India were in the ascendancy at the start of day two with England reeling at 268/8. It was crucial for them to clean up the English tail without conceding many runs and then stave off the visitors’ pace attack before lunch when the ball does a bit for the fast bowlers.
A good first session was necessary for the hosts to build a platform to dominate the Test match in the post-lunch period and post-tea session when batting became easier. Thanks to Mohammad Shami’s disciplined bowling and some quality batting from Parthiv Patel and Cheteshwar Pujara, India were able to do just that and went into lunch on day two in a position of strength.
India further consolidated their position reaching a score of 148/2 at tea and it appeared that they were set for a big first innings lead with Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara going strong. However, they completely threw away that advantage with some poor batting in the final session of the day. The hosts lost four wickets that included the well-set pair of Kohli and Pujara. There were no demons that cropped up in the pitch, but poor decision making on the part of the Indian batsmen.
A fifty-run stand between Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja rescued the hosts to an extent and left them just 12 runs behind England’s total at the end of day’s play. But it couldn’t restore the position of strength India found themselves at tea. The game is evenly poised going into day three and it could prove to be a pivotal day in deciding the outcome of this Test and also the series.
The Ashwin-Jadeja duo dealt with the new ball pretty well in the four overs that they faced at the end of day two, but it could be a completely different ball game in the first 20 overs on day three. The key for India would be to not lose too many wickets early on and expose the tail to the English pace attack in these first 20 overs. Runs haven’t been too hard to come by in Mohali and the fact that India scored more than 120 runs in the final session on day two when they lost those four wickets, proves the fact.
So if Ashwin and Jadeja can play out the first 15 overs, it would repair the damage that England caused post tea on day two.
On day three, the pitch is still expected to be good for batting especially till tea. So if England bundle India out early and then make the most of those conditions, India could find themselves in a spot of bother. Batting fourth is going to be challenging for the hosts and anything above 300 will be difficult to chase down. So it is crucial for Virat Kohli and Co to have a good day with the ball, as the pitch won’t provide a great deal of assistance.
In such a scenario where the England batsman get settled at the crease, a first innings lead of over 50 runs could come in very handy. So it will be key for the Ashwin-Jadeja pair and Jayant Yadav to contribute with the bat, and then perform equally well with the ball in their hand.
The Indian bowlers will have to be disciplined to take wickets at regular intervals on this Mohali wicket. There might be some turn after tea and till then they must make sure they are in a position to attack the English batsmen and not be on the back foot.
So on day three a lot will rest on three players – Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant. They will have to perform well first with the bat and ensure India get a noteworthy lead and then work their magic with the ball. If the trio have a good day, then India will be back in the ascendancy in this Test.