India v England: Ishant Sharma says hosts can chase 420 to win first Test

2 weeks ago
Ishant Sharma

India will target victory and not just survival on the final day of the first Test against England in Chennai, says seamer Ishant Sharma.

The hosts closed day four on 39-1, chasing a Test record 420 to win.

“If we get a good start, I am sure we can chase this down,” Ishant told Channel 4.

“We have a fearless batting line-up. We are very positive so it’s about how we start and then we can think about how we go through the game.”

A total of 15 wickets fell on day four as India – 257-6 overnight – were bowled out for 337, a first-innings deficit of 241.

Having opted against enforcing the follow-on, England made 178 in their second innings before Jack Leach bowled Rohit Sharma in the 13 overs possible before the close.

A dry pitch is showing increasing signs of wear, and uneven bounce and reverse swing look likely to be factors as England attempt to take nine wickets in a minimum of 90 overs on the final day.

“For the first two days I thought we were playing on a road. But yesterday it started to spin a bit more,” said Ishant, who removed Dan Lawrence to become only the third India seamer to take 300 Test wickets.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan told The Cricket Social: “I can’t see India getting the runs and Ishant is playing a bit of kidology to throw that seed into the minds of the England team.

“It’s going to be so hard for a batsman to start on this surface. They’ll need a big, big partnership because there will be wickets that fall in clusters.”

India chased 387 – at the time the fourth highest pursuit in Test history – to beat England at the same venue in 2008.

“We’re really happy with where we’re at, with that many runs on the board,” said England bowling consultant Jon Lewis.

“We’re ahead of the game. We’re confident we can create enough chances to win the game tomorrow. We’ve got enough in the tank to make sure we can win.”

Last month India pulled off a remarkable pursuit of 328 to become the first side to beat Australia at the Gabba since 1988.

Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant made a superb unbeaten 89 in that game, and hit a counter-attacking 91 from 88 balls in India’s first innings on Sunday.

“Rishabh Pant plays the way he plays,” said Lewis. “In our eyes, he takes high-percentage risks. In his eyes he probably thinks he takes low-percentage risks.

“We have plans for every India batsman, which I’m not going to share with you here. We’ll stick to trying to get the percentages in our favour.”

The second Test of the four-match series starts on Saturday, also in Chennai.

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