MOHALI (INDIA), Nov. 27: England would be mighty pleased by the effort from their bowlers as compared to that of their batsmen the preceding day. For the second time this series, they had the Indian batsmen on the mat on Day 2 after being bowled out for 283. Had it not been for a couple of useful knocks from Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, and a late lift from R Ashwin, the tide of the match could have very well turned towards England than where it is now.
At the moment, the Test is nicely poised. India endured a slide in the final session, which saw them lose three wickets for 8 runs, before a somewhat promising stand between Kohli and Ashwin led a mini revival. At the moment, they are 271/6, trailing England by 12 runs. They're not exactly in danger, nor far from it. They'd need to get as many as possible to get close to England's first-innings score since they are the side batting last and the surface is beginning to crack.
India seemed to be on course with Pujara and Kohli shepherding their response by putting up an unbeaten 75-run stand, after the home team had lost both its openers with not much on the board. Kohli and Pujara had already bailed India out of a sticky situation when they put on 226 runs in the last Test at Vizag.
The signs were ominous for England here again. Ever since he sent the second ball of his innings towards the mid-on boundary, Pujara looked freakishly determined. He was gifted a couple of full tosses and a few dibby-dobblies for the batsman to make the merry. He drove with precision and angled his bat to guide the ball in the gaps.
And while Pujara was at it, Kohli possessed a watchful eye. As the innings progressed towards the break, he opened up. Stokes was hit for consecutive boundaries and he punished Adil Rashid for bowing half-trackers. England introduced Gareth Batty in the dying stages of the second session and he bowled a few rubbish ones. Kohli didn't spare him either. It capped a second straight session that belonged to India.
But right after the tea interval began the slide. Rashid triggered a forgettable passage of play for India. Pujara, in an attempt to send a half-tracker, found Joe Root at deep midwicket for 51. Then, in his next over, Adil foxed Ajinkya Rahane with a wrong 'un for nought.
When debutant Karun Nair walked out to bat, the scenario was ideal for him. Time and again, he has played a key role in helping Karnataka recover from a tight spot and would have expected nothing less. Nair was off the mark with a beautifully driven cover drive off Rashid. But as it would turn out, it remained his first and only scoring shot. A mix up with Kohli cut short his innings courtesy a direct hit from Jos Buttler at backward point.
Kohli then received support from Ashwin, India's newest rescue-ranger. As proceedings moved forward, a typical Ashwin innings began to unfold - delicate dabs to third-man, glance and the flicks. Together they put 48 highly important runs. It allowed India to settle those nerves. Ben Stokes would then return to pick up his newest friend Kohli, who nicked to the keeper. But with Ashwin holding guard, India breathed safe. Ravindra Jadeja, after seeing through, dealt a couple of lusty blows towards the end to Rashid. He brought up the pair's 50-run stand with a cut towards the point boundary.
In the morning session, India needed exactly 14 minutes and 23 balls to wrap up England's innings. The attraction of that period of play was Parthiv, who scored an attractive 42 with six sparkling boundaries. His drives had a certain amount of finesse. In fact, his first three scoring shots were fours; the crisp drive through mid-off was straight from the coaching manual. He drove Anderson down the ground and caressed Moeen Ali through the covers.
Given out to an umpiring error, Parthiv took the review and survived, as the ball clearly seemed to brush his jersey on its way to the keeper. But England struck quickly after lunch to remove Parthiv leg-before to a referral that went England's way when Jonny Bairstow insisted with the call.
England tried to find Vijay guilty of obstructing the field. The batsman had defended to which Anderson picked up the ball and in an attempt of throwing the ball back at the stumps, hit Vijay's pads. Vijay was out of his crease but since he had held his ground throughout that sequence, he was safe.
Short of runs lately, Vijay seemed bogged down by some good line outside off stump by Anderson and Woakes. And England finally tasted success when Stokes had him out caught behind to a ball that moved late and to which Vijay went tamely at. The batsman offered a feather off Stokes and walked off without waiting for the umpire's signal.
Brief scores: India 271/6 (Virat Kohli 62, R Ashwin 57*; Adil Rashid 3/81) trail England 283 all out by 12 runs. (PTI)
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