There was much for India to cherish from the Mohali Test, which game them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the five-match series, with two Tests to go. But, if there is one aspect that stood out as the difference between the two sides, it was undoubtedly India's lower order batting in the first innings. Remember, chasing England's 283, they were in a spot of bother at 204 for 6. But, from that point, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav rallied brilliantly to help India cross 400. Thanks to the spin trio, the lead swelled to over 100, and that eased the burden on India as they chased a small target in the fourth innings. Had it not been for the lower order resistance, things might have been different.
A number of players stood up for India at Mohali, but it was undoubtedly Jadeja, who made the biggest impression with his all-round show. While his bowling has always been incisive in Indian conditions, there has been plenty of criticism of his batting, especially in Tests. At Mohali, he proved what he is capable of, with an innings that put India in a position of command. Although, he would be disappointed with missing out on a hundred, the knock should give him confidence to perform similar rescue acts in the future. Ashwin, on the other hand, yet again proved his worth as an all-rounder. In what was an unexpected bonus of sorts, Jayant shone with both bat and ball.
Apart from the all-round show from the spinners, Mohammed Shami also impressed with the new ball. The two excellent deliveries he bowled to break England's resistance on the final day gave further proof of his wicket-taking ability at key moments. Another big plus was the effort of the recalled Parthiv Patel with the bat. He still needs to do some work on his keeping though. The worries for India at the top of the order remained though as Murali Vijay had another poor match. With Lokesh Rahul also injured India would be in a dilemma for the next Test, especially with Parthiv succeeding. The continued poor run of Ajinkya Rahane will now be beginning to worry India.
England would rue the fact that they could not make full use of batting first on the surface. India gave them a number of gifts by dropping four chances, but England's batsmen returned the favour by giving their wickets away to some extremely poor strokes. Skipper Alastair Cook would have been particularly disappointed to not have made a big score. His troubles against Ashwin is a definite worry for the team. When Cook gets a big one against India, it invariably translates to a good performance by England. The fact that Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes failed in both innings with the bat proved to be a major handicap for the Englishmen.
England struggled because their batting was a one-man show in both the innings. If Jonny Bairstow held things together in the first innings, Joe Root did the slog work in the second, but there was little in form of support as the others fell around them. A lot of credit though should go to young Haseeb Hameed for the manner in which he battled it out in the middle under pressure. In spite of injury, which has ruled him out of the series, he ensured that England had at least something to bowl at in the fourth innings. Speaking of England's bowlers, Stokes bowled his heart out, and was rewarded for the same. Adil Rashid too was among the wickets again. But, James Anderson went wicketless, which basically means England struggled.
--By A Cricket Analyst