• Thursday, June 30, 2022

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England in control despite Pujara-Rahane defensive masterclass

Ajinkya Rahane after getting to his fifty as Pujara applauds in the background. (Reuters/Paul Childs)

By: Sattwik Biswal

AJINKYA RAHANE and Cheteshwar Pujara produced a defensive masterclass to keep India alive but England looked in charge of the second Test after an enthralling fourth day’s play at Lord’s on Sunday (15).

India were 181 for 6, a lead of 154, when bad light stopped play with Rishabh Pant, their last recognised batsman, on 14 and Ishant Sharma on four.

India began their second innings 27 runs behind and by the time they had erased that deficit, both in-form openers were back in the pavilion.

Mark Wood (3 for 40) drew first blood when he dismissed KL Rahul caught behind for five with a clever change of length.

His next over turned out to be an eventful one which ended with Rohit Sharma being dismissed for 21.

Rohit dragged a chest-high ball from outside the off-stump and pulled it for an audacious six, but Wood had the last laugh in this duel.

The last ball of that over was a similar one and this time Rohit could not middle the ball and Moeen Ali took a tumbling catch at deep square leg.

India needed skipper Virat Kohli to lead by example, just like his opposite number Joe Root whose unbeaten 180 was the bedrock of England’s first-innings total of 391.

But Sam Curran had other ideas.

Kohli played a couple of gorgeous drives in his 20 before Curran found the edge of the Indian captain’s bat.

Pujara went into the match without a fifty in his last 10 innings and vice-captain Rahane has also been short of runs.

Known as accumulators in a line-up full of aggressive batsmen, both demonstrated their grit in a dogged 100-run partnership.

Pujara, who made 45, needed 35 balls to get off the mark but soaked up enough deliveries to blunt the English attack.

Rahane soldiered on at the other end, aided by a reprieve on 31 when Jonny Bairstow spilled a tough chance at point.

They kept England at bay for nearly 50 overs before Wood ended Pujara’s 206-ball vigil with an unplayable delivery that the batsman could only deflect to slip.

Moeen dismissed Rahane for 61 and Ravindra Jadeja for three to expose India’s tail.

(Reuters)

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