England paceman James Anderson’s twin strikes in the 27th over of the Indian innings severely dented the hosts’ chances of at least drawing the first Test in Chennai on Tuesday. Anderson dismissed a well-set Shubman Gill (50) and India’s vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane in a matter of four balls to reduce India to 92 for 4 in chase of 420 runs to win at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai.
The premier English paceman, who had 606 wickets before this match, made excellent use of reverse swing with the old to find the gap through Gill’s bat and pad as the young opener departed immediately after a well-compiled three Test fifty. Gill’s knock lasted 83 balls and was studded with one six and seven fours.
Rahane, who walked in after the dismissal of Gill, survived a close leg-before decision off the second ball he faced with the delivery keeping very low and just hitting him outside the line of off-stump according to the on-field umpire. But Anderson replicated the Gill dismissal off the next ball with the ball this time hitting Rahane’s timber for a three-ball duck.
This is also the first time since 2008 that any bowler has bowled out two top-six India batsmen in one over – previous occasion was South Africa’s Makhaya Ntini, who castled VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly in the 8th over in Ahmedabad. Anderson then induced a leading edge off Rishabh Pant, which popped straight to Joe Root at short cover. Pant’s dismissal for 11 reduced India to 110 for 5.
Earlier, left-arm spinner Jack Leach provided the first breakthrough for England, getting Cheteshwar Pujara to glove a sharply spinning delivery through to Ben Stokes in first slip. Pujara had battled hard for 15 off 38 balls.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli was in the middle with first-innings hero Rishabh Pant, trying to keep India alive in the game. If England go on to win the match, Anderson will join Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis as the foreign cricketer to win the most Tests on Indian soil – four.