Sunday, 18 April 2021

Mohali Test: Jadeja pushes India closer to victory

MOHALI: India closed in on a comprehensive victory in Mohali as England lurched to lunch on 156 for 7, a lead of just 22. Ravindra Jadeja’s outstanding match continued as he claimed two of the wickets, including Joe Root for a defiant 78, and India will have thoughts of completing the formalities sometime during the afternoon session. Haseeb Hameed came in at No. 8, below Jos Buttler, nursing the finger injury which meant he did not field throughout India’s innings. He appeared in little discomfort which prompted questions as to why he had not been able to take his normal position opening the batting. By lunch he had reached 13 off 88 balls and a partnership of 45 had finally erased the deficit before Ajinkya Rahane’s reflex catch at slip removed Root. It did not take long for India to make their first breakthrough when nightwatchman Gareth Batty propped forward at Jadeja’s second ball of the day and was given lbw. Root and Buttler responded with intent: Buttler came down the pitch to loft Jadeja over long-off and Root scampered hard between the wickets. For a short period it was reminiscent of a one-day partnership and Virat Kohli relaxed his attacking fields a little.

However, when a batsman such as Buttler is keen to dominate – which was not without merit – the scouts in the deep become wicket-taking catchers and so it proved when Buttler miscued Jayant Yadav to deep midwicket. Hameed was never going to opt for the Buttler route and it took him 19 balls to get off the mark. He was given a life on 6 when a Parthiv Patel could not gather a thick edge off R Ashwin. Mohammed Shami went short at him for a brief period, to try and target the injured hand, but the pitch – as it has throughout the match – did not offer much response. Instead the pacemen’s main threat continued to be reverse swing with both Shami and Umesh Yadav finding prodigious movement on occasions. Root’s half-century was brought up with his third boundary and he then became engaged in a tussle with Ashwin. A cover drive and strong sweep when Root’s way, but attempting another sweep he was fortunate to escape as it looped over the wicketkeeper. It was another bowling change which ended his resistance – another call that worked for Kohli in this match – when Root drove at a delivery from Jadeja which gripped enough to take the edge. Catching has been fallible from both sides in this match, but Rahane’s snaffle to his left was superb.

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