Virat Kohli believes India delivered on the challenge to show "fearlessness" against England as the hosts scorched to a series-clinching victory in Ahmedabad.

A crushing win by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium sealed a 3-1 triumph for India, capping an impressive recovery after going down to defeat in the opener.

The first two Tests were played in Chennai, with the third and fourth in Ahmedabad, and once India were jolted to form by their early setback they found dominant form.

"I think the comeback pleased me the most," Kohli said. "I think the first game was a bit of an aberration, in the way that we play as a team.

"There was just a hiccup and I think England outplayed us. From the next game onward it was more exciting cricket and we got into the game early."

India have booked a showdown with New Zealand in the World Test Championship final, which is due to take place in England in June, at Lord's if COVID-19 conditions allow.

"Now we can accept we are in the final," Kohli said. "It was more of a distraction until now for us, because we are a side that is very committed to playing Test cricket and these extra things can be a distraction.

"Now we are in the final which we can't wait to be a part of."

India had a host of star performers against England, with a number of outstanding contributions in the final match. Rishabh Pant was named man of the match after his stellar century and Axar Patel took nine wickets to reach 27 from his first three Test appearances, having forged an outstanding spin partnership with Ravichandran Ashwin.

Kohli pointed to Rohit Sharma's 161 in the first innings of the second Chennai match as the most telling contribution in the series.

"Ashwin's obviously been a banker in the last six, seven years in Test cricket – his numbers speak volumes for what he's done in the last few years," Kohli said, speaking at the post-match presentation.

"But I think Rohit's knock was the defining moment in us coming back into the series, getting 160 on that pitch is as good as a 250 on any good batting wicket

"It's definitely one of his best Test knocks, if not the best, and that gave us the kind of momentum we needed as a side and really got us into the contest. It was an outstanding innings."

Kohli explained: "After the first game, we had to up our body language. We spoke about the fact that nothing's a given whether you're playing at home or away.

"Every team at international level is a quality side and we need to be at our A game to be able to beat them and that's exactly what our mindset is.

"I know in future we'll have hiccups, we'll have a few things that will be of concern, but we'll have to keep ironing them out and that's been the hallmark of our team.

"Our bench strength is as strong as it's ever been and that's a great sign for Indian cricket.

"The idea was to have youngsters who come in and perform with fearlessness, take the situations on, so when the transition happens eventually it's not difficult for Indian cricket and the standard doesn't fall below what we have set in the last few years."

He pointed to Pant, Washington Sundar and Axar showing tenacity with the bat in India's innings in the fourth Test. 

"These are the kind of situations where individuals stand up and say, 'Okay, I'm going to make a mark and make a name for himself and be that player that can be counted on', and that's exactly what they've done," Kohli said.

Ben Stokes said his heated exchange with Virat Kohli was an example of "two blokes who care what they do" after the England all-rounder was accused of hurling abuse at an India bowler.

Paceman Mohammed Siraj claimed he was targeted after bowling to Stokes, which led him to call captain Kohli to deal with the situation.

Kohli stepped in and words were exchanged before the umpires intervened, with the episode occurring before lunch on day one of the fourth Test in Ahmedabad.

Stokes went on to make 55 in England's 205 all out, with India reaching 24-1 at stumps in reply.

England star Stokes attempted to defuse the situation by declaring it a case of "two professionals showing they care about the sport they love and enjoy".

He added: "A lot gets said nowadays when two guys seem to come to words out in the middle. Completely nothing untoward. Two blokes who care what they do.

"Nowadays in cricket it's a massive talking point when you see two opponents having a word with each other. People seem to not lose their heads but seem to think it's all wrong.

"Look at it from a different way - it's two, three guys who care about what they're doing, care about who they're representing, playing against each other.

"We're competitors so we're not going to back down to anyone, whoever it may be."

Stokes was suffering with a stomach upset on day one but managed to get through his duties, which including serving as an opening bowler for the first time in a Test match.

England selected only one frontline paceman in James Anderson, with Stokes ready to step in whenever seam at both ends may be order of the day.

Given he was feeling unwell, Stokes admitted it was a day of mixed blessings.

"I won't go into details but I've had better days," the 29-year-old said in a post-match news conference.

Asked whether he could continue to play uninhibited for the rest of the match, Stokes said: "I'll just to have see, day by day."

