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Ashwin, Kohli rescue India

Indian batsmen, including flamboyant and in-form skipper Virat Kohli, were made to toil hard before R Ashwin’s counter-attacking 57 enabled the hosts to reach 271/6 at stumps on the second day of the third cricket Test.

Ashwin, Kohli rescue India
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Ravichandran Ashwin

Mohali

India are only 12 runs behind England’s first innings score of 283 after the visitors added 15 to their overnight tally of 268 for 8. It was an intriguing day of Test cricket and hosts can claim that their nose is slightly ahead thanks to the 67-run stand for the 7th wicket between Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who also smashed a quick-fire 31 not out off 59 balls. 

India’s ‘Man Friday’ was Ashwin, who again played his part albeit with the willow reaching his 9th half-century in Test cricket. Ashwin’s sequence of scores in the series reads 70, 32, 57, 7 and 57 not out (ongoing). His innings was studded with eight fours off 81 balls. Jadeja’s knock had three fours and a six. The day’s play can be called a battle of attrition with skipper Kohli curbing his aggressive stroke-play, having read the pitch really well during his patient 62 off 127 balls. It had nine fours and the partnership of 75 with Cheteshwar Pujara (51 off 104 balls) is the highest in the innings so far. 

However, Pujara was out trying to pull a long-hop and Ajinkya Rahane’s (0) wretched form continued. He failed to read a googly from England’s most successful bowler Adil Rashid (3/66 in 21 overs). Karun Nair (4) also had an inauspicious debut as he was run-out. Ben Stokes (2/48) was the other successful bowler for England. Knowing Kohli’s propensity to drive through off-side, skipper Alastair Cook removed the slips and packed the cordon four fielders with his bowlers maintaining the channel. While Kohli got nine boundaries utilising the loose deliveries, England were successful in drying up the runs. 

Kohli’s battle with Stokes was also another highlight of the day.  At the start of his innings, Kohli hit Stokes for back-to-back boundaries — through midoff and and a flick off his hips. He also hit some glorious drives of off-spinner Gareth Batty and leg-spinner Adil Rashid. When Rashid bowled a long hop it was promptly pulled towards mid-wicket fence. But as runs dried up, Kohli wanted to use the glide shot through the vacant third man region. Stokes did well to pitch it in the channel and the faint edge was taken by Jonny Bairstow. To make a point, Stokes celebrated the dismissal by making a gesture of ‘sealed lips’ referring that he won’t sledge the Indian skipper.

England bowled negative line: Pujara

Pujara and Kohli added 75 runs in 25.2 overs but the post-lunch session saw England bowling outside the channel packing the off-side cordon and the duo left a lot of deliveries. India reached 271 for six in reply to England’s first innings total of 283 at stumps on day two. “I think we did not struggle but the lines that they (England) were bowling were a little negative. But I still feel the way we batted, we showed character. We were leaving the balls outside the off-stump and we built a partnership, which was crucial for the team. “The second session was good for us. I won’t say they had an advantage as I mentioned earlier that lines that they bowled were slightly negative,” said Pujara, who scored a composed 51 before getting out to a long hop from Adil Rashid. Pujara said that there was nothing wrong in their approach during that session where they played safe rather than going for aggressive shot.  

“See, everyone has a gameplan. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the way we batted, we stuck to our plans. Obviously, in the last session, we lost many wickets, which we didn’t want to but things happen,” he said. With the ever dependable Ravichandran Ashwin at the crease with Ravindra Jadeja, having added 67 runs so far, Pujara thinks that a lead of 100 is a possibility with the gutsy Jayant Yadav to come in next. “I think we have an advantage that both our all-rounders are playing. Probably the first session will be crucial for us. Our gameplan will be really simple. Looking to (first) get a lead of around 75-100 runs and then continue batting. “Both (Jadeja and Ashwin) of them can bat. As we saw in the last game that Jayant Yadav can also bat. So our lower order has been contributing in all Test matches and we expect them to contribute on Monday as well.” Ashwin was seen hobbling while running between the wickets and Pujara said that it might be a niggle he picked up while batting. “I didn’t speak to Ash after he came out. But when he was bowling, there wasn’t anything wrong. Probably, he might have got some niggles, when he was batting. I am yet to speak to him,”  said Pujara.

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