After gaining a first innings lead of 241 runs, England did not show any inclination to declare their second innings even after having an overall lead of more than 400 runs. The Joe Root-led side were eventually bowled out for 178 runs in their second essay, less than an hour before stumps on the fourth day.
While speaking on Star Sports, Sunil Gavaskar stated that the visiting team’s tactics were unfathomable. He even light-heartedly mentioned that it seemed like England were bound to give their lower-order a chance to bat in both innings of every Test match.
“Their tactics were beyond my understanding. The way they extended their innings, it seems like their bowlers – Jimmy Anderson, Jack Leach and Dom Bess – their contract says that they will bat twice in every Test. Otherwise, they should have declared. If they had declared earlier, their bowlers would have got more overs,” said Gavaskar
If England are delaying the declaration with India’s Gabba chase in their minds, then their think tank need to be told that there’s something different here at the Chepauk — conditions. They’ve enough on the board. Should declare now #DoddaMathu #INDvENG
— ದೊಡ್ಡ ಗಣೇಶ್ | Dodda Ganesh (@doddaganesha) February 8, 2021
The former Indian captain pointed out that England might regret their decision to delay the declaration if they are unable to dismiss the hosts on the fifth day. He highlighted that the visitors are better placed to win the match and should have shown greater urgency.
“It should not be a situation tomorrow evening that India has lost 8 or 9 wickets at a score of 280-300 and England are not able to win the match because they do not have overs left. I don’t think the Indian team can score 380 runs tomorrow, the way Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli bat, they can come close but to get to a 420-run target on the fifth day is very difficult. So England has greater chances of winning this match,” added Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar also hit out at England’s defensive field placements, especially for a batsman like Cheteshwar Pujara, who was not looking to play aggressive shots.
“The way they set the fields today, it was beyond understanding. England always has these defensive tactics and the same was seen today. The captain does not have faith in his bowlers. He has kept a deep point and deep square leg fielder for Pujara, who doesn’t play the sweep shot,” concluded Gavaskar
England’s defensive tactics have drawn criticism throughout the first Test in Chennai. The visitors continued to bat into the third day of the encounter even after crossing the 500-run mark in their first innings.
They may have taken a prudent decision by not enforcing the follow-on to give their bowlers some rest. However, their tactic of not forcing India to bat a few more overs on the fourth day gives an indication that they are more keen on avoiding defeat rather than going for a win.
England’s mindset is let’s not lose this test match – rather than, what’s the best way to win this test match and how many overs could we need ! This batting on decision is now putting a lot of pressure on England’s bowlers and particularly their spinners !
— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) February 8, 2021