For all the anticipation around India’s batting approach, the host largely stuck to its methods to get to a respectable 336 for six, with Yashasvi Jaiswal’s (179 n.o., 257b, 17x4 5x6) stroke-filled century standing tall amidst the ruins of frittered starts on the opening day of the second Test here at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium on Friday.
There was the odd hiccup and the haunting prospect of its old failings revisiting India, but Jaiswal rode them out with a career-best knock that had all the trappings of the aggression needed to match England’s ruthlessness.
Throwing caution to personal milestones, Jaiswal brought up his 50, 100 and 150 with boundaries before getting to his highest Test score with an authoritative six down the ground in the dying moments of the day.
However, the wickets of debutant Rajat Patidar, Axar Patel and local boy K.S. Bharat in the final session, on a slow pitch, left England’s spinners with a smile and the match in the balance.
Earlier, yet another debutant spinner threatened to cause India discomfort when Shoaib Bashir ended skipper Rohit Sharma’s tormented stay at the crease, inducing a gentle nudge to leg-slip after bowling from wide of the crease and turning the ball into the batter.
The 41-year-old James Anderson, who warmed up with a couple of loose deliveries down leg-side, had troubled Rohit with the new ball, beating both the edges with a scrambled seam. After an incisive first spell, in which he conceded just six runs in five overs, Anderson came back just before lunch and showed his class on a benign pitch by getting Shubman Gill to edge behind, poking in the channel after lunging out.
Just a few deliveries earlier, Gill, hoping to end his fallow run of scores, got an outside edge high off the shoulder of the bat and through the slip cordon.
Heading into the break, Jaiswal gave the crowd something to cheer about as he brought up his fifty off 89 balls with a six and four off Tom Hartley, who woefully missed his lengths.
Two of the three sweeps India played in the first session were the results of Hartley’s full tosses, which were duly put away for boundaries by Jaiswal and Gill.
After Gill failed to capitalise on a start, Shreyas Iyer, also desperate for a big score, showed he was up to the task, on-driving Anderson off the last ball before lunch.
With Shreyas at the crease, the short-ball ploy was always in the offing. After keeping the ball up throughout the morning session, Anderson immediately dragged his length back, and Shreyas initially showed good resilience, pulling a couple of deliveries along the ground for singles. But he soon ran out of patience, unceremoniously shuffling across to uppercut the short stuff and got a bottom edge that dropped perilously close to the stumps.
Another bottom edge was his undoing eventually as Shreyas went back to cut a Hartley delivery that kept low, and Ben Foakes pulled off a nifty catch behind the stumps.
In between Shreyas’ struggles, Jaiswal brought up his 151-ball hundred, stepping out and launching Hartley over wide long-on for a six to get to his maiden ton at home.
The left-hander, who slapped the day’s first ball of spin through cover-point for a boundary, had no intention of relenting. Barring a couple of chances he offered, Jaiswal was assured of his footwork and accurate with his placement.
With the spinners overpitching for the large part of the day, Jaiswal was punishing down the ground while peppering the boundary on the off-side with his front-foot drives.
The shorter length only played into his hands as he unleashed his trademark cut shots, either playing late to find the gap behind point or slashing it square of the wicket.
A rare misjudgment of length had him edging one just wide of Joe Root at slip, but when Hartley overpitched the next two deliveries, which Jaiswal drove past mid-on and mid-off, England realised it had a slim margin of error to play with.
Patidar reinforced that notion when he brought out the reverse-sweep – the first by an Indian batter in 59 overs – to find his second international boundary, and when Root pitched it up slightly next ball, he leaned into a cover-drive to fetch four more.
Just as Patidar showed promise, Rehan Ahmed, who was warming up at the deep square-leg boundary, itching to bowl, was finally handed the ball in the 60th over. He immediately induced a false shot as Patidar looped one just short of the mid-on fielder.
After tea, the leg-spinner had Patidar prodding forward to defend but the ball skimmed off the inside edge and rolled onto the stumps. Axar’s cameo ended abruptly when extra bounce had him cutting one straight to point.
Bharat was greeted with a rousing ovation by his home crowd, and though he added to the cheer with a couple of boundaries, his tame cut to backward point off Ahmed, with two overs left in the day, left India in a bit of anguish.
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