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Lower order helps India fetch 134-run lead

India’s lower order proved to be a decisive game-changer once again with Ravindra Jadeja leading the way with a career-best knock while Jayant Yadav got his maiden fifty in Tests as India finished their first innings with a lead of 134 on Monday (November 28). Jadeja fell 10 short of a hundred but stitched together useful stands with Ravichandran Ashwin first and later Jayant as the latter continued the good work after the left-hander’s departure adding useful runs with Umesh Yadav. England were left frustrated by the lower-order that countered their defensive lines efficiently.

The process was started on the second evening with Ashwin and Jadeja adding 67 to take India within 12 runs of England’s 283. The morning session was an important one for England to stay even in the game by not allowing the tail to wag. But it started on a poor note with Chris Woakes drifting onto leg with the first ball of the day, allowing Ashwin to start with a boundary. The all-rounder continued to bat within his strengths, crunching a couple of boundaries through the offside as well.

The duo ensured that India took the lead without any trouble on the third morning, defying England once again. The visitors went into run-saving mode soon after with Stokes probing away at an outside-off line. Ashwin finally took the bait after a crucial 72, slashing out and spooning a catch to point and ending a 97-run seventh wicket stand.The momentum though had shifted decisively in India’s favour with the lead worth 18 at this stage.

Jayant Yadav did not allow it to slip, and got off to a confident start, hitting James Anderson down the ground and through cover for boundaries. Jadeja, showing more restraint than usual against short balls and wide balls alike, punctured England’s hopes with a fifty of his own before bringing out the trademark sword-swirl celebrations.

Alastair Cook’s plans were once again to bait wickets than go searching for them. Both Jayant and Jadeja were more than willing to play the patience game though. And with Jayant, Jadeja had a willing partner to get the quick singles which were important in countering England’s defensive plans. With the pitch not causing enough alarms either, England were left seemingly toothless even as India firmly got back ahead in the game.

After a prolonged time filled with copious amounts of leaves post the lunch interval, Jadeja finally took on Woakes but with calculation. Operating to a 7-2 offside field, Woakes was getting predictable with cutters outside off. He had given away just one run in his three previous overs. The 122nd over saw Jadeja walking across to the sixth stump first and smashing a ball past mid on for the boundary, the second one was better with a cut shot piercing through five men square on the offside. The third ball was a repeat of the first.

Woakes quickly called his captain and Anderson over for discussion that resulted in him bowling to the same field but from over the wicket. Jadeja responded by dancing down and across the track to pull and find the fence again. Those four boundaries quelled all of England’s tactics and spirit. It had Kohli jumping out of his chair in elation. Jadeja, and the lead, neared a hundred now. But with those boundaries, a change of bowling also resulted. Jadeja wanted a release of the bowling off Rashid and stepped down in an attempt to clear the fence but ended up skying it high to long on where Woakes completed a well-judged catch. But England’s hopes of a quick end to the innings now was dashed by a calculated Jayant Yadav.

Playing only his second Test, Jayant showed game-awareness to milk the strike when partnering Umesh Yadav, and added 33 runs for the ninth wicket and in the process getting his maiden Test fifty. Umesh was dropped on 9 by Cook, denying Stokes another wicket. Stokes could have had Jayant too in the same over, for 51, but saw another edge flying past Bairstow who was caught wrong-footed but he wasn’t to be denied this time. Continuing with the line for a 7-2 field, Stokes finally had Jayant’s patience run out as and had him cross-batting to mid on.

In his next over he had Umesh too edging to give Bairstow a record 68th dismissal for the year while Stokes himself finished with a five-wicket haul.

Brief scores: England 283 trail India 417 (Ravindra Jadeja 90, Ravichandran Ashwin 72; Ben Stokes 5-73, Adil Rashid 4-118) by 134 runs.

© Cricbuzz


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