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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

INDvsENG: Jaiswal's 73 in vain as Bashir's spin mastery leaves India reeling in Day 2 of Ranchi Test

Despite Yashasvi Jaiswal's gutsy effort, India faces a tough challenge at 219/7, courtesy of Shoaib Bashir's career-best bowling performance on Day 2

Subharup Das Sharma Ranchi Published 24.02.24, 06:26 PM
England's bowler Shoaib Bashir bowls a delivery during the first day of the second Test cricket match between India and England, at Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam

England's bowler Shoaib Bashir bowls a delivery during the first day of the second Test cricket match between India and England, at Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam PTI

Ranchi's vibrant cricketing arena witnessed a fascinating contest between India and England on the second day of the fourth Test, a battle that leaned distinctly in visitor's favor, thanks to a young prodigy named Shoaib Bashir whose career-best four-wicket haul for 84 runs sent the Indian batting lineup into disarray, leaving them struggling at 219 for seven by the end of the day.

The day began with England adding 51 runs to their overnight score, concluding their first innings at 353. Ollie Robinson's audacious reverse sweep off Ravindra Jadeja was a highlight, though it led to his downfall at 58. Joe Root, the backbone of England's innings, remained unbeaten on 122, a testament to his enduring class and temperament. The partnership between Root and Robinson was crucial, contributing over a hundred runs and demonstrating England's depth in batting.

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As India commenced their innings, the spotlight quickly shifted to Bashir, the 20-year-old off-spinner playing only his second Test. His spell was nothing short of remarkable, as he navigated through India's top and middle order with ease. Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, and Ravindra Jadeja fell victim to his guile, leaving India reeling.

Yashasvi Jaiswal, the young opener who has been a consistent performer for India in this series, once again looked set for a big score. His 73 runs were a mix of caution and aggression, and for a while, it seemed he could steer India to a position of strength. However, Bashir's brilliance cut short his innings, a significant blow to India's aspirations.

The Indian middle order's vulnerability was exposed yet again, as batsmen struggled to adjust to the pitch's unpredictable bounce and the clever variations of the English spinners. Tom Hartley complemented Bashir well, chipping in with two important wickets, including that of Sarfaraz Khan, who had a frustrating stay at the crease.

James Anderson, the veteran pacer, made an immediate impact by dismissing Indian captain Rohit Sharma early. This wicket set the tone for England, as they maintained pressure on the Indian batsmen throughout the innings.

Despite the top-order collapse, India found some resistance through Dhruv Jurel and Kuldeep Yadav. Their partnership, though not flashy, was crucial for India to cross the 200-run mark. They showed patience and a sound understanding of the situation, adding a valuable 42 runs for the eighth wicket.

Bashir's performance was the highlight of the day. His ability to exploit the conditions and find assistance from the pitch was exceptional. Playing only his eighth first-class match, he showed maturity beyond his years, managing to dismantle the Indian batting lineup single-handedly. His spell was a mix of precision, spin, and, most importantly, exploiting the variable bounce of the pitch, which seemed to have the Indian batsmen in two minds.

England's strategy coming into the day was spot on. After a short burst from the seamers, they quickly switched to spin, a move that paid rich dividends. Bashir, entrusted with a significant workload, did not disappoint. His figures not only reflect his individual brilliance but also the faith the team management has in his abilities.

The pitch, with its uneven bounce and cracks, played a significant role in the day's play. Batsmen from both sides found it challenging to negotiate, with the variable bounce causing considerable trouble. India, in their innings, struggled to build partnerships, a factor that has been their strength in home conditions.

Looking ahead, India faces a significant challenge. Trailing by 134 runs with only three wickets in hand, the task ahead is daunting. The Indian lower order will need to show resilience and, more importantly, the ability to adapt to the conditions and the English bowling attack, which has been spot-on with their plans and execution.

England, on the other hand, will be looking to wrap up the Indian innings quickly on day three and set a formidable target. Their bowlers have been disciplined, and with the pitch offering assistance, they will be keen to exploit it further.

As the Test moves into its crucial phases, the focus will remain on how India responds to England's challenge. With the series poised interestingly, both teams have everything to play for. Bashir, the young off-spinner, has already made a statement, and it will be intriguing to see how the Indian batsmen tackle him and the rest of the English attack in the coming sessions, especially with the pitch showing signs of variable bounce and the cracks becoming more pronounced. India's approach against Bashir's spin, coupled with their strategy to counter England's seamers, will be crucial in their quest to overturn the deficit and assert themselves in this pivotal match of the series.

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