Home ANALYSIS 7 Reasons why India lost to England in the first test at...

7 Reasons why India lost to England in the first test at Chennai


England beating India at Chepauk in the first test was a major alarming headline for all Indian Cricket fans as Joe Root, Dom Sibley & Ben Stokes batted beautifully and the bowling of Dom Bess, Jack Leach & James Anderson was the catalyst for the English success. This is only the 4th loss by India in India in tests since 2012, 3 of them coming against England. Joe Root won the Man of the Match for his performance in his 100th test but we look at the other reasons behind India’s failure in this match.

India’s opening combination didn’t provide the necessary platform in both innings (Image Source: Twitter.com)

#1. Rohit Sharma looked tentative.

Rohit Sharma is usually associated as a batsman who can score runs at will but someone who also likes to take his time early on in his innings in any format of the game. Even during this period, Rohit is never shy of punishing the bad balls away and being decisive with his footwork and shot selection.

This match was a case of Rohit being slightly on the curious side in his attempt to feel the ball on the bat and also seemed worried to step out to the spinner in case the ball does something odd. His dismissal to Jofra Archer in the first innings was a ball on the 5th stump line which Rohit would usually leave early on but he flirted with his bat and the extra bounce got the nick of his bat. In the second innings, Rohit who usually dominates the spinner with his footwork looked worried and totally played down the wrong line and the spin took his off stump.

It is important for Team India that Rohit comes out with clarity in his thought process when he comes out to bat and knowing the world-class talent he is, it’s only a matter of time before he comes out with the clutch for his team and provides a solid start.


#2. Indian bowling tactics lacked consistency and the plan of an X-factor.

We saw in Australia how on bouncy tracks and the shuffling feet movement of the Aussie batsman, Indians had a gameplan with their leg stump line which did succeed for bowlers like Siraj, Ashwin, and even Sundar. The track in Chennai has considerably less to offer in terms of bounce and even very minimal spin on offer for the Indian finger spinners on Day 1 & Day 2 of the first test.

The Indian spinners persisted with the leg stump line and the leg-side field which worked in favor of Dom Sibley who had issues in more turning tracks in Sri Lanks around the off stump and Joe Root who has an absolute wand of a sweep shot. To add to that the field placing had obvious issues with lack of catching players where needed which is why even the odd good ball didn’t create an opportunity.

Nadeem also opted to bowl with the middle and leg stump line in the first innings which totally did not suit his style of bowling and neither did the field placements suit him in case he went towards the off stump to target the English weakness. The first innings turned out to be a tactical disaster for India in terms of bowling tactics, field placements and fielding itself as England batted 190 overs on a flat pitch.


#3. Dom Sibley and Joe Root’s grit along with the flamboyance of Ben Stokes.

Dom Sibley was assumed to be a soft target by many fans of Team India after his considerably poor start to the tour of Sri Lanka where runs were hard to come by for the England opener and he seemed to be at the mercy of the Sri Lankan spinners. It was the fourth innings in Galle where he showed a trailer of his mental strength and his enhanced technique which he picked up on the job in Sri Lanka. Those aspects came of great aid to him at Chepauk where he tackled the spinners with a solid defense, good footwork, great wrist work, and the odd moment of aggression when needed. His 87 runs of 286 balls was a credit to him and it set up a massive opportunity for England.

Joe Root was playing his 100th test and his class in any condition is undeniable. He is an exceptional player of spin with his quick dancing feet, his smashing cover drives and cuts, elegant wrist work, and an absolutely demoralizing sweep shot that only yields big runs. His 218 runs of 377 balls was a faultless display and to add to that his quickfire 40 in the second innings was momentum-changing, to say the least.

Ben Stokes came out with an aggressive attitude on Day 2 to take it on against the Indian spinners and quicks alike. He was watchful early on but one of his textbook on-drives got him going and from that moment on to his dismissal he was totally dominating the Indian bowling.


Jack Leach with two brilliant performances brought back the memories of Panesar in 2012 (Image Source: Twitter.com)

#4. England’s Orthodox Spin Bowling.