England's latest disappointing day with the bat was one that Stokes did not shy away from.

After being swept aside in two days in the third Test, also in Ahmedabad, England can still salvage a series draw but must win this week.

"I think we're more than capable of scoring 300 on a wicket like that, so it's frustrating," Stokes said, "but we can't dwell on it too much.

"It was nice to get a wicket there at the end of the day.

"I know it's a much better wicket than it was in the last game we played here."

India captain Virat Kohli has criticised the "narrative" around spinning pitches ahead of the fourth and final Test against England. 

The hosts hold a 2-1 lead in the series going into the match, having bounced back from a heavy opening defeat inspired by Joe Root's double century to record wins of their own in Chennai and Ahmedabad. 

During the latter two encounters, India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel found prodigious turn, with the third Test over inside two days as England were dismissed for 112 and 81. 

India's 145 all out was perhaps the most eyebrow raising score though, as Kohli's opposite number Root claimed 5-8 with his part-time off-spin. 

Nevertheless, Kohli insists the scrutiny given to playing surfaces that offer early assistance to spin bowlers is disproportionate when set against those where seamers enjoy an advantage. 

"I totally believe that there's always too much noise and conversation about spinning tracks," he said. 

"Unfortunately, everyone sort of plays along with that narrative and keeps making it news. 

"If a Test match happens and we win on day four or day five, no one says anything. If a match finishes in two days everyone pounces on the same issue. 

"It has always been the case that spinning tracks come into focus way more. When the ball seams on a particular pitch and teams get bundled out for 40, 50 or 60, no one writes about the pitch. It's always about bad batting. 

"I think we need to be very honest with ourselves. What space are we talking from and what is the idea behind continuing this narrative? What purpose does it serve people who keep coming this conversation, which is quite one-sided?"

Bad batting was a huge part of the problem last time out according to Kohli. 

The teams reconvene at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday for a traditional red-ball Test, with questions also having been posed over how easy it was to pick the pink ball used in the day-nighter. 

"I don't understand why a cricket ball or a cricket pitch, all these things are brought into focus," Kohli countered. 

"Why don't we focus on the fact that the batsmen were just not skilled enough on that pitch to play properly. 

"It was a bizarre display of batting by both teams. I will continue to maintain that, because I've played this game long enough to understand what happens on the cricket field. 

"It's not a change in ball colour. It's still round, it still weights five-and-a-half ounces. I don't know what difference it makes suddenly." 

If India avoid defeat, they will secure a place in the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at Lord's later this year. However, a victory for England would see their Ashes rivals Australia sneak into the inaugural showpiece.

India will hope England fail another trial by spin at the Narendra Modi Stadium when Virat Kohli's side attempt to secure their place in the ICC World Test Championship final.

The tourists won the first match of the series, but back-to-back victories have ended their hopes of facing New Zealand in another final at Lord's.

In-form India only need to avoid defeat in a fourth and final match of the series, which starts in Ahmedabad on Thursday, with Australia hoping England salvage a 2-2 draw to set up a trans-Tasman showdown.

India won the third Test at the same venue by 10 wickets inside two days to take a 2-1 lead, as England were unable to contend with huge turn generated by the spinners on a much-discussed playing surface.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel wrought havoc to put the side who sit second in the rankings on the verge of the final in London.

Root not thinking of Australia

Of course, the situation in the series leaves England in the unusual position of trying to do old rivals Australia a favour.

"I wouldn’t see it as that. I would see it as us ending the series as a draw and having done something special in India," captain Joe Root told reporters.

"Ultimately it is about not having any baggage going into this game. [Winning] would be a monumental effort from this group of players."

 

Rahane: India planning to turn the screw

England have kept quiet about the standard of the pitches in the second and third Tests, concentrating on trying to learn from their struggles in such tough conditions.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane says the tourists can expect more of the same.

"The wicket will be similar to the third Test match and also the second Test in Chennai. Spinning track." the batsman said.

He added: "Talk [about the pitch] happening outside is not at all affecting Indian team. We are concentrating on what we have to do. When we tour we never complain about a pitch."

England to save their Bess for last?

The tourists went with just one frontline spinner in the third Test, with Jack Leach getting the nod ahead of Dom Bess.

Root showed he possibly ought to be more than just a part-time bowler, claiming a stunning maiden five-wicket Test haul with incredible figures of 5-8 as India collapsed to 145 in their first innings.

