Crawley cracks fifty but late strikes by Kuldeep prevent Eng’s dash at Lunch

Dharamsala, Mar 7 (UNI) Zak Crawley’s 14th Test match half-century had put England on top but the late strike by India in the session by India evened things out at the stroke of Lunch on Day 1 of the fifth and final Test match here on Thursday.

The late strikes were orchestrated by wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav on a pitch that has been fancied as seamer-friendly. Ravichandran Ashwin, who is playing his 100th Test, also spun doubts into the minds of English batsmen.

The match began with loads of pageantry involving two players Ravichandran Ashwin and Jonny Bairstow who are playing their 100th Test match, besides Devdutt Padikkal is making his debut.

After opting to bat first, the English openers survived an array of swingers from Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj in the first hour of play. But in the next hour, Ben Duckett and Crawley gained confidence and played with a great degree of determination.

However, the scoring rate did not come in Bazball style but came at a fair pace. Duckett tried to tear apart Kuldeep in his very first over, but it backfired for the tourists.

After cracking two boundaries, Duckett tried a wild slog across the line, only to slice it over extra cover where Shubman Gill covered good ground towards his back to take a fine catch by lunging forward with a tumble.

This was a much-needed breakthrough for India as England were just starting to look dangerous after the openers put on 64 for the first wicket in 18 overs.

Duckett’s wicket did not deter Crawley who looked solid against pace and spin. He executed lovely drives through the off-side and courageously lofted Ashwin for a six.

Ollie Pope, on the other hand, looked scratchy in his brief stay and was dismissed at the stroke of Lunch as he missed a lofted shot dancing down and Dhruv Jurel completed the easiest of stumpings.

Brief scores: England 100/2 (Zak Crawley 61*; Kuldeep Yadav 2-22) vs India

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