India vs England: James Anderson says hosts will be nervous about tourists' chase

  • By Stephan Shemilt
  • Chief cricket writer in Visakhapatnam

image source, Getty Images

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James Anderson moved to 695 Test wickets in Visakhapatnam

James Anderson says India is nervous about England making another comeback in the second Test in Visakhapatnam.

England finished the third day at 67-1 and reached 399, which would be a record for England against India and any team in this country.

England passed 378 against India in 2022, one of five successful comebacks over 250 in the last two years.

“The nerves were there,” Anderson said. “They didn’t know how many were enough.”

England were excellent with the ball and in the field on Sunday, taking India's last six wickets for 44 runs to bowl out the hosts for 255 in their second innings.

India sputtered on both sides after Shubman Gill was dismissed for 104.

“They were pretty cautious even when they had a big lead,” added pace bowler Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker.

“The coach said last night that if they got to 600 we would try. This makes it clear to everyone that we will try tomorrow.”

Since captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took charge, England have made a habit of scoring quickly and setting off daring chases.

And Anderson believes England's style influences the way teams play against them.

“There were moments where we could think we were doing something well because of the way the teams responded,” Anderson said. “Last summer Australia had a point fielder on the boundary for the first ball of the Ashes.

“I don’t know if intimidating is the right word, but it makes the opposition think differently. It definitely felt that way today.”

England have only scored more than 100 in the fourth innings twice to win a Test in India. No visiting team in this country has reached 300 in the fourth innings, regardless of the score.

Although history is on India's side, Gill said it was only “70-30” that his team could level the series at 1-1.

“We were in a good position and could have scored a few more runs, but overall it was a good performance,” Gill told TNT Sports.

England are awaiting the fitness of Joe Root, who was hit on the finger during Sunday morning's warm-up and again while fielding in the first hour. Root left the action over a drink in the first session and did not return for the rest of the day.

“His finger isn’t great,” Anderson told BBC Sport. “It’s just about making sure that when he bats, it’s as good as it can be. Hopefully he comes tomorrow and can hold a bat.”

England will continue on Monday needing another 332 runs, with Zak Crawley unbeaten on 29 and Rehan Ahmed on nine.

Ahmed, who scored 3-88 with his leg-spin on Sunday, was promoted from number eight to number three to take up the 'Nighthawk' role previously held by the retired Stuart Broad. Ahmed, 19, hit two boundaries in the last over of the day.

“I think he would have been told to do that by the captain and the coach if he hadn't basically told the captain as soon as he left the field that he wanted to put his pads on and hit three,” he told Anderson.

“He was advertised as the night watchman over the Tannoy, but he certainly wasn't. We saw that in the last over when he went for boundaries.”

Anderson, 41, is playing in his first Test since a disappointing Ashes series when he managed just five wickets in four Tests.

He bowled brilliantly on his return, taking three wickets in the first innings and two in the second. The Lancashire man is the oldest pace bowler to play a Test in India since 1923 and the oldest to take five wickets in a Test.

And he credits his improvement to the fitness work he has done during his absence from the game. Anderson even got involved in the public athletics track near Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.

“I felt so strong out there, in a really good place,” Anderson said. “When your body is in good shape, you can fully concentrate on what you want the ball to do.

“I may have let it slide a bit over the summer and wasn't as good as I could have been from a fitness perspective, but now I'm feeling absolutely great and I hope I can keep it up.”