Bess could join Leach in the team for the last match of the series, having taken five wickets in a first Test that England won by 227 runs and impressed in Sri Lanka.

 

Key match facts

- India are yet to lose a Test at Narendra Modi Stadium versus England (W2, D1). They have only been beaten twice on the ground in the longest format, winning five and drawing six.

- England have failed to post totals of more than 178 in five of their six innings in the series. The 193 they made combined in two innings in the third Test is the fourth-fewest they have mustered in a Test match when they were bowled out in both knocks.

- Root has only been out twice when playing a conventional or reverse sweep since the start of the Sri Lanka Test tour, scoring 233 runs in the process. The other England batsmen have recorded 206 runs between them over the same period, being dismissed on 12 occasions when deploying those strokes.

- James Anderson has gone 454 deliveries without dismissing Virat Kohli in Test cricket; the India skipper has been dropped three times off his bowling in that time.

- Ashwin has dismissed Ben Stokes on 11 occasions in the longest format, almost twice the number of any other bowler The England all-rounder only averages 18 against the India spinner.

Virat Kohli saluted "modern-day legend" Ravichandran Ashwin for passing 400 career wickets in India's outlandish victory over England in the third Test.

India clinched a 10-wicket win on Thursday when they knocked off the required 49 runs with little trouble, having skittled England for the second time in the match.

The tourists made just 112 and 81 as they flopped in the pink-ball day-night match, and that meant India's own first-innings batting collapse did not prove costly.

Ashwin brought up his wickets landmark in just his 77th Test, the off-spinner finishing with match figures of 7-74, while left-armer Axar Patel took 11-70 in the rout to earn man-of-the-match honours.

"We all need to stand up and take notice of what Ashwin has contributed to Indian cricket. We should all be very proud of it," captain Kohli said.

"I told him: 'From now on, I'm going to call you Ledge.'

"Four hundred is an outstanding achievement and still so many games, so many years to go for India, and in Test match cricket he's surely a modern-day legend.

"We're lucky to have him in our team. As a captain I'm so pleased that he plays for us."

Kohli said Axar "bowled amazingly well" in what was just his second Test.

"It's impossible to sweep him and impossible to defend him all day, and if the wicket gives him anything he's just a very lethal bowler," Kohli said. "For Axar to come in and bowl like this is outstanding."

But Kohli had no such praise for India as a batting side, or England for that matter.

"The result went our way, but I don't think the quality of batting was at all up to standard from both teams to be very honest," Kohli said. "I know they got bundled out early but even with our innings we were 100-3 hoping to make many more than we ended up with."

India slumped to 145 all out, yet England's second-innings effort meant the hosts were not punished.

Kohli spoke in the post-match presentation of a "lack of application on both sides" and said there was nothing amiss with the pitch early on.

"It was bizarre that out of the 30 wickets, 21 were from straight balls, and I feel that's just a lapse of concentration or indecision, or too many things going on in your head as a batter where you're playing for the turn but getting beaten on the inside," the India captain added.

"I honestly feel batsmen need to trust their defence more than they are presenting at the moment. Test cricket is all about that.

"You're not going to get a result in two days all the time, and this was a classic example of batsmen not applying themselves enough and that's why it was such a quick game.

"A lot of guys didn't get into the game and it's just a bizarre game.

"I don't think I've ever been part of such a Test match where things have happened so quickly. I've never experienced this."

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel once again bamboozled England as India secured a 10-wicket victory in the third Test inside two days.

Thursday's action in the day-night contest was eventful to say the least, 17 wickets falling before Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill saw the hosts to their target of 49 runs in the final session under the floodlights. 

India had also started proceedings at the crease, losing their final seven wickets for 41 as they slipped from 99-3 to 145 all out, Joe Root's maiden five-wicket haul seemingly putting the game back in the balance. 

However, the metronomic Axar struck early and often as India seized control through their spinners. The left-armer dismissed both Zak Crawley and Johnny Bairstow for ducks in his first over of the innings as he picked up 5-32, giving him stunning match figures of 11-70.  

Not to be outdone, Ashwin worked his magic once more to end with 4-48. In the process he surpassed 400 Test wickets, a feat only achieved by three other bowlers for India. 

The efforts of the duo – fellow spinner Washington Sundar also claimed the final wicket of the innings – saw England skittled for 81 in 30.4 overs, their lowest total against India in the format. 

