendon McCullum] was that if they get 600, we were going to go for it. It makes it very clear to everyone that we will try to do it tomorrow. I know there are 180 overs left in the game, but we will try to do it in 60 or 70. That’s the way we play, and we saw that tonight with Rehan going out and playing his shots.

“We have set our stall out, tomorrow will be no different, we will play the same way we have the last two years.

Asked if it was satisfying to see India go into their shells, Anderson replied: “Yeah definitely. There’s been moments throughout the last two years, particularly in the last 12 months, that makes us think we’re doing something well because the way teams have reacted. Going back to the first ball of the Ashes having point on the boundary sends a message to us we’re doing something right.

“I don’t know if intimidating is the right word, but it’s putting different thoughts in oppositions’ minds and captains’ minds. It definitely felt like that today – it felt like they were unsure what a good score would be against us. The wicket is still pretty good, the odd one’s keeping low but you expect that. Also what we’ve seen today is Shubman [Gill] played brilliantly – it does show there’s still scores to be made out there. We’ve got so much quality in our dressing room, there are guys in there who can maybe get 150 for us tomorrow and win us the game. We’re really happy.

“Today was even better than day one. The way the three young spinners bowled was brilliant. They kept coming and coming, and didn’t give up at any stage, even when Shubman was playing really well. Stokesy would manoeuvre the field around but they delivered their skill brilliantly. The way they stuck at it, the calmness they showed was outstanding for young lads.”

One blow for England is uncertainty over their batting lynchpin Joe Root’s fitness. He took a blow to his right pinkie while warming up in the morning and exacerbated it trying to field a ball at slip off Anderson. He spent the afternoon getting the injury iced, rather than on the field available to bowl. He is expected to bat on day four and was not due for a scan on Sunday evening.

“His finger is not great,” said Anderson. “Yeah he’s just been looking after it basically. He took a knock on it this morning in practice I think. He then took one in the field as well. Just making sure it’s as good as possible for tomorrow. There’s a chance we will need him with the bat so it’s making sure he can hold a bat.

“I don’t think there’s concerns. It’s making sure he’s as good as he can be. There’s no point risking it for an external blow, no point risking it further out in the middle, so it’s making sure he’s good enough to bat.”

Anderson was delighted with his performance, picking up five for 76 in his first match since a tough Ashes series.

“As a player you want to contribute to the team and this summer I didn’t do that, so I felt disappointed from that point of view,” said Anderson. “What the time away did do, it gave me a chance to think about what I can improve on. It also gave me time to work on my fitness, knowing coming to India, it’s a hard place to come as a seamer.

“I’m obviously delighted with the five wickets but I think I’m more pleased with the fact I got through 35 overs in three days. I felt strong when I was doing it as well. All that work I was doing in the last few months has really paid off and that’s probably the most satisfying thing for me.”

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