Joe Root led England to an emphatic 227-run win over India in the opening Test on Tuesday, taking the upper hand in their bid for a rare series victory against the hosts on their patch.
Spinner Jack Leach claimed four wickets and paceman James Anderson took three — two of them in a majestic over — as India were dismissed for 192 on the final day while chasing a record 420 to win in Chennai.
“It is a very good victory but in the scheme of the series, it is just the start,” said Root.
The England captain predicted that India would “hit back hard” after defeat.
But in the opener, he outfoxed India, who were on a high after their sensational series triumph in Australia last month, with his bat and his tactics.
Root became the first batsman to score a double century in his 100th Test as his 218 guided England to 578 in the first innings. He was also the top scorer with 40 in the second innings of 178.
Root acknowledged that it had been a “crucial toss” to win and then go in to make the big first innings.
“But from that point we had to follow through and make the most of a very good wicket. We did that very well and posted a good score,” he said.
“To take 20 wickets in very alien conditions, to our bowlers is huge credit.”
India were hanging on to the chase after Leach struck early with the wicket of overnight batsman Cheteshwar Pujara for 15, and Anderson using his reverse swing on the wearing pitch.
– Anderson masterclass –
Shubman Gill completed his third Test fifty in just his fourth game before Anderson took away his off-stump. Three balls later he cleaned up Ajinkya Rahane for nought.
Anderson got India’s first innings hero Pant for 11 and spinner Dom Bess chipped in with the wicket of Washington Sundar for nought as India slipped to 117-6.
Root hailed the bowler, who has now taken 611 test wickets, for the way “he goes about things, challenging himself constantly and getting better all the time even at 38.
“He’s a great role model to the rest of the group.”
India captain Virat Kohli fought a lone battle, reaching his 24th Test fifty before being bowled by Ben Stokes on a delivery that stayed low.
Leach and fast bowler Jofra Archer combined to run through the tail.
“England played far more professionally,” said Kohli, whose side were all out for 337 in the first innings.
“England were ready for the grind and were far more equipped than we were.
“With the bat as well as the ball, we left a lot of things to be desired.”
With three more matches to go, both captains predicted a hard-fought series ahead.
“They will be hurting right now,” said Root.
England have recorded five series wins in India since 1933. They last won under Alastair Cook in 2012-13 in a series when Root made his Test debut.
They lost the last series in 2016.
Root came into this series on the back of match-winning scores of 228 and 186 against Sri Lanka last month.
The second Test begins Saturday with spectators allowed into Chennai’s M.A. Chidambaram Stadium — a first for Indian cricket since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.