Root – who had done so much to give his team hope in the opening session with 5-8 – battled hard to make 19 and, briefly, his partnership with Ben Stokes (25) suggested India may have more work to do in the final innings on a difficult surface. 

Yet Ashwin crucially ended Stokes' counter-attacking knock and, having also bowled Ollie Pope (12), he reached his personal landmark when Jofra Archer was out lbw for a two-ball duck. In truth, England's tail had little hope of increasing their lead to give their own spinners any hope.

Rohit and Gill rushed the home team over the finishing line, the openers ending unbeaten on 25 and 15 respectively as India moved 2-1 ahead in the series with one Test to play.


Ashwin latest to join 400 club 

Ashwin is just the 16th bowler to claim 400 Test wickets, doing so in his 77th appearance. His compatriots Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble – who sits in top spot on India's all-time list on 619 – and Harbhajan Singh have previously made it to the milestone.

Only Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan made to that number in fewer games than Ashwin, who now has 24 wickets in the series at an average of 15.70.

Tourists left in a spin

Thanks to a double century from skipper Root, England scored 578 in their first innings in the series. It was a mammoth total that set them up to secure an impressive victory in Chennai. 

Since then, though, the visitors have amassed 669 runs in five innings combined, their best score in that period being 164. Facing a trial by spin, they have been condemned to a pair of heavy defeats that ends their hope of competing in the World Test Championship final on home soil.

Jeetan Patel says England must learn from how Ravichandran Ashwin and Virat Kohli mastered such tough conditions as the tourists prepare to "shake a stick" at pulling off an unlikely win in Chennai.

India are well on course to levelling the four-match series at 1-1 after dominating the third day at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Monday.

Ashwin was the star of the show on his home ground, making a brilliant 106 after taking 5-43 on day two, and captain Kohli struck 62 as India recovered from 106-6 to post 286 all out in their second innings.

England were in deep trouble on 53-3 at stumps, needing a mammoth 429 more runs to go 2-0 up, with Kohli's side looking destined to seal a crushing victory.

Axar Patel dismissed Dom Sibley and nightwatchman Jack Leach either side of the magnificent Ashwin getting rid of Rory Burns as India tightened their grip on a pitch that has turned sharply from day one.

Dan Lawrence and Joe Root made it through to stumps and England spin bowling consultant Patel expects the tourists to show fight when they resume on day four.

The former New Zealand spinner said: "I think Ashwin and Kohli were fantastic.

"Kohli, right from the first innings where maybe his footwork was I suppose a touch lazy compared to the second innings – where he was fantastic with the way he got down to the ball and across his stumps.

"The way he forced us to bowl in areas he wanted to, we need to take heed from that. Especially with the way Ashwin came out and swept early, got the field he wanted and then could manipulate the lengths from there.

"They are in a really strong position, there is no doubt about that, but we are going to have work really hard to grab some of that back."

He added: "There's still lots to do, but there's match-winners in this group, we've seen that before.

"I'm not about to say that we are 100 per cent going to win this game, but what I am going to say is we will shake a stick at it."

Patel says it is vital England take a positive approach as they try to dig themselves out of a huge hole.

"I think it's just to keep staying positive, we've got stroke-makers in the group and we want them to keep expressing themselves," he said. 

"The thing that has been the strengths so far in the three matches we have played in the subcontinent is to still try to score. 

"If we sit there and try to defend for two days, we're going to have much success and we're not going to go anywhere in the game. We can certainly look to learn a lot about ourselves while looking to score.

"I think Dan Lawrence was fantastic, the way he played this evening was exactly how he wants to play cricket and how he can contribute to this team."

Ravichandran Ashwin scored a magnifcent century on his home ground as India made England toil on day three of the second Test in Chennai.

India need seven wickets to level the four-match series after all-rounder Ashwin made a sublime 106 on a sharply turning pitch at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Monday.

Ashwin played with great application and skill to craft a fifth hundred in the longest format, having also taken 5-43 as England were bowled out for only 134 on the second day.

Captain Virat Kohli made 62 but it was all about Ashwin, roared on by a vociferous crowd, once again as India were bowled out for 286 – setting the tourists a mammoth 482 to win.

