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Friday, March 1, 2024

India nearing possible victory over England in Visakhapatnam Test


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Visakhapatnam: India sent England on the backfoot by picking up five wickets in the first session of Day 4 in the second Test here on Monday.

At lunch, England were staring at a possible defeat as they were reduced to 194/6, needing a herculean 205 runs in the fourth innings.

Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow looked ominous as England were cruising along at the rate of 5 runs per over, but India bounced back in the last couple of overs, snapping them up nearing lunch.

Crawley’s wicket broke England’s backbone as he was going great guns on 73, having taken on Jasprit Bumrah in the morning before fending off Ravichandran Ashwin nicely. He fell to Kuldeep Yadav who was brought on only minutes before the lunch break, and struck in his very first over.

Before him, Ashwin picked up two wickets and needed one more wicket to get 500 Test wickets. Axar Patel, however, went at over five runs an over.

It all started with overnight batsman Rehan Ahmed hitting Indian bowlers even as India captain Rohit Sharma persisted with an expensive Axar, who at last broke a 45-run stand by trapping Rehan leg before.

Ollie Pope and Crawley continued with their blitzkrieg. However, the English opener was very mercurial as he put to good use his reach and punished the balls in the hitting zone.

Not satisfied with his usual tactics, Ashwin went around the wicket for a change and immediately started to bother the batsmen who looked edgy against him.

The spinner had Pope caught sharply at slip by Rohit and beat an attacking Joe Root in flight to have him caught as well. But Crawley and Bairstow came hard against India with a quickfire 40-run stand.

Two close LBW calls reversed the fortunes in India’s favour late in the session. First Kuldeep foxed Crawley LBW on DRS, while Bumrah had Bairstow that nipped back after dishing him with a series of away-balls.

Brief Scores: India 396 (Yashasvi Jaiswal 209; James Anderson 3-47, Rehan Ahmed 3-65) & 255 (Shubman Gill 104, Axar Patel 45; Tom Hartley 4-77, Rehan Ahmed 3-88) lead England 253 (Zak Crawley 76, Ben Stokes 47; Jasprir Bumrah 6-45, Kuldeep Yadav 3-71) & 194/6 (Zak Crawley 73; R Ashwin 3-42) by 205 runs

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