IND vs ENG, 1st Test: Rahul, Jadeja hit half-centuries as India tightens grip on second day

Twin half-centuries from Rahul and Jadeja helped India finish on 421/7 at stumps in reply to England’s 246 with a strong lead of 175 runs on Friday. 

Published : Jan 26, 2024 17:51 IST , HYDERABAD - 5 MINS READ

KL Rahul missed out on a well-deserved second Test hundred at home and ninth overall but his combative half-century put India in a commanding position at the end of day two of the first Test against England.

On a public holiday, cricket lovers thronged the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in large numbers and witnessed twin half-centuries from India’s new No. 4 Rahul, and then from Ravindra Jadeja as India finished on 421/7 at stumps in reply to England’s 246 with a strong lead of 175 runs on Friday.

The day’s play was extended by half an hour as England was 11 overs short of its scheduled quota of 90 overs. Still, the visitor fell three overs short at the end of the day’s play.

A resolute Rahul, promoted up the order, steered India to a position of strength with exemplary combative batting on a tricky surface. In the evening session, Jadeja galloped to a brilliant unbeaten half-century to take the game further away from England. Jadeja was involved in three half-century partnerships—first with Rahul, then KS Bharath and later, an unbeaten 63 off 117 balls with Axar Patel.

Jadeja wields the sword

Jadeja (81 n o, 155b, 7x4, 2x6) underlined his importance as an all-rounder by scoring his 20th half-century in Tests, and along with KS Bharat, made England fielders look like wax statues.

The Indian batters adapted to the pitch, played to the merit of the ball, used the depth of the crease, and were aided by a bowling attack that barely threatened to take wickets. The England spinners lacked control, erred in line and length, and couldn’t purchase the turn that their Indian counterparts did on the opening day. The long hops were plentiful, and the batters obliged by dispatching them to their designated spot—the boundaries.

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Jadeja, having strolled out at the fall of Shreyas Iyer, bided time and gradually found his rhythm going. The athletic all-rounder ran hard between the wickets en route to his 84-ball half-century and found a perfect ally in Bharat as the pair added 68 runs off 141 balls for the sixth wicket.

Jadeja’s most productive shot was the on-drive that fetched him a maximum and a couple of boundaries, and the southpaw also targeted the cow corner. Bharat (41, 81b, 3x4) too looked in good touch and came within touching distance of registering his maiden Test half-century, but was trapped by Root.

Rahul, the craftsman at work

India’s K L Rahul plays a shot during the 1st Test Match against England at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad.
India’s K L Rahul plays a shot during the 1st Test Match against England at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. | Photo Credit: KVS GIRI/THE HINDU

India’s K L Rahul plays a shot during the 1st Test Match against England at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. | Photo Credit: KVS GIRI/THE HINDU

The day, however, belonged to Rahul (86, 123b, 8x4, 2x6) who played a risk-free innings on a tricky pitch and helped India take the lead with a couple of sixes off Rehan Amhed, both deposited over long-on, after the lunch break.

The middle-order batter was instrumental in steering India towards a position of strength by forging crucial partnerships with Shreyas Iyer and Jadeja.

Rahul forged a 64-run stand off 106 balls with Iyer for the fourth wicket and then, a valuable 65-run partnership off 74 deliveries with Jadeja. The 31-year-old batted with surgical precision, used the depth of the crease and dealt with the deliveries late, bringing his backfoot into play. Using a strong bottom hand, Rahul got his wrists into play while playing the cut shot and also while driving the ball down the ground through and over mid-on. While the drives were gorgeous, the late cuts fetched him runs as the ball raced away to the backward point boundary on several occasions.

Rahul walked in after the fall of Yashasvi Jaiswal, who departed in the very first over of the day. Joe Root brought smiles to the England camp by taking a good catch off his own bowling but soon, the smiles turned into agony as Rahul joined hands with overnight batter Shubman Gill and kept the scorecard ticking.

Just when their partnership was prospering, Tom Hartley got his maiden Test wicket by dismissing Gill, whose poor form in whites continued. Gill looked uncomfortable against spin and after defending for a considerable period of time, the batter tried to be aggressive but hit Hartley straight to mid-wicket. It was another missed opportunity for Gill, who is yet to hit a half-century in 10 innings.

India was three down when Shreyas Iyer walked in, and Stokes, knowing his weakness against the short ball, brought Mark Wood straight into the attack.

A well-set Rahul, however, foiled the play as he smashed Wood for three boundaries in an over - a controlled pull round the corner being the pick of the shot to ease off the pressure—and most importantly, kept Iyer out of Wood’s range.

Iyer did eventually face Wood and got off the mark with a pull for a single, then deposited Hartley over the deep mid-wicket for a maximum to give impetus to his innings.

The introduction of Rehan Ahmed didn’t make any difference as India motored on, with Rahul bringing up his half-century in 72 balls. The batter got a life after he was dropped by Ben Foakes off Root and Rahul made the opportunity count with a crafty half-century as India entered the lunch break scoring 103 runs in the opening session and trailing by just 24 runs.

The post lunch period saw a well-set Rahul drive India further and milked the bowlers by playing shots on either side of the wicket without getting affected by the slowness of the surface.

England did strike, with Rehan Ahmed dismissing Iyer as the batter picked up a googly only to find Hartley at deep mid-wicket. Although India lost a wicket at an important juncture, Rahul secured the lead and was joined by Jadeja.

Within no time, Jadeja and Rahul raised the 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket in just 51 balls as the duo motored on, keeping the England bowlers at bay.

The stage was set for Rahul to reach the three-figure mark, but Hartley muted the crowd with a long hop that the batter hit straight to Rehan at deep mid-wicket. Rahul missed the ton, but the ‘man of crisis’ delivered on promotion and along with Jadeja shut the door on England.

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