The excellent Axar Patel dismissed Dom Sibley and nightwatchman Jack Leach, while Ashwin got rid of Rory Burns to leave England 53-3 at stumps and facing a huge defeat.

Moeen Ali (4-98) and Jack Leach (4-100) thrived on a track that has offered significant turn from day one as India lost five wickets in the morning session.

Ashwin and Kohli mastered the conditions impressively to strengthen India's grip on the match, though, putting on 96 for the seventh wicket.

Moeen saw the back of Kohli, who spent five hours at the crease and struck seven boundaries, but went from strength to strength in an imperious knock, hitting a six and 14 fours.

England were finally put out of their misery when Olly Stone cleaned up Ashwin after Mohammed Siraj added insult to injury with a couple of lusty blows over the rope.

Axar (2-15) then got Sibley lbw for only three and Ashwin had Burns (25) caught by Kohli, before Leach fended the first ball he faced from his fellow left-armer to Rohit Sharma at leg slip.

India were convinced Joe Root should have been adjudged lbw when he was struck in front by Axar, but the third umpire ruled he was hit outside the line of off stump in the final over of a great day for India.

 

False dawn for England

The tourists started the third day on the ropes, with India leading by 249 runs on 54-1 after 15 wickets tumbled on a dramatic day two.

Cheteshwar Pujara fell in the first over, comically run out when he lost his grip on his bat after jamming it in the pitch and was out of his ground following fine work from Ollie Pope at short leg.

India were 106-6 with Rohit, Rishabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane and Axar back in the pavilion, as Ben Foakes produced two excellent stumpings for Leach and Moeen.

Ashwin and Kohli rub England's noses in it

The magnificent Ashwin put England in a spin on Sunday and showed his class with the bat in front of his adoring crowd in what is turning out to be a dream Test for the all-rounder.

Ashwin and the classy Kohli made England suffer on a hot day, with Root's tiring side becoming increasingly sloppy in the field with a combination of dropped catches and a missed stumping.

Kohli looked untroubled until he was pinned in front by Moeen, but Ashwin continued to take a positive approach after bringing up a 64-ball half-century.

He smashed Moeen for a huge six to move three shy of three figures and there was a huge roar when he struck a streaky boundary to complete a brilliant hundred. Only Ian Botham (five) has scored a century and taken a five-wicket haul in the same Test more times than Ashwin's three.

England will have a new-look bowling attack on duty for the second Test as they go up against an India side determined to bounce back in the series.

James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Dom Bess were all part of the XI that helped England become the first visiting nation to win a Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai since Pakistan in 1999, ending an eight-game unbeaten streak for the hosts.

However, none of the trio will be involved when the two teams face each other again at the same venue.

While Archer is ruled out with an elbow injury, Anderson has been rested and Bess left out of a 12-man squad. Stuart Broad seems certain to play, with the other seam-bowling spot between Chris Woakes and Olly Stone. Moeen Ali will be the second spinner; the all-rounder has not featured in Test cricket since August 2019.

Captain Joe Root admitted it was not an easy decision to give Anderson a break considering how well he performed in the opener, but England had to look at the bigger picture during such a busy year.

"Everyone's heart was in favour of him being available for this game but also you have to look at the bigger picture and ideally if he is available for two of the last three, that is a huge asset for us with the way he is bowling and his reputation, as well as his numbers and the way he has performed in recent games," Root told the media.

India, meanwhile, head into this match under pressure; they have only ever lost the first two games of a home Test series against England once previously, when they went on to suffer a 3-1 defeat in 1976-77.

Virat Kohli pointed to a failure by the bowling unit to keep England's scoring rate in check in the aftermath of the opening defeat, with slow-bowling duo Washington Sundar and Shahbaz Nadeem struggling to provide support for pacemen Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma, as well as frontline spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

Axar Patel missed that match due to a knee injury but came through a fitness test on Thursday. Kuldeep Yadav could also get an opportunity on a pitch that, according to Ajinkya Rahane, will spin from the outset.

"I am sure it will turn from day one," Rahane said on the eve of the game. "We will have to wait and see how it behaves in the first session and take it from there."

In a boost for India, there will be fans present for the second of four matches in the series. The ground is allowed to be 50 per cent full, though there will be social distancing measures in place amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


Captain Kohli in the spotlight

India have now lost four Tests in a row under Kohli, who departed the tour of Australia after his side had been shot out for 36 to lose the series opener in Adelaide. He returned home for the birth of his first child, with stand-in Rahane then leading the side to a 2-1 triumph.

