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England pay for dropped catches as India make imposing first-innings total

In reply to India’s 445, the tourists reached 31 without loss at tea.

David Charlesworth
Friday 16 February 2024 08:59 GMT
Mark Wood reacts after seeing Ben Stokes drop Ravichandran Ashwin (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Mark Wood reacts after seeing Ben Stokes drop Ravichandran Ashwin (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki) (AP)

England were sloppy in the field as India racked up an imposing 445 on the second day of the third Test in Rajkot.

Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes reprieved Dhruv Jurel when the debutant was on 32 and, while the drops were not too ruinous, England created 15 wicket-taking opportunities in total just to bundle out India.

They were kept in the field for 130.5 overs in baking hot temperatures before reaching 31 without loss at tea, their total partly swelled by Ravichandran Ashwin running on the pitch when he was batting.

Ravindra Jadeja had received India’s first and final warning the day before for encroaching on the protected area, so when Ashwin did the same after setting off for an aborted single, umpire Joel Wilson signalled that England would be awarded five penalty runs at the start of their innings.

Jadeja would have been expected to marshal the lower order but he was dismissed for 112, leaving India on 331 for seven but Jurel (46) and Ashwin (37) helped India add 114 for the last three wickets.

England sought quick wickets as India resumed on 326 for five and the hosts added just five runs before both overnight batters were back in the pavilion. James Anderson winkled out nightwatcher Kuldeep Yadav, who edged behind, while Joe Root gratefully accepted a return catch to see off Jadeja.

It was partial redemption for Root following his drop of Rohit Sharma the previous day, which ended up costing England 104 runs, but India were far from finished with both Jurel and Ashwin capable batters.

A reshuffle in India’s order brought out Ashwin at nine, despite possessing five Test tons, and he and Jurel batted in a measured fashion, with England appearing to lack their usual vigour in the field. Jurel showed his class by uppercutting a neck-high Mark Wood bouncer for six.

A moment of drama arrived before lunch when Ashwin was sanctioned for running along the middle of the pitch, giving England five penalty runs at the start of their innings. Clearly unhappy at the decision, Ashwin nevertheless refused to succumb to a rush of blood.

Jurel had two reprieves after the resumption as Pope put down a simple chance at midwicket, while the usually reliable Stokes was unable to cling on to a sharper chance at short fine-leg.

Jurel compounded England’s lackadaisical efforts by slamming Rehan Ahmed for two sixes, although the leg-spinner took out both set batters after India had passed 400. Ashwin advanced and slammed a googly to mid-on, where James Anderson held on at the second attempt, while Jurel edged a cut shot behind.

Again, England’s work was not done as Bumrah teed off with abandon, slamming Tom Hartley high over deep midwicket, in a lively 26 off 28 balls before being trapped plumb in front by Wood.

England started their innings on five for none without facing a single delivery after Ashwin’s earlier transgression and they got a further run after Bumrah got under way with a front-foot no-ball.

Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, who was fine to bowl despite a blow to his knee while batting, delivered a probing new-ball spell but Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett were given few alarms in the half-hour before tea.

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