The Rohit Sharma-led side set England a target of 399 runs, a figure no team has ever successfully chased in the fourth innings of a Test match against India or, in India. Despite the statistics, Shubman Gill gave England a 30 per cent chance of scripting a record chase in the second Test in Visakhapatnam and go 2-0 up in the five-match series. Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen agreed with the India No. 3, explaining that the hosts “wasted their opportunities” to hand the visitors a bigger target as he blamed Ravichandran Ashwin for the act.
If it was Yashasvi Jaiswal who waged a lone battle against the England attack in the first innings, it was Gill in the second, as his maiden century batting at No. 3 for India, powered the home team to 211 for four. However, in a space of just 49 deliveries, India lost three quick wickets – Gill, Axar Patel and KS Bharat.
Speaking on air during the final session on Day 3, Pietersen wanted Ashwin, India’s final batting hope, to carry the momentum forward and keep the pressure on the England attack. But the veteran batter was left bemused at the all-rounder’s lack of intent. Ashwin scored 29 off 61 balls as India managed only 28 runs for the loss of four wickets in the final session.
“The innings is going absolutely nowhere. India are bossing the game, they are well ahead in the game, but they have made the game stand still,” Pietersen said.
After Kuldeep Yadav’s dismissal for duck, Ashwin stitched a 26-run stand in 70 deliveries with Jasprit Bumrah, where he kept denying singles, in his strategy to protect the India No. 10 from Rehan Ahmed. Bumrah faced 26 balls in that partnership for no runs.
Former India head coach Ravi Shastri too was left fuming at Ashwin’s batting, calling it a “bizarre” knock after the home team’s innings ended for 255 runs with his dismissal.
“It was difficult to understand,” he added. “If you look at where they were at Tea, India should have aimed at 430-440. Instead, they came out and did not keep the scoreboard moving.”
Pietersen believed the same. Despite feeling that India took the overall honours for Day 3 in Vizag, he felt the hosts could have inflicted more damage on England with Ashwin wasting a big opportunity with the bat.
“Day 3 belonged to India. They did waste their opportunities though. I don’t know what Ashwin was doing with the tail. They were 211 for four before being bowled out for 255. So they wasted the opportunity of drilling England. If they could have gone over 400 or 450, it would have been 100 per cent a result for India,” he told Jio Cinema at the end of day’s play.