Mohali Test: India's top order can't rely on just Pujara and Kohli
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja could take India to safety in Mohali today, but the hosts were not well served by an iffy performance from the top order against England
India's Pujara dives to make his crease during the second day of the third Test vs England in Mohali yesterday. Pic/PTI
In the Test series against England, India have relied heavily on skipper Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara to get the bulk of the runs. But it is unfair to expect them to repeat it match after match. With an unsettled opening partnership and a hopelessly out-of-form Ajinkya Rahane, if either fails to get a big one, India are bound to struggle.
This is what happened at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Sunday. Kohli and Pujara failed to convert their half-centuries into big hundreds and that put India in a spot of bother before Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja revived the innings with an unbeaten partnership which could prove crucial in the context of the end result.
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At 271-6, India will on the third day look to take a substantial lead, especially as they have to bat last on a pitch that is bound to get difficult. They have the well-set Ashwin and Jadeja to continue the battle against the new ball today, and with handy tail-enders to follow, India could breathe a bit easier by the close of the second day.
India seemed to have lost their grip on the match in the post-tea session, when they lost four wickets at the time when they looked set to dominate the England bowling. They lost Pujara (51), Rahane and debutant Karun Nair in a matter of 18 balls. Nair was the most unlucky, run out in a mix-up with his skipper. What a disastrous debut it is for him.
As wickets tumble around him, Kohli was expected to hold the fort for the remainder of the play with a defiant but limping Ashwin. But he nicked an outgoing delivery from Ben Stokes much to the disappointment of a small Sunday crowd.
Kohli had been batting with his usual fluency and was just a run away from the 400-mark in the series and his departure seemed to have given England the edge. They were looking forward to gaining a useful lead till they ran into Ashwin and Jadeja, who played some aggressive strokes to bring India within eight runs of taking the lead.
Ashwin was limping while batting and this could prove a hindrance for the home team as he still has a lot to do in this Test match. Hopefully, overnight rest will set him right to play crucial role over the next three days and help India consolidate their lead in the series.
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