India strike two late blows to gain edge over England (Roundup)
Visakhapatnam, Nov 20 (IANS) Chasing 405 runs for victory, England were reduced to 87/2 in their second innings as India struck late during the fourth day’s play in the second cricket Test match here on Sunday.
Openers Haseeb Hameed (25) and skipper Alastair Cook (54) were the batsman to be dismissed close to the end of play. Cook’s dismissal ended the day’s action. Joe Root was unbeaten on 5 at stumps at the ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium.
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin claimed Hameed’s wicket (1/28) while Ravindra Jadeja (1/25) accounted for Cook.
England now need 318 runs to win the match to take the lead in the five-match Test series while India need eight wickets to clinch the encounter.
The loss of Cook, in the day’s final over after scoring a dogged 54, was a huge blow for England.
Faced with the task of a record-setting run chase for a touring team in India, England began well as the openers shared a 75-run stand in 50 overs, proving their determination and resilience.
But once Hameed was out, adjudged leg before wicket (LBW) to Ashwin, England stumbled.
It became worse for the tourists when Cook was given leg before to Jadeja with four balls of the day remaining to be played.
The England openers earlier efforts were undone by the two late blows, that hit their bid to save the Test significantly.
A win for England appeared very unlikely, particularly after the late strikes, and they can now only aim to play for a draw on the final day.
England could have gone into the pavilion feeling confident if they hadn’t lost Hameed and Cook.
England started well after dismissing India in their second innings for 204. They were 40 for no loss at tea, with Cook (28 not out) and Hameed (12 not out), with each of them having played 84 deliveries.
All the Indian bowlers had to toil hard. Cook and Hameed stood strong and showed their hunger to grind it out.
England earlier bowled India out for 204 in the hosts’ second innings, claiming the last seven wickets for 87 runs — yet they were set a stiff target of 405 runs for victory.
Resuming the day at 98/3, India’s Ajinkya Rahane (26) and skipper Virat Kohli (81) started the proceedings on a good note.
They forged a crucial 77-run partnership for the fourth wicket before Rahane was sent back to the pavilion by pacer Stuart Broad in the 39th over.
India suffered a collapse after Rahane’s departure, going from 117/4 to 162/9.
Ashwin (7), wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (2), Kohli and Jadeja (2) got out in quick succession.
England’s inspired second innings bowling gave them a sniffing chance of getting back into the match.
But Jayant Yadav (27 not out) and Mohammad Shami (19) added 42 vital runs for the 10th wicket to stretch India’s overall lead.
India’s batting collapse had increased England’s hopes of making a match out of the contest but the Jadav-Shami partnership dampened their ambitions.
England’s hopes took a further beating at the fag end of the day’s action when they lost the two wickets, staring at the prospect of going 0-1 down in the five-match series.
They need to bat out of their skins to avoid defeat, and their hopes would be pinned on Root — their in-form batsman who scored a fine half century in the first innings.
The focus will be on how the fifth day pitch behaves. The wicket has so far behaved decently. But signs of wear and tear on it affecting the bounce of deliveries became apparent when Hameed was pinned on the backfoot to be dismissed. Cook also went on the backfoot and was similarly dismissed.