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regular-article-logo Monday, 20 May 2024

India vs England Day 2: Ben Stokes' bowling comeback overshadowed by India's batting masterclass

Ben Stokes' return to bowling adds drama to an otherwise India-dominated Day 2 of the final Test, as the hosts pile on the runs

Subharup Das Sharma Dharamsala Published 08.03.24, 07:03 PM
Shubman Gill being greeted by Rohit Sharma after he hit century during the second day

Shubman Gill being greeted by Rohit Sharma after he hit century during the second day PTI

Ben Stokes' dramatic comeback as an all-rounder was a sight to behold, yet it was India's relentless gameplay that dictated Day 2 of the Dharamsala Test.

On a day tailor-made for cricket, the Dharamsala stadium witnessed a batting spectacle from the Indian top order, where Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill stood out with their commanding centuries. Their performance steered India to a robust position in the fifth Test against England, even as a late innings drama unfolded, briefly shaking their dominant stance. By day's end, India had mounted a formidable 473 for 8, carving out a hefty lead of 255 runs and sending a clear signal of intent.

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The duo, with determination in their strides and under the radiant sunshine, immediately took the attack to the English bowlers. Their approach was both aggressive and measured, setting the tone for what was to follow.

Together, they stitched together a 171-run partnership that was nothing short of a masterclass in batting. This partnership, a harmonious blend of elegance and aggression, electrified the picturesque hills of Dharamsala, firmly establishing India's dominance in the game.

Following the remarkable foundation laid by the dynamic duo, the day largely swung in India's favor. Their stellar knocks propelled India into a position of dominance, an advantage that remained largely unchallenged despite a late innings stumble. By the conclusion of the day's play, India had amassed a towering score of 473 for 8, securing a substantial lead of 255 runs.

The morning session kicked off under a bright sky, with Rohit and Gill at the crease, exuding confidence and a promise of aggression. Their intent was clear from the get-go, unsettling the English bowlers with a blend of meticulous shot selection and bold strokes. The duo stitched together a 171-run partnership for the second wicket, a masterclass in batting that laid a robust foundation for India. Rohit's 103 off 162 balls and Gill's 110 off 150 painted a picture of dominance, a reminder of their ability to shift gears and control the game's tempo.

After the departure of Rohit and Gill, debutant Devdutt Padikkal and the ever-energetic Sarfaraz Khan took center stage. Padikkal' classy 65 off 103 balls and Sarfaraz's rapid 56 off 60 on the spinners were highlights in their own right, showcasing the blend of youth and experience within the Indian squad. Padikkal's innings was particularly noteworthy, displaying a maturity beyond his years and hinting at a bright future ahead.

However, cricket's inherent unpredictability came to the fore in the final session, when India experienced a hiccup, losing five wickets for just 97 runs. England's bowlers, particularly off-spinner Shoaib Bashir (4/170 in 44 overs) and left-arm spinner Tom Hartley (2/126 in 39), managed to claw back into the contest with late wickets. Bashir, initially taken apart by the Indian openers, found his rhythm in the dying moments of the day, a significant shift that momentarily tilted the scales in England's favor.

Despite these brief moments of English resurgence, the day's highlight remained the solid foundation laid by India's top-order. With the top-five batters crossing the fifty-run mark, the hosts demonstrated a depth in batting that few teams can boast of. This was further exemplified by the late partnership between Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah, which ensured no further damage and kept India in a position of strength.

Ben Stokes' return to bowling after a lengthy hiatus due to injury added another layer to the day's narrative. His delivery to dismiss Sharma was nothing short of spectacular, a moment that briefly ignited hope within the English camp. James Anderson, too, contributed to this spark by claiming his 699th wicket, hinting at potential shifts in momentum that ultimately proved fleeting as India regained their footing.

As the day wound down, with India firmly in the driver's seat, the pitch showed no significant demons, suggesting some more runs could be on the cards. The stage is set for an intriguing battle ahead, with England needing to regroup and respond strongly to challenge India's dominance.

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