India on top as England's top order falters

England was reduced to 103 for 5 at stumps on Day Two of the second Test in reply to India's first innings total of 455. Off-spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Jayant Yadav, and seamer Mohammad Shami were all among the wickets for India.

Shami

Mohammad Shami (second from left) broke Alastair Cook's off-stump to have him dismissed for 2.   -  Reuters

This was pulsating cricket. Jayant Yadav covered ground like a gazelle, then picked and released the ball in one fluid motion from deep square-leg. Collecting the flat throw with his back to the stumps and then flicking the sphere in a flash to the target was wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. Young opener Haseeb Hameed was caught short of the ground.

> Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Cheteshwar Pujara had spoken about ‘intent’ after Day One and the Indians displayed the same quality on the second day of the second Test at the Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy Stadium here on Friday.

And England, on a surface that encouraged Indian spinners, was struggling at 103 for five at stumps. Earlier, India had made 455 in its first innings. This pitch was very different from the one where the first Test in Rajkot was played