Dharamsala Test: Kuldeep, Ashwin and openers put India in strong position

By BD Narayankar

Dharamsala, March 7 (UNI) After the magic of Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin, the fifties by Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal helped India to get in a very strong position against England in the fifth and final Test here on Thursday.

On Day 1, the hosts were 135/1 at stumps with Rohit and Shubman Gill unbeaten on 52 and 26, with India trailing England by 83 runs.

Both Rohit and Jaiswal scripted a 104 runs stand for the first wicket in just 20.4 overs as the hosts bundled out England for 218 in the first innings, with Kuldeep (5/72) and Ashwin (4/51) sharing nine wickets among them.

Jaiswal got out soon after scoring 57, getting stumped by Ben Foakes of off-spinner Shoaib Bashir.

Ravindra Jadeja claimed a wicket as the Indian spin troika shared all the 10 English wickets.

Soon after reaching his fifty, Jaiswal was dismissed, stumped by wicketkeeper Ben Foakes of off-spinner Shoaib Bashir.

Jaiswal continued with his ‘Jazball’ cricket, crossing the 700-run mark in a series, just behind batting Maestro Sunil Gavaskar. He also broke yet another record of becoming the fastest Indian batsman to score 1000 Test runs in terms of matches played.

The Mumbaikar displayed his caution-aggression approach against spinners and pacers with aplomb as he tore apart Tom Hartley by tonking three sixes in an over.

Rohit also played his part through his delightful punches and pulls. Jaiswal lost his wicket in the process, but not before causing a major damage to England’s prospects in the first innings.

Rohit continued with his aggressive approach and Gill has made a positive start to his innings. The pitch behaved well for most of the day, but it was the skills of Indian spinners that got them wickets.

England’s rookie spin attack has not been able to get purchase out of the wicket.

England rode on the back of Zak Crawley who made a useful 79 to give a strong start to England after winning the toss.

Indian pacers, Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah, put the English openers in a spot of bother with their moving balls missing the bats in the first hour of the day.

Ben Duckett, after a scratchy start, looked ominous but became the first of Kuldeep’s five wickets. The left-arm wrist spinner sent him back in his first over, forcing a miscue from the southpaw.

The track was not rank turner, but Kuldeep’s skills did the trick to shatter the flow of English batsmen.

Ollie Pope was forced into a tangle before he tried to dance down the pitch to Kuldeep resulting in an easy stumping for Dhruv Jurel.

Ben Stokes also was sprayed with a flurry of googlies and leg breaks before the Indian wrist-spinner trapped him LBW, rooted to the crease.

Jonny Bairstow went into a fun trip by getting a couple of boundaries and sixes, but Kuldeep nailed him.

Amidst this, Jadeja made full use of the skid and hold in the pitch to scalp the wicket of big fish Joe Root.

Thereafter, England lost six wickets in just 37 balls to slip from 175/3 to 183/8.

In his 100th Test match, Ashwin (4/51) hit the final nail as he bagged the last four English wickets in a jiffy. In the initial stages, Ashwin was off-track but ensured to come back strongly later, only to bolster Kuldeep’s good work.

Apart from Crawley, none of England’s batsmen matched the English opener’s resolve and steadfastness.

Even seasoned batsmen like Joe Root and Ben Stokes were guilty of losing their wickets cheaply.

With four remaining days in store, India will want to take a huge lead and bat out England out of the match. But, fortunes change in the span of a session as it happened post-lunch session today.

Brief scores: England 218 (Zak Crawley 79; Kuldeep Yadav 5-72, Ravichandran Ashwin 4-51) lead India 135/1 (Yashasvi Jaiswal 57, Rohit Sharma 52*) by 83 runs.

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