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Sharma, Jadeja defiant tons drag India out of doldrums

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RAJKOT: Captain Rohit Sharma and middle-order batter Ravindra Jadeja smashed defiant hundreds to drag India out of the doldrums and into a comfortable 326-5 on the opening day of the third Test against England on Thursday.

India were reeling at 33-3 inside the opening hour after Mark Wood pro­ved the value of extra pace on a docile track at the Saurashtra Cricket Assoc­iation Stadium.

Sharma and Jadeja rebuilt the innings with a 204-run stand to drag the hosts back into the contest.

The marathon stand was India’s first century partnership and the best so far by either team in the five-match series, level at 1-1.

Jadeja was batting on 110 at stumps, his fourth Test hundred, with night-watchman Kuldeep Yadav on one at the other end.

Sharma’s stellar 131 contained three sixes, 14 fours and plenty of drama.

The opener suffered a blow to his helmet, was dropped in the slip and succeeded in having an lbw decision against him reversed en-route to his 11th Test hundred innings.

Sharma’s decision to bat on a flat surface was hardly surprising but Wood tormented the batters with his express speed.

The fast bowler had Yas­h­a­svi Jaiswal (10) caught in the slip in his second over and Shubman Gill fell caught behind for a duck in Wood’s next.

England captain Ben Stokes, playing his 100th Test, introduced spin in the ninth over and was rewarded immediately as Tom Hartley dismissed Rajat Patidar for five.

Wood continued to bowl with relentless hostility at the other end, hitting Sharma on his helmet grille on one occasion.

The opener got a life on 27 when he edged Hartley and Joe Root spilled the catch at slip.

Sharma was adjudged lbw to James Anderson but the decision was reversed after replays confirmed the ball had hit bat first.

Sharma and Jadeja denied England a breakthrough in the second session dragging India back into the contest.

Sharma took 157 balls to bring up his hundred and the muted celebration indicated his resolve to carry on but Stokes and Wood combined to scupper that plan.

The short-ball tactics they pursued against Sharma paid off as the batter slapped the ball from Wood to Stokes at midwicket.

“Was a great start,” England assistant coach Paul Collingwood told reporters. “We threw everything up in terms of plans and field positions, we fought hard all the way through the day and right till the end,” he said.

“It was a hard-fought day and we will see tomorrow. Hopefully take some wickets in the morning.”

Debutant Sarfaraz Khan shrugged off early jitters and raced to a 48-ball fifty before his entertaining knock of 62 was cut short.

Jadeja was on 99 when his hesitation led to Sarfa­raz being run out. A furious Sharma was seen hurling his cap on the floor in the pavilion after the dismissal.

“I was padded up for almost four hours and was thinking, ‘I have been so patient in my life, (just) a little more patience now,’” Sarfaraz told reporters. “I went inside and was initially nervous for a few balls but with such a good practice and hard work it all went well.”

Jadeja, who missed the second match with a hamstring injury, raised his ton with a single and celebrated by swinging the bat in his trademark sword dance.

Wicket-keeper Dhruv Jurel also made his Test debut for India in the match.


INDIA (1st Innings):

Y. Jaiswal c Root b Wood 10

R. Sharma c Stokes b Wood 131

S. Gill c Foakes b Wood 0

R. Patidar c Duckett b Hartley 5

R. Jadeja not out 110

S. Khan run out (Wood) 62

K. Yadav not out 1

EXTRAS (B-1, LB-3, NB-2, W-1) 7

TOTAL (for five wickets, 86 overs) 326

STILL TO BAT: D. Jurel, R. Ashwin, J. Bumrah, M. Siraj

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-22 (Jaiswal), 2-24 (Gill), 3-33 (Patidar), 4-237 (Sharma), 5-314 (Khan)

BOWLING: Anderson 19-5-51-0 (1nb), Wood 17-2-69-3 (1w, 1nb), Hartley 23-3-81-1, Root 13-1-68-0, Ahmed 14-0-53-0

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2024

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