Kohli made scores of 11 and 72 upon his return to the XI, but those numbers were not enough to stop him slipping to fifth in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings for batsmen.

Root keeps on digging in

Root underpinned England's triumph last time out with a double hundred in a mammoth first innings of 578, in the process continuing his stunning run of form following on from a hugely successful tour to Sri Lanka.

The right-handed batsman has managed 684 runs in his previous three matches, which equates to 39 per cent of his side's total runs in Test cricket in 2021. There have been useful contributions from his top-order colleagues so far overseas, but no other batsman has reached three figures in an innings during the calendar year.

Key match facts

- England have only managed to register one Test series win in India since their 2-1 tour win in 1984-85 - their successful tour in 2012 being the solitary triumph during that period (D1 L4).
- India still lead the head-to-head record with England in Tests played at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, winning five compared to the visitors' tally of four after the series opener (D1).
- England have managed to record six overseas Test wins in succession ahead of this match – victory in this game will equal their longest ever run in the format (seven in a row between 1911 and 1914).
- Rishabh Pant has a batting strike rate of 70.6 in Test cricket, only two men (with a minimum of 600 runs scored) have higher rates for India (Virender Sehwag at 82, plus Kapil Dev at 81)
- Broad (517) is three scalps away from going into sixth place on the all-time leading Test wicket-takers list, jumping above Courtney Walsh (519); the Englishman has picked up 41 wickets at an average of 14.5 since the start of 2020.

2011 World Champion Yohan Blake has expressed admiration for the leader of India captain Virat Kohli, despite a massive loss to England in the first Test.

On the back of a majestic double century from England captain Joe Root and four-wicket hauls by Dom Best and Jack Leach, England romped to a 227-run victory over India in Chennai.

For his part, Kohli failed to get going in the first innings but top-scored for the team in the second innings with 72 as was dismissed of 192, in pursuit of a world record target of 420.

 In his analysis of the match, however, Blake gave credit to Kohli for shouldering the blame.  The result was quite a letdown from the team’s exhilarating win over Australia at the famous Brisbane cricket ground, Blake, however, backed the team India to bounce back.

 "What I really love about Team India is that Virat Kohli doesn't find any excuses. That's what I really love about his captaincy, he took the blame for everything," Blake said in a video uploaded on his social media handles.

"He said the bowlers didn't find the right areas and that the batsmen were not as consistent. He said, 'we got to go back to the drawing board and come back'. And that's what I love about Virat Kohli and his captaincy," he added.

"Test cricket is absolutely the best. The second Test should be interesting, India was 1-0 down in Australia, they are 1-0 down at their home ground now. The second Test, I'm looking forward to it."

 

Virat Kohli bristled at the suggestion that Ajinkya Rahane's place in the India batting line-up could be in jeopardy following a heavy first Test defeat to England in Chennai.

Needing an improbable 420 to win, India resumed the final day on 39-1 but Jack Leach (4-76) continued his impressive record in fourth innings and James Anderson (3-17) produced a masterful display of reverse swing to dismiss the hosts for 192.

From the moment visiting skipper Joe Root embarked upon his mammoth first-innings 218, India found themselves in the unusual position of being comprehensively outplayed on home soil.

It left Root's opposite number, Kohli, to field some awkward questions - not least on Rahane, who managed a solitary run in the match and has a highest score of 37 in the seven knocks following his superb century at Melbourne in the Boxing Day Test.

That effort saw vice-captain Rahane leading a stunning comeback series win from the front in Australia. India triumphed 2-1 in a four-match rubber following a thrashing in the first Test, after which Kohli went home for the birth of his first child.

"Look, if you're trying to dig something out, you're not going to get anything because there's nothing," Kohli told reporters, seemingly aware how him agreeing to Rahane being under pressure might look in the context of his heroics versus Australia.

"I've said this many times in the past as well - along with Cheteshwar Pujara, he is our most important Test batsman and he is going to continue to be.

"We believe in his abilities, we have believed in his abilities for a long time now and he's an impact player.

"If you're talking about the MCG Test, he stood up and scored a hundred when the team wanted it the most. So, you can look at a number of innings and what happens from thereon, but the reality of the situation is they've won the series in Australia."