While India seemed to have at times complicated spin tactics, the English spin duo of Dom Bess and Jack Leach kept it simple. Bess was brilliant in the first innings when he was hitting the cracks and the rough around the 4th stump line and took the key wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, and Rishabh Pant. It was a clinical spell of 4 for 76 which put India on the backfoot.

The second innings was a story of the revival of Jack Leach. He was absolutely smoked around the leg-side boundary by Rishabh Pant in the first 5 overs in his 1st innings wherein Leach almost conceded 50 runs in 5 overs. He started the second innings with the new ball along with Archer and on a Day 4 pitch that was a spinners paradise, the ball turned and bounced to assist Leach.

Leach got the important wicket of Rohit Sharma with a dream ball for any left-arm spinner hitting the top of off stump. He further hit the rough and kept the ball around the off-stump forcing the batsman to play at it every ball. His consistency was rewarded with another peach of a delivery to Pujara and just like the first innings he got the wickets of Ashwin and Nadeem to end up with 4 for 76, just like his partner Dom Bess in the first innings.


#5. Poor Technique by Indian Batsman to Reverse Swing.

The ball showed that it had the ability to reverse swing in the 2nd bowling innings of India with Bumrah and Ishant getting the ball to tail in towards the shiny side but it was very well negotiated by the England Batsman. The key to their success was the bat always came down straight towards the umpire and they didn’t leave any gap between the bat and pad in both innings. It meant that even if the ball did not reverse, they wouldn’t outside edge the ball and they could always adjust at the last moment.

James Anderson pulled a rabbit out of the hat on Day 5 where he started reverse swinging the ball in the first session. His over got rid of Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane. There is no doubt that they were the Gems of Jimmy which brought back memories of Nagpur 2012. The Indians couldn’t deal with the tailing ball as the bat always came down at the angle of playing towards the cover area and which also in-turn left a lot of gap between bat and pad to allow the ball to go through it. Even if it didn’t, LBW was always on the cards.


#6. Ajinkya Rahane’s form against spinners.

Ajinkya Rahane was one of India’s headline makers in the recent tour to Australia. His couple of excellent batting knocks and top-class captaincy was key in the success of Team India down under. Having said that, Ajinkya Rahane has had a torrid time off-late in India while playing spinners which is so difficult to believe from a batsman of his class. He averages only 25 against spin in India and has gotten out an alarming 19 times to spin in India since England toured here in 2016/17.

Ajinkya Rahane looked to counter the same against Dom Bess in the first innings but instead, he stepped out and hit a full toss to cover which was a brilliant diving catch by Joe Root. He never looked settled against Anderson in the 3 balls that he faced and he was knocked over by Jimmy. Virat Kohli gave positive news to all Indian fans in his post-match comments wherein he reinstated that Rahane is a vital cog of this Indian batting setup but it is also time Rahane backed it up at home in the remainder of the series.


#7. The selection of Nadeem over Kuldeep didn’t work out.

With the troubles that English batsman had against the left-arm orthodox spin of Embuldeniya in Sri Lanka, Shahbaz Nadeem was picked over the much-debated choice of Kuldeep Yadav, a left-arm chinaman spinner. The idea was that it brought a much-needed variety with Sundar and Ashwin taking the ball away from the left-handed batsman but Nadeem could take it away from the right-handed batsman.

The ploy didn’t work for India as Nadeem didn’t get the right fields for his style of bowling. His bowling tactics were also more focused on the leg stump for the right-handed batsman. He didn’t get the purchase of the pitch in the first 2 days as a finger spinner which probably a wrist spinner like Kuldeep Yadav or even a Rahul Chahar could have gotten from the pitch. His expensive figures in both innings do suggest that the selection didn’t work out the way India expected it to be.


The series is beautifully poised now for the 2nd test at Chepauk and hopefully, Team India can come up against the challenges set by England at Chepauk.

Also Read: Double Centuries scored in the 4th innings of a Test


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  1. Ishant was troubling Joe Root in the first inning, he should have given two overs more when Root was new to the crease. Root’s wicket at that stage could have turned fortunes for Indian team

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