Rajkot Test: Ravichandran Ashwin shines with bat, but England openers two good
Openers Cook, Hameed put on 114-run stand after India all-rounder scores a fighting 70 on Day 4
Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates his 50 vs England at Rajkot on Saturday. Pic/PTI
England have dominated the opening Test against India except for one session on Day Three when Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay were batting. And any chance of a fight back by the hosts was nipped in the bud by 19-year-old opener Haseeb Hameed, who marked his arrival on the big stage with an unbeaten 62 in the second innings of his debut Test.
England skipper Alastair Cook was unbeaten with 46 as England posted 114 for no wicket in the second innings, after taking a 49-run first innings lead on Day Four of the first Test against India here on Saturday. England are now 163 runs ahead.
The wicket has deteriorated enough for the odd one to turn and jump sharply and some to keep low, almost kissing the ankle at times. There are also few patches of fresh grass, grown under the cover overnight, which has helped the fast bowlers to surprise the batsmen with pace and bounce from that spot. But all these factors worked in favour of the English bowlers whereas the Indians struggled.
Not that the Indian trio of R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra bowled badly, but when it comes to net returns, the stocks have certainly dipped for India. Had this been a boxing contest — Indian spinners against the English spinners — the first round would have been credited to the visitors.
The most heartening aspect of the English spin trio of Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari and Abdul Rashid was their discipline. Indian players are very good players of spin, but they never let the Indians dictate terms for too long despite going for the occasional boundary and six.
Rashid should consider himself lucky for getting the prize catch of Virat Kohli (hit wicket) but Ajinkya Rahane wouldn't like to see the replay of his dismissal off Ansari. Exactly, what shot Rahane was looking to play, only he can tell. Though Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha did some damage control, the tail didn't wag much once the Indian wicketkeeper departed after putting 64 runs with the off-spinner.
"That has become a habit now. Since the West Indies series, Ashwin and Saha have played some very important knocks at crucial times," said centurion Murali Vijay after the day's play. Minus the 64-run partnership between Ashwin and Saha, England would have had a much bigger lead and the team would have been in a much stronger position at stumps. "But, that's cricket," said Rashid.
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