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Why didn’t England declare? Were they too cautious?

England bowling consultant Jon Lewis says side batted on as they did not want to give India a chance; Sky Sports’ Rob Key says tourists could have attacked more but were concerned about India’s batting line-up and should still win first Test on day five

Last Updated: 08/02/21 2:53pm

Joe Root’s England side need nine wickets on the final day against India to win the first Test (Pic credit – BCCI)

Did victory-chasing England bat on too long in their second innings against India in the first Test?
It was the question many were asking after Joe Root delayed a possible declaration – and then did not have to make the decision at all as his side were bowled out with an hour left on day four in Chennai.England spinner Jack Leach bowled Rohit Sharma with a beauty as India closed on 39-1 in pursuit of a massive 420 to win, leaving the home side needing a further 381 on day five and the visitors requiring nine wickets. 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 England bowling consultant Jon Lewis says his side “have enough in the tank” to win but will the decision not to declare come back to bite them – and why did they bat more cautiously once Ollie Pope was dismissed after tea having sped along at over four an over beforehand? England spinner Jack Leach bowled India opener Rohit Sharma with a beauty late on day four of the first Test (Pic credit – BCCI) Here are the views of Lewis and Sky Sports Cricket expert Rob Key…JON LEWIS – We didn’t want to give India a chance”We were very comfortable with the amount of overs we wanted to bowl [on Monday night]. It will give us a bite with the second new ball if required [on Tuesday]. It’s the first game of the series and while you want to get off to a really strong start you don’t really want to give India a chance to win.”Saying that, they have some fine players and you want attacking fielders around the bat for the whole of day five, especially for our spinners, so to get as many runs as we could and keep the rate high for them feels like our best chance to win the game. We are really happy where we are at – we are ahead of the game and are confident we can create enough chances to win. We just need to work hard and show the right character, do the basics really well. India have some great batters but I think we have enough in the tank to make sure we can win. England bowling consultant Jon Lewis “The guys were positive in the way they played and I don’t think it is a straightforward pitch where you can go and be reckless.”It’s a good pitch but tricky so, against experienced Indians in India, against Ravichandran Ashwin bowling well on a turning wicket, it isn’t always straightforward to smack the ball all over the place and accelerate. The guys just played the situation the best they could.”ROB KEY – Not an obvious decision to declare 1:04 Sky Sports’ Rob Key says he understands Joe Root’s decision not to declare on day four in Chennai (Pic credit – BCCI) Sky Sports’ Rob Key says he understands Joe Root’s decision not to declare on day four in Chennai (Pic credit – BCCI) “You see so many comments from ex-players and you think it is an obvious decision to declare but it’s not. England could have shown more intent, could have pulled out earlier – after tea, when Pope got out, they didn’t really go anywhere – but I reckon 99 per cent of the people commenting on it probably would have done the same thing.”Root didn’t want to give India a chance. He had safety in mind as he was worried about Rishabh Pant, Virat Kohli, this great batting line-up. He wanted to be in a position where they were just blocking rather than dangle a carrot. We can sit here and say ‘declare at 350, they are never going to get them’. But if India do get them, what impact does that have on the dressing room for the rest of the series? England have dominated for four days so to give India a bit of a chance isn’t ideal. Sir Alastair Cook, speaking to Channel 4 “There is a bit of spin but the pitch is pretty flat and slow and you look at Kohli, Shubman Gill, Ashwin, Washington Sundar. England want to bat them out of the game. They have dominated for four days and don’t want to give them a chance.”Root will be judged at the end, he might regret it but he shouldn’t. England should still win this game. “If I was Root and England don’t win, I would say to my spinners ‘Dom Bess, Jack Leach, we have set this up for you to finish. That is what you are there to do’.”Follow over-by-over text commentary of day five of the first Test between India and England in Chennai on and the Sky Sports app from 3.55am on Tuesday.


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