As such, Kohli is satisfied his players remain in good form overall and appears unlikely to make wholesale changes for the second Test, which starts back at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.

"There's absolutely no issues, everyone's playing really well and we just need to be focused a lot more, understand that Test victories are earned in any conditions - whether they're your own or you're playing away," Kohli added.

"Nothing is a given in Test cricket and we need to be aware of that reality and work together as a team to keep putting a lot of pressure on the opposition. That's our focus." 

The magnificent James Anderson and Jack Leach starred as England took a 1-0 Test series lead over India with an emphatic 227-run victory on the final day in Chennai.

England started day five needing another nine wickets to win a match they dominated throughout and Joe Root's side got the job done in the afternoon session at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium.

Anderson produced a sublime spell before lunch, taking two wickets in one brilliant over, and finished with figures of 3-17, while the impressive Leach took 4-76 as India were dismissed for 192.

Half-centuries from Virat Kohli (72) and Shubman Gill (50) were in vain as India never looked like getting close to reaching their unlikely target of 420 to win or being capable of batting out for a draw.

Victory for the tourists ensured Root matched Michael Vaughan’s record tally of 26 Test wins as captain, capping a dream 100th match in the longest format for the in-form batsman, whose classy double century set up a perfect start to the four-match series.

India resumed on 39-1, needing an unlikely 401 more runs for victory, and they were two down when Leach drew an edge from Cheteshwar Pujara with a delivery that turned sharply, Ben Stokes taking a sharp catch at first slip.

Anderson then came to the fore with a magnificent over, removing Gill's off stump and repeating the trick to clean up Ajinkya Rahane for a duck three balls later.

India were in deep trouble on 110-5 when Rishabh Pant fell into the trap, taken by Root at short cover as another clever piece of bowling from the wily Anderson was rewarded again.

Leach snared Washington Sundar, superbly caught behind by Jos Buttler, to leave India staring down the barrel of defeat at 144-6 at lunch, with the classy Kohli running out of partners.

Ravichandran Ashwin was peppered by short stuff from Jofra Archer, taking a blow on the helmet and glove, as he hung around defiantly before another excellent take from Buttler gave Leach a third wicket.

Kohli look untroubled as he knuckled down, rotating the strike and putting away any loose deliveries, but Stokes came into the attack to bowl the skipper.

Shahbaz Nadeem became Leach's fourth victim and Archer had Jasprit Bumrah caught behind to seal a famous sixth consecutive away win for Root's men.

Dom Bess revelled in dismissing the "phenomenal" Virat Kohli as part of a four-wicket haul as England retained control of their first Test with India.

Yorkshire spinner Bess claimed 4-55 from 23 overs on the third day of the entertaining test at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

The 23-year-old snared home skipper Kohli for 11 and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane for one, before putting an end to Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara's stand.

It was the wicket of Kohli, who flicked a bat-pad catch to Ollie Pope, that gave Bess the most satisfaction in his finest outing for England in a career spanning 13 Tests.

"It is certainly up there," he said. "The calibre of the player, who he is, is phenomenal. He is a world-class player so it was special, but more for what my process was. 

"What I'm learning, what I'm doing that is getting me to that. You are always looking to get batsmen out but it's not about bowling that magic ball. 

"It's about smashing in 10, 15 balls in a good area and then something will happen. That's what I was really pleased about. I thought I held my line and length really well.

"It's not about who you are getting out, it's the consistency of balls. I thought I bowled pretty well and I think I am bowling really well at the moment. 

"It was important to make sure I had real confidence in my mentality and process. I'm 23, I'm only going to keep growing. My journey is going to be up and down."

Responding to England's 578 all out, India initially toiled before a sparkling knock from Pant – ending with 91 run from 88 balls – helped them to 257-6.

Pant stepped in with India 73-4 but, targeting the spin of Jack Leach, he hit nine fours and five sixes before Bess took over and dismissed both Pant and Pujara.

However, Bess believes Pant's high scoring was more down to the his attacking batting display, rather than Leach's bowling, as he backed the left-armer to quickly respond.

"I thought he bowled really well and that's not just me saying that. If you look at the way he bowled to Pant and [Washington] Sundar I reckon there are balls hitting the exact same box," he said.

"Pant is just a completely different player who played a phenomenal innings. Really courageous, really bold. How Leachy came back and kept smashing out a length shows the qualities he has.

