Fifth Test: India’s top order fail yet again as they stutter at 174/6 on day 2
London: India’s batting woes continued as they were left reeling at 174/6 in reply to England’s 332 in the first innings, at stumps on Day 2 of the fifth and final test match here on Saturday.
India still trail England by 158 runs with four wickets in hand and three days of play remaining.
At close, debutant Hanuma Vihari (25 batting) and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (batting 8) were at the crease.
James Anderson (2/20) and Ben Stokes (2/44) were the pick of the bowlers for the hosts who have already won the series 3-1. Indian skipper Virat Kohli was the top-scorer for the tourists with a defiant 49 before Stokes got his back.
Resuming on overnight score of 198/7, birthday boy Jos Buttler (89) and his 98-run ninth-wicket partnership with Stuart Broad (38) helped England post 332 despite a middle-order collapse on Day 1.
In reply, India’s top order showed no signs of improvement against quality swing bowling with opener Shikhar Dhawan (3) falling early.
K.L. Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara made identical 37 to join hands for a 64-run second wicket stand before Sam Curran (1/46) bowled a beauty to dismiss Rahul.
Rahul looked good throughout his stay but Curran made light of his defense with an unplayable delivery that swung back in the air after pitching on middle and off stump.
India then lost three wickets for 33 runs as Anderson wreaked havoc with the moving ball, removing both Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane (0) in quick succession.
Kohli (49) looked in great touch like he has been throughout the series. He hit six boundaries during his 70-ball knock before edging a Stokes delivery to his counterpart Joe Root at the slip cordon.
Vihari had two LBW shouts against Broad — the first of which looked out on replays but England didn’t opt for DRS.
Wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant (5) again failed to cash in on the opportunity edging a Stokes delivery to Alastair Cook on the slip cordon.
In the second session, after wrapping up the hosts, the visitors were off to a shaky start as Dhawan fell cheaply, becoming a victim of Broad, who picked him up in front of the wicket with just six runs on India’s scorecard.
However, the Rahul and Pujara then played sensibly, putting on 47 runs and taking India past the 50-run mark.
Rahul and Pujara were unbeaten at 35 and 15 runs respectively at the time of the tea break.
In the morning session, Buttler notched up his 10th half-century to rescue England to 304 for eight as Indian bowlers struggled to wrap up the home team’s tail.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja was the pick of the bowlers, claiming four English wickets for 79 runs.
Apart from Jadeja, pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma shared three wickets each conceding 83 and 62 runs respectively.
Resuming the post-lunch session from 304/8, the hosts could only manage to add another 28 runs as Jadeja struck twice to wrap up England.
Two overs after the play resumed in the afternoon session, Jadeja came with a much needed breakthrough for India, breaking the crucial 98-run partnership between Stuart Broad (38) and Buttler. Broad while trying to drive a length ball by Jadeja over mid-on, handed a sensational catch to Lokesh Rahul with the hosts scorecard reading 312/9.
Jadeja then also ended the English innings, sending back a well settled Buttler, who was racing towards his ton.
Looking for a big shot on a length ball, which turned a bit, a thick edge off Buttler’s bat landed in the hands of Ajinkya Rahane at the slip.
England resumed from their overnight score of 198/7 and after the addition of just 16 runs to their overnight score, the hosts received the first blow as Jadeja caught Rashid (15) in front of the stumps.
Buttler was then joined by Broad and the duo denied the visiting bowlers any further success as they fought back with a 90-run partnership to help England reach 304/8 at lunch.
Brief scores: England 1st innings 332 (Jos Buttler 89, Alastair Cook 71; R Jadeja 4/79, Ishant Sharma 3/62, Jasprit Bumrah 3/83), India 174/6 (Virat Kohli 49, Hanuma Vihari 25 batting, R Jadeja 8 batting; James Anderson 2/20, Ben Stokes 2/44, Sam Curran 1/46)