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4th Test, Day 2: England build lead on a dried pitch, India fight back as Oval plot thickens

On Day 2 of fourth test, England hoped to bounce back from the damage done by the Indian pace attack on Day 1 but largely failed with the English innings wrapping up at 290.

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New Delhi: As Dawid Malan and nightwatchman Craig Overton stepped onto the field at The Oval Friday, the hosts hoped to recover from the damage done by the Indian pace attack on Day 1 of the fourth test between India and England. They failed, though much repair-work came from the lower order.

Umesh Yadav had some plans for England as Day 2 began. After claiming the big fish England captain Joe Root’s wicket, the previous day, the pacer was raring to go.

A few minutes into the opening session, he pushed Overton to send the ball into the hands of a leaping Virat Kohli in the slip.

With Malan’s wicket just 10 runs later, Yadav ensured that half of the English team was back in the pavilion within the first hour of the game on Day 2.

Call it the drier pitch or the resolve of Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow — with a strike rate close to 100, the two Englishmen brought the host team back in the game.

As England trailed by 63 runs, Kohli summoned Ravindra Jadeja to bowl, the first spinner in two days of play at The Oval. He looked tight and flat but pedestrian, and bowled too many no-balls. Terrible for a slow spinner.

Just as the deficit came below 50 and England’s hopes went up, Mohammed Siraj came through for India and ended the 89-run partnership by getting the ball to swing back into Bairstow’s pads. A visibly shocked Bairstow signalled for a review but lost it.

But on the other end of the wicket, Pope kept his head steady and registered his sixth Test half-century off 92 balls at his home ground when England were 167/6.

At the cusp of the tea break, Jadeja’s left-arm spin snared Moeen Ali into a hoick that landed in Sharma’s hands. Well set Ali was out again, to a familiar bowler and in a familiar fashion.

As experts had predicted before the day’s play, the drying pitch seemed favourable for batting giving England the opportunity to do damage control on Day 2.

Chris Woakes, who had hit his maiden Test century against India and machine-gunned the visitors’ batting order in this Test on Day 1, started strong with three fours in Bumrah’s first over in the final session of the day.

Shardul Thakur saved the day for India, once again, sending Pope back at 81.  With just two tail-enders left to their defence, Ollie Robinson made it easier for India as he got out at 5 off Jadeja.

That didn’t deter Woakes, who like a man on a mission added 50 to his side’s total pushing the lead to 99. His run-out in the 83rd over ended England innings at 290.

Rohit (20*) and KL Rahul (22*) gave India a much-needed safe start. At the end of the final session on Day 2 with 43 at stumps and trailing by 56 runs.

Unless the weather changes, the pitch will dry further under the sun. We might see Ali bowl in this innings and a first whiff of some slow turn too.

Rohit Sharma overtakes Kohli

Just 13 runs were enough for Rohit Sharma to get past the 15,000-mark in international cricket and surpass his captain Virat Kohli to become the world’s 5th best Test batsman, according to ICC rankings, right behind Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne.

From 16th rank, in September last year to the promotion to the world’s top five, the improvised Indian Test opener has groomed himself to be a formidable force.

He was, perhaps, one of the few batsmen who could face and score against England’s unrelenting swing bowling attack. Rohit scored 83 in the first innings at the Lord’s and 59 at the Headingley.

England captain Root currently holds the top spot of the men’s Test rankings for batsmen, followed by Kane Williamson, captain of New Zealand, and former Aussie captain Steve Smith.

Bumrah — a wicket away from a ton

Bumrah, the only Indian fast bowler among the best Test bowlers of the world today, is a wicket away from bagging 100 Test wickets.

He helped India fight back at The Oval on Day 1 by despatching the English openers in the final session of the day’s game after the batting order collapsed leaving it up to the bowlers to save the day. It turned out the right arm pacer was not so lucky on the second day.

Bumrah missed out on an opportunity during the 60th over of England’s first innings when he landed a yorker right on the mark pushing Ali to bring forth his toe out first. However, since none of the team members or Bumrah appealed for an LBW, the on-field umpire had no reason to pursue it.

With 99 wickets in 24 matches to his credit, Bumrah is expected to become the fastest Indian fast bowler to have a hundred wickets, overtaking Kapil Dev, who registered his 100 wickets in 25 games.

Brief scores: India 191 and 43/0 (Rohit Sharma 20*, KL Rahul 22*); England 290 (Ollie Pope 81, Chris Woakes 50; Umesh Yadav 76/3)


Also read: 4th Test, Day 1: Bumrah helps India fight back at The Oval, England trail by 138 runs


 

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