"People will look at the fact he was going for 10 runs an over at one point but it doesn't matter. It's going to bring you massive opportunities if [Pant] gets it wrong.

"Leachy is so strong mentally. He has been through a hell of a lot, and that isn't going to faze him at all."

India are favourites to carry on where they left off in Australia and spoil England captain Joe Root's 100th Test in Chennai.

Depleted India defied the odds to come from behind and secure a 2-1 series win in Australia despite being without a host of key players, including captain Virat Kohli.

Kohli returns from paternity leave to lead the side after Ajinkya Rahane filled in superbly in his absence, while Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin have recovered from injuries but Ravindra Jadeja (broken thumb) misses out.

India are in pole position to seal their place in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand, but England and Australia can also qualify.

In-form skipper Root will become the 15th England player to win a century of Test caps when the four-match series starts at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.

Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Rory Burns return, while Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran have been given a rest following the recent 2-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka.

The tourists could be without Zak Crawley after the batsman injured his right wrist when slipping outside the changing room, but Ollie Pope is poised to make his comeback from a shoulder injury.

England have won just one Test series in India since 1984-85, losing four and drawing one since then other than a triumph in 2012.

 

What are the Test Championship permutations?

The postponement of the series between South Africa and Australia ensured the Black Caps will play in the first Test Championship final.

Kane Williamson's side will face India at Lord's if they beat England 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1 or 4-0.

England must win at least three matches in India to set up another final against New Zealand, so Root's men are very much outsiders. 

Australia will qualify if England win the series without winning three matches, while they will also take on their trans-Tasman rivals if the series is drawn or India come out on top 1-0.

 

Centurion Root leading by example 

Root failed to make a hundred for England last year, but the prolific captain showed class is permanent in Sri Lanka.

The 30-year-old made a magnificent 228 in his first innings of the series and struck a brilliant 186 in the second Test, making a strong statement at the start of a hectic year for England.

Root averaged 106.50 as he delivered a masterclass of how to bat against spin and will be relishing the battle with the India attack.

He is just one win away from matching Michael Vaughan's record of 26 Test wins as England skipper and achieving that feat in the Yorkshireman's 100th match would be extra special.

 


KEY MATCH FACTS

- Four of the last five Test series between the two sides have been won by England, who eased to a 4-1 victory when they last did battle in 2018.

- India have won their last 10 multi-game bilateral Test series on home soil, that run beginning after they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of England in 2012.

- India have recorded five wins to England's three when facing off against each other at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. India have won three in a row at the Chennai venue.

- No touring side has won at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium during the 21st century (D3 L5) – Pakistan being the last team to do so in the format (1999).

- England are on a run five away Test wins in succession – their longest such run since 1914 (seven in a row between 1911 and 1914).

In-form West Indies middle-order batsman, Jermaine Blackwood, has credited brief advice received from top-class India batsman Virat Kohli as helpful in changing his mindset towards scoring runs.

The 29-year-old scored his first century against England in 2015, a plucky 112 unbeaten in a draw in Antigua.  Following that impressive achievement, however, Blackwood seemed unable to cross the double-digit threshold.  In fact, before finally breaking the streak with 104 against New Zealand, in December, Blackwood had managed to score 10 half-centuries in-between but always fell short of a triple-digit score.

Included in that number were some figures frustratingly well clear of the 50 mark, but falling just short of the 100 mark, when for all intents and purposed the batsman seemed well set to do so.  The tally includes three scores in the 90s.  He scored 92 against Sri Lanka, in Galle, in 2015; 95 against Pakistan, in Abu Dhabi, in 2016, and 95 against England, in Southampton, in July of last year.  Prior to that, Blackwood also registered 85 against England, in Bridgetown, in May 2015.  During India’s tour of the West Indies, Blackwood took the opportunity to seek the advice of run-machine Kohli when the two briefly interacted off the pitch.

“I just asked him how come all the time I score so many half-centuries and just one century, and he just replied, ‘What did you do when you scored the century? How many deliveries did you face?’ I said I faced 212, and he said that’s it, once you can bat some balls you will score runs,” Blackwood recalled.

“I took a lot from that and I’ve always told myself, after that conversation, once I can bat over 200 balls or 300, I’m going to score runs.  Once I’m there, the way I bat, I’m going to score runs regardless of who I’m playing against or where I’m playing.”

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