Eng­land in driver’s seat in first Test

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -


Teenager Haseeb Hameed struck an un­beaten half-cen­tury on de­but as Eng­land put them­selves in a dom­i­nant po­si­tion in the first Test against In­dia at Ra­jkot yes­ter­day. At the end of day four, the tourists were 163 runs ahead of the top-ranked hosts with Hameed (62 not out) and skip­per Alas­tair Cook (46 not out) giv­ing their side a fly­ing start in the sec­ond in­nings.

Hameed, watched by his In­dian-born fa­ther in the stands, bat­ted con­fi­dently, hit­ting five fours and a six dur­ing his 141-minute stay at the wicket.

At stumps, Eng­land were 114-0 af­ter mak­ing 537 in their first foray at the Saurash­tra Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion ground, host­ing its first Test ever. In­dia were bowled out for 488 in the post-lunch ses­sion with leg-spin­ner Adil Rashid (4114) emerg­ing as the most suc­cess­ful bowler. With three ses­sions to go on a bats­man-friendly wicket, Eng­land have now put them­selves in a po­si­tion to dic­tate terms to their for­mi­da­ble ri­vals. Rashid chose to be cau­tiously op­ti­mistic of Eng­land’s chances of fin­ish­ing the game on top.

“There’s still a lot of cricket to be played to­mor­row (Sun­day),” said Rashid.

“First we have to come out and put runs on the board and see where we are at lunchtime. “If we are in a good po­si­tion we might have a lit­tle bowl at In­dia and see what hap­pens.” Rashid was also all praise for Hameed, call­ing him a “great tal­ent” who worked very hard in the nets and was a good player of spin. Eng­land came into this five-match se­ries af­ter a de­mor­al­is­ing first-ever Test de­feat to min­nows Bangladesh, and with a squad packed with in­ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers.

The home side owed much to Ravichan­dran Ash­win, who struck a cru­cial half-cen­tury to re­strict In­dia’s firstin­nings deficit to 49 runs. Ash­win, who came in to bat when the hosts were placed on a shaky 349 for five, made 70 off 139 balls to frus­trate the vis­i­tors.


Ash­win com­pleted his sev­enth Test half-cen­tury in the process, em­pha­sis­ing once again his all-round skills.

When Eng­land last toured In­dia in 2012, Ash­win had proved to be a thorn in their flesh, av­er­ag­ing over 60 with the bat. It was also the last time that a vis­it­ing team took a first-in­nings lead in a Test in In­dia. In­dian bats­man Mu­rali Vi­jay said he ex­pected his side to bounce back in the game. “It’s still a pretty good wicket but it has gone slower. There is a lot of as­sis­tance for spin­ners,” he said.

“We still have a chance and if we take 3-4 early wick­ets it will be an in­ter­est­ing game.” The morn­ing ses­sion saw In­dia los­ing in-form skip­per Vi­rat Kohli to a freak dis­missal when the bats­man was on 40. Kohli’s back leg hit the stumps and dis­lodged a bail as he tried to pull away a short de­liv­ery from Rashid.

He be­came the sec­ond In­dian skip­per to be hit-wicket af­ter Lala Amar­nath in the 1948-49 se­ries at home against the West In­dies. Kohli was also out in a sim­i­lar fashion in a one-day in­ter­na­tional against Eng­land in Cardiff in 2011.

In­dia, 319-4 overnight, started the day cau­tiously with Kohli and Ajinkya Ra­hane (13) not tak­ing any un­nec­es­sary risks against a dis­ci­plined Eng­land at­tack.

But they were quick to latch on to poor de­liv­er­ies, with Ra­hane im­pe­ri­ously pulling a short ball from Chris Woakes to the square leg fence. Ra­hane’s flour­ish, how­ever, proved short-lived as he lost his stumps to An­sari af­ter com­pletely mis­judg­ing the length.

But it was the dis­missal of Kohli, who has scored two Test dou­ble cen­turies this year, which hit In­dia the hard­est.

The oth­er­wise pro­lific Kohli had been keen to im­prove his dis­mal av­er­age against Eng­land but failed to build on his good start. He hit five fours in his 95ball knock. The home team have won 12 and drawn one of their last 13 Tests at home since Eng­land’s his­toric 2-1 tri­umph in In­dia in 2012. — AFP

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