India vs England Mumbai Test: Opening blues for Indians
Hosts' best first-wicket partnership in the series is still the 68-run stand in the first Test at Rajkot
England’s Moeen Ali (right) celebrates with teammates after dismissing India opener Lokesh Rahul (left) on the second day of the fourth Test at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai yesterday. India did not lose another wicket during the day. Pic/AFP
Though India are playing with specialist openers —Murali Vijay and KL Rahul — against England in the ongoing fourth Test at the Wankhede, they once again failed to enjoy a good opening stand. Vijay (70 not out) and Rahul started the proceeding showing good technique and confidence against a comparatively weak English attack yesterday. However, just when it felt that the pair would frustrate the English bowlers, Rahul failed to read the line from off-spinner Moeen Ali, who found the necessary gap between bat and pad to rattle Rahul’s furniture. Rahul made his way to the pavilion with 24 to his name .
Rahul’s injury concerns
Rahul has been in and out of the squad through injury. He played the second Test in Vizag, scoring 0 and 10 after missing the second and third Test against New Zealand in October we well as the opening Test against England at Rajkot due to a forearm injury.
Though India beat England by eight wickets at Mohali Test, the opening stand in the first innings between Vijay and Parthiv Patel was worth only 39. In the second innings, the first wicket went down with just seven runs on the board. At Vizag, where the Virat Kohli-led Indian side beat England by 246 runs, the opening partnerships between Vijay and Rahul were six and 16 respectively.
The only 50-plus opening stand for India in this series was witnessed in Rajkot where Vijay and Gautam Gambhir put on 68 runs for the first wicket in the first innings. However Gambhir departed for a duck in the second innings. The English openers have fared better. Alastair Cook and debutant Keaton Jennings put on 99 runs in the first innings here.
Grey area for hosts
At Rajkot, Cook and Haseeb Hameed put on 180 in the second innings. The same pair put on 75 in the second innings of the Vizag Test. While the Indian bowling (spin and pace) as well as the middle-order looks settled, India’s opening pair still remains a concern.
The national selection panel has chosen R Ashwin as India’s new deputy, according to sources. It is learnt that the five selectors picked the in-form off-spinner in case Virat Kohli is not on the field. Their choice was conveyed to the BCCI on Thursday. Earlier, the selectors named Ajinkya Rahane as Kohli’s deputy, but Rahane, suffered a finger injury on the eve of the Mumbai Test.
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