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India steady after England finish on 477

Wisden India logo Wisden India 17-12-2016
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In Mohali and Mumbai, India’s tail-enders batted with poise and skill to shut the door on English hopes of a way back into the series. In Mohali, the last four Indian wickets added 213. In Mumbai, it was 324. On the second day of the Chennai Test on Saturday (December 17), England paid India back with the same defiant coin, rousing themselves from 321 for 7 to 477 all out. In the 20 overs available before stumps, on an utterly placid surface, India made 60 for no loss, with KL Rahul (30) and Parthiv Patel (28) seeing off any threat offered by the new ball.

In just over an hour, India had taken three wickets. But instead of wrapping the innings up before lunch, they were thwarted for nearly two-and-a-half hours by a 108-run partnership between Adil Rashid and Liam Dawson, the Hampshire allrounder on debut. The 249-ball stand drove India to distraction and took England to the sort of total that had seemed unlikely as they collapsed in the first hour.

Scores (Day 2): England: 477 against India: 60-0

R Ashwin, who had gone wicketless in front of his home crowd on the opening day, got Ben Stokes with the fifth ball of the day, as Parthiv pouched a thin edge. Jos Buttler survived an Indian review of an lbw appeal from Ishant Sharma, but couldn’t capitalise as he played all around a straight one to be trapped in front. His exit left England 300 for 6.

Moeen Ali was being tested far more with the short ball, and he relieved some of the pressure with a six over wide long-on and a neat clip through midwicket off Ashwin. But Ishant was working up a good rhythm, and a nasty short ball thudded right into Dawson’s helmet as India sought a quick snip of the tail.

They made further inroads four balls after the drinks break, as Moeen top-edged a pull of Umesh Yadav to Ravindra Jadeja, running in from deep midwicket. His 146 had spanned just 262 balls, but his dismissal left England facing the prospect of another sub-par total.

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But Dawson, who has eight first-class centuries, was growing in confidence. After glancing Umesh for four, he cut Ashwin behind point for another boundary. A sweetly timed square drive off Amit Mishra followed, as England went to lunch having scored 68 in the session.

Rashid took the initiative after the interval, edging and glancing fours off Umesh as Virat Kohli used his bowlers in shorter spells in the stifling heat. Jadeja continued to give little away, but Rashid took heavy toll on his fellow leggie, Mishra, cutting, driving and even whipping through midwicket.

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The 400 came up, and Rashid drove Jadeja through the covers to bring up a half-century in 141 balls. He celebrated with a crisp square drive, and the century partnership left more than a few fans in the stands scratching their heads.

Rashid finally flailed at a wide delivery from Umesh to be dismissed for 60, but India’s pain was far from over. Dawson eased to his 50 in 121 balls, and Stuart Broad clattered a rapid 19 before being run out by Rahul’s throw from the deep.

Dawson and Jake Ball both slugged sixes in an Ashwin over that went for 17 – India’s premier spinner finished with 1 for 151 – before a Mishra googly put the fielders out of their misery. By then, Dawson had moved to 66 not out, the highest score by an English No. 8 on debut, surpassing the 59 made by David Bairstow – Jonny’s dad – against India at The Oval in 1979.

Along the way, M Vijay had hurt his shoulder trying to make a diving stop, and it was Parthiv that accompanied Rahul to the middle as India attempted to cut their losses. After a sedate start, both men played some pleasing strokes. Rahul played a superb cover drive off Stokes, and went through with a lofted cover drive off Moeen, despite not quite getting to the pitch of the ball.

Parthiv guided Rashid through the covers for four, and the two then saw off a tricky first over from the man of the moment, Dawson, as India gave themselves a solid platform from which to build on the third day.

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