Ishant Sharma warns England as India eye world-record chase on final day

Ishant Sharma claims he is ‘sure’ India can pull off a stunning victory over England ahead of the final day of the opening Test in Chennai.

India have been on the ropes for the majority of the series opener against England, with Joe Root’s sublime double century helping the tourists secure a first-innings lead of more than 200.

England were bowled out for 178 in their second innings, setting India a world-record 420 to win or, more realistically, needing to bat out almost four sessions to avoid going 1-0 down in the four-match series.

The hosts reached 39-1 at the close on day four and Ishant says a stunning home victory remains a possibility despite England’s dominance.

India chased 328 to beat Australia in the series decider in Brisbane last month and will need to dig deep once more to prevent England from securing a shock win.

‘It all depends on how we start tomorrow,’ Ishant said. ‘If we get a good start I am sure that we can chase this down.

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

Asked to assess the Chennai pitch, Ishant added: ‘For the first two days I thought we were playing on a road but yesterday it started to spin a bit more.

‘I think we’ve bowled really well, even on day one or two when the pitch was offering nothing.’

Ishant has taken three wickets in this match and became just the third Indian seamer to reach 300 Test wickets when he knocked over Dan Lawrence on day four.

‘It has been a rollercoaster. I’ve enjoyed it,’ the 32-year-old said.

‘I’ve had a lot of mentors in my life who have taught me how to bowl in the subcontinent and aboard what kind of lengths I need to bowl.’

Going into this series, India had won 29 and drawn five of their past 35 Tests at home, with their only loss in that period coming against Australia in 2017.

England have shown encouraging improvement under head coach Chris Silverwood, however, winning their last four Test series and most recently sealing a series sweep in Sri Lanka.

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