India vs England: Can Bazball strike again as Ben Stokes’ side attempt record run-chase in India?

England seamer James Anderson: “The chat last night from the coach [Brendon McCullum] was that if they get 600, we were going to go for it”; follow over-by-over text commentary of the second Test in India from 3.45am on Monday (first ball at 4am)

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James Anderson says that England are ‘going to go for it’ as England need 399 runs for victory against India in the second Test

Can Bazball strike again as England look to pull off the unthinkable and chase down a record target of 399 to win the second Test in India?

England closed day three in Vizag on 67-1, reducing the equation to a further 332 required after battling their way back into the contest by dismissing India for 255 in their second innings.

James Anderson was instrumental in that, kick-starting the day with the wickets of openers Rohit Sharma (13) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (17) before Shubman Gill (104) scored a third Test century to ensure England still have a sizable mountain to scale.

Not that this England side, led by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, fear the task, with 41-year-old Anderson even proclaiming after the day’s play: “The chat last night from the coach was that if they get 600, we were going to go for it.

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Michael Atherton says that India are favourites to win the second Test but you can’t discount England.

  • England make strong start to record chase in India
  • Second Test scorecard: India vs England
  • Day Three, Vizag – as it happened

“We’ve got so much quality in our dressing room and there are guys in there who can maybe get 150 for us and win us the game.”

Anderson added: “They were quite cautious even when they had a big lead. I think the nerves were there to see in the way they batted. I think they didn’t know how many was enough.

Image: India's Shubman Gill scored his third Test century against England on day three

“I don’t know if ‘intimidating’ is the right word but we’re putting different thoughts in opposition’s minds and captain’s minds.”

And you can understand why. England have chased down fourth-innings totals of 279-plus on four separate occasions since the McCullum-Stokes era started in the 2022 summer, with three of those sitting within the team’s top eight record run-chases of all time.

The largest of those came against India when Stokes’ side successfully reeled in 378 to beat the tourists by seven wickets at Edgbaston in 2022, with the captain boldly proclaiming after the match: “There was a bit of me that wanted them to get to 450, just to see what we’d do.”

Ben, you’ve got your wish. Sort of.

England’s record run-chases in Test cricket

Target (Score) Opposition Venue Date
378 (378-3) India Edgbaston July 2022
359 (362-9) Australia Headingley August 2019
332 (332-7) Australia Melbourne December 1928
315 (315-4) Australia Headingley August 2001
305 (307-6) New Zealand Christchurch February 1997
299 (299-5) New Zealand Trent Bridge June 2022
297 (298-4) Australia Melbourne March 1895
296 (296-3) New Zealand Headingley June 2022

The 399 set in Vizag may be 51 shy of that marker but it would be a new record chase, not only for England but by any team in India, ever, with conditions certain to be very different over the next two days to those England encountered 18 months or so ago at Edgbaston.

Former captain, Sir Alastair Cook told TNT Sports: “England’s 378 they chased at Edgbaston was on a belting wicket, the sun was out and India could not stop them scoring.

“India have so many more options here in the sub-continent. If there is a partnership, you can bowl the ball in the rough, you might get reverse-swing – and we saw how effective that was with [Jasprit] Bumrah in the first innings. That’s why the odds are so much against England.”

Image: India fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah took 6-45 on the second day in Vizag, triggering an England collapse

He added: “It’s going to require something special from one of England’s players, or probably two of them, if they’re to get anywhere near this total.

“The Axar Patel wicket – the ball keeping low – is the reason why fourth-innings chases in India are so hard.”

Athers: England capable of ‘having a crack’ at record target

As Cook suggests, there are certainly two key factors England are going to have to negotiate if they’re to pull off a remarkable victory in this second Test and take a 2-0 series lead: reverse-swing and variable bounce.

Axar was going along nicely for 45, for example, having shared in an 89-run partnership with Gill, before Tom Hartley got one to shoot along the deck and pin him lbw.

Image: England spinner Tom Hartley celebrates the wicket of India's Axar Patel on day three in Vizag

That said, Sky Sports’ Michael Atherton believes this is still a good enough pitch for England “to have a crack on”.

“As far as Indian pitches go, this is a pretty good one to have a record run chase on,” he said. “We’ve seen pitches in the past that have really broken up and started to disintegrate by the fourth and fifth day. There was no sign of that today.

“The odd ball keeps a bit low and obviously you’ll get a little bit of spin, but it’s not sharp spin.

“It’s still going to be very tough and they’ve got some quality bowlers. Bumrah and [Ravi] Ashwin will be the key.

He added: “I wouldn’t discount this England team under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum from doing anything and they had an absolutely brilliant day today.”

The threat of Bumrah’s reverse-swing will certainly loom large as, after all, England were going along very nicely in their first innings at 114-1 until the Indian quick returned in the 24th over, blowing the middle order away with a spell of 3-3 either side of lunch on day two – first-Test centurion Ollie Pope sent packing by a devastating in-swinging yorker that dismantled his stumps.

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Zak Crawley praised Jasprit Bumrah for his figures of 6-45 after England collapsed to 253 all out in the first innings

Bumrah would ultimately finish with outstanding figures of 6-45 as England crumbled to 253 all out, digging themselves a 143-run first-innings hole that they’re now trying to fight their way out of.

The visitors needn’t look too far for inspiration, however, as, albeit in different circumstances, they trailed by 190 runs before turning things round in the first Test for a famous 28-run victory in Hyderabad. Write this team off at your peril.

“I’ll hold my hands up: with England 190 runs behind after the first innings of the first Test match, I did not think they would win that game,” Cook told TNT Sports.

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Speaking on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast, Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain weigh up how good Ollie Pope’s 196 was as England won the first Test against India

“What it took was an unbelievable innings from Ollie Pope for them to win that game and it’s going to require something like that again, some genius innings, but they do have the potential to do it…

“There’s people probably sat at home thinking we’re mad for even thinking they can do this in the fourth innings, in India, against their three spinners.

“They might not get anywhere near it tomorrow. But there’s only one England side I know that could, and it certainly isn’t the one I played in.”

Follow over-by-over text commentary from the second Test between India and England, in Vizag, live on and the Sky Sports App from 3.45am on Monday (first ball at 4am).

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