4th Test: Spinners help England take the upper hand as India trail by 134 runs

Ranchi, Feb 24 (IANS) Spinners Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley played starring roles to help England reach a commanding position at stumps on Day Two of the fourth Test against India at the JSCA International Stadium here on Saturday.

In the morning, resuming from 302/7, England added 51 runs to their total, with Ollie Robinson making 58, also his maiden half-century in this format. But they lost their last three wickets for six runs in the span of 17 balls, two of which were picked by Ravindra Jadeja to be India’s stand-out bowler with 4-67.

From being 112/5 at lunch on Day One, England will be satisfied to get a 350-plus total, with Joe Root remaining unbeaten on 122. Bashir, playing just his second Test, took 4-84 and bowled an unbroken spell of 31 overs to get his first four-wicket haul in red-ball cricket, while Hartley scalped 2-47 on a deteriorating pitch to leave India in trouble at 219/7 and trail England by 134 runs.

Things could have been worse for the hosts if not for the unbroken 42-run stand, off 106 balls, between Dhruv Jurel (30 not out) and Kuldeep Yadav (17 not out). In response to England’s 353, India lost captain Rohit Sharma early after he pushed forward to a length ball from James Anderson and got a healthy nick behind to keeper Ben Foakes.

Yashasvi Jaiswal, the leading run-scorer in the series, was cautious against fast bowlers early on and even survived an outside edge due to playing with soft hands off Robinson. He then played back-to-back fours -– via drive and whip off his pads -– against Anderson, before giving the same treatment to Robinson in the last over before lunch break.

Post lunch, Shubman Gill began by effortlessly driving Bashir through extra cover for four, followed by flicking and driving off Anderson for a brace of boundaries. Jaiswal lofted Bashir over long-on for six and had a narrow escape when Ollie Robinson extracted an outside edge, which was dying on keeper Ben Foakes.

Foakes felt he cleanly took the catch, but replays showed the ball bouncing before going into the gloves. Gill brought his fast hands into play by cracking a cut and guiding off Robinson for back-to-back fours, before being trapped LBW by Bashir via a delivery, which turned sharply to beat the inside edge.

Gill went for a review, but replays showed the ball would hit the stumps, bringing an end to his 82-run partnership with Jaiswal, who got his fourth half-century of the series with a single off Hartley. Rajat Patidar impressed with his dabs, flicks and punches to collect four boundaries quickly, but fell to Bashir after being trapped LBW by a delivery that skidded on from outside off.

The DRS showed the ball hitting leg-stump, with the impact on the umpire’s call, meaning Patidar’s stay ended at 17. Ravindra Jadeja smashed back-to-back leg-side sixes off Hartley after surviving an LBW review on the previous delivery.

But Bashir bowled a top-spinner from the good length and had some extra bounce to catch Jadeja’s inside edge and the ball lobbed to Ollie Pope at short leg, giving him his third wicket before tea break. The final session began with Sarfaraz Khan surviving two run-out chances, followed by Jaiswal resuming from 54 not out with three boundaries off Bashir.

The off-spinner eventually had the last laugh by getting the short ball to stay low and Jaiswal, moving backwards for a cut, only saw the delivery hitting the toe-end of the bat and crash into middle stump. Hartley increased India’s troubles by enticing Sarfaraz Khan to go for a drive and had the outside edge caught by a diving Joe Root at slip.

Hartley had his second wicket when he trapped Ravichandran Ashwin LBW with the one that kept low and hit him straight on the pads. Ashwin went for the review, but replays showed the ball hitting the leg stump, with impact on the umpire’s call. Jurel and Kuldeep hit two boundaries each to keep India afloat till the stumps arrived.

Earlier, Day Two began with Robinson resuming from 31 not out and flicking Mohammed Siraj for a boundary. Shortly after, India took the second new ball, but Robinson continued to churn out boundaries –- cutting, driving and pulling Akash Deep for three boundaries.

Robinson got his maiden Test fifty with a sweep off Jadeja over square-leg going for four. But the left-arm spinner had the last laugh as Robinson attempted to reverse-sweep which brushed his glove before going through to Jurel, who took a sharp low catch, ending his 102-run partnership with Root.

Three balls later, Bashir went for a wild slog off Jadeja, but the leading edge was snapped by backward point. Anderson was the last man to fall after being adjudged LBW in an attempt to sweep Jadeja, with Root’s 122 not out being the highlight of England’s first innings, which was taken over by the spin show from Bashir and Hartley.

Brief scores:

England 353 all out in 104.5 overs (Joe Root 122 not out, Ollie Robinson 58; Ravindra Jadeja 4-67, Akash Deep 3-83) lead India 219/7 in 73 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 73, Shubman Gill 38; Shoaib Bashir 4-84, Tom Hartley 2-47) by 134 runs

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