India vs England 1st Test, Day 4: In the time left during the penultimate hour, India scored 52 for one with Stuart Broad dismissing KL Rahul (26 off 38 balls) with a beauty. Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara were unbeaten on 12 each.
Skipper Joe Root led from the front with a superb counter-attacking hundred but Jasprit Bumrah’s five-wicket haul on the fourth day made India favourites to chase down a tricky victory target of 209 against England in the first Test.
In the time left during the penultimate hour, India scored 52 for one with Stuart Broad dismissing KL Rahul (26 off 38 balls) with a beauty. Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara were unbeaten on 12 each.
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It was Root’s 21st Test hundred — a masterful 109 off 172 balls, that saw England put up a much-improved batting show, scoring 303 in 85.5 overs and secure a lead of 208 runs.
Bumrah (5/64 in 19 overs) polished the tail in a jiffy with the second now ball en route to his sixth five-wicket haul.
However, the Indian bowlers were taken to task by the England captain, whose mode of survival for the better part of the innings was swift counter-attack that fetched him as many as 14 boundaries before Bumrah got one to rear up ensuring Rishabh Pant had the easiest of catches.
The difference between an easy target of 150 and a “neither here nor there” kind of target was primarily Root.
On the final day, if weather permits, India will need another 157 runs but in these conditions, it could prove to be more than a handful with James Anderson, Stuart
Broad and Ollie Robinson making the ball talk. Sam Curran is also expected to play a decent supporting role.
However the day belonged to Root, who once again bossed the Indian bowling having scored a half-century in the first essay.
Fully aware about the potency of the four-pronged Indian pace and seam attack, Root, who came out at 46 for 2, never for once batted for survival. He left that for
Dom Sibley (28 off 133 balls) during their 89 run stand in which he was the primary scorer.
Whether opening the bat face to use Bumrah’s pace to glide it past gully or crunching Mohammed Siraj (2/84 in 25 overs) and Mohammed Shami’s (1/72 in 15.5 overs) half-volleys through the cover, Root was a delight to watch. Shardul Thakur (2/37 in 13 overs) did trouble him a couple of times but not consistently enough.
There were a few unsuccessful appeals but Root was head and shoulders above the other English batsmen as second highest score of 30 by Jonny Bairstow would indicate.
All the Indian bowlers save the normally dependable Shami bowled wicket-taking deliveries.
The Indian bowlers were not as sharp as the first innings with too many boundaries being scored, 37 in all. Even if one considers that two to three of them were streaky but 30 plus hits to the fence in a relatively low scoring game in conducive bowling conditions may just play a larger role in the final context of the game.
As far as Bumrah is concerned, a match-haul of nine wickets will certainly make him feel much better as his decision to bowl fuller rather than hitting the hard lengths paid dividends.
His ability to make the ball rear awkwardly and straighten from length did play its part in this game and certainly augurs well for India in the coming games.
He got Zak Crawley with one that was shaping in but straightened while Sibley tried to go for a loose cover drive when the ball seamed back to take an inside edge.
While Root’s kicked up from length, Curran was the only one who got a bouncer and Stuart Broad had to counter a mean yorker, which he failed.
As far Shardul Thakur is concerned, he has justified his selection as as the fourth seamer with four wickets in two innings and getting the ball to move both ways.