Rajkot Test: England slightly ahead as Duckett smacks ton on Day 2

By BD Narayankar

Rajkot, Feb 16 (UNI) Ben Duckett’s fabulous century flipped momentum in England’s favour as the tourists put on 207/2 in reply to India’s 445 in the first innings on Day 2 of the third Test here on Friday.

Openers Duckett and Zak Crawley started in Bazball fad, putting on a half-century partnership for the sixth time in the series as the Indian bowlers could hardly get anything out of bland pitch.

Duckett, of the two, was in punishing mood, taking apart Indian spinners, especially Kuldeep Yadav by regularly sweeping him on the onside. Crawley, however, was sedate but played his role to nicety, until the sweep became his nemesis, helping Ravichandran Ashwin to take his 500th Test wicket.

This did not bother Duckett who kept firing the ball to the fence and notched up his third Test hundred, becoming the quickest English batsman in a Test against India. His century came off just 88 balls.

India broke the partnership as Mohammad Siraj trapped Ollie Pope in front on review, but were not lucky against Duckett as they lost two reviews against him. He forged ahead unconquered at stumps.

Earlier, England struck at the right time, forcing India to go into rebuilding mold right through the innings.

First-up, James Anderson forced nightwatchman Kuldeep to nick one to Ben Foakes and in the next over centurion Ravindra Jadeja failed to keep the shot down as he returned a simple catch to spinner Joe Root.

Having lost two quick wickets for just five runs and slithering down to 331/7, India were steering at being bowled out for a below-par total on a flat pitch. But debutant Dhruv Jurel and Ashwin’s stand pushed India’s innings further.

Jurel was severe against Mark Wood early on, and even executed an upper-cut over the slip area, but played according to the merit of the ball. He put on a very crucial 77-run stand with Ashwin.

But just as the duo looked good to take the total beyond 450, Ashwin hit Rehan Ahmed to mid-on. Jurel edged a cut immediately. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Siraj added a 30-run stand before Wood wrapped it up to finish with a four-wicket haul.

Brief Scores: India 445 (Rohit Sharma 131, Ravindra Jadeja 112, Sarfaraz Khan 62; Mark Wood 4-114) lead England 207/2 (Ben Duckett 133*) by 238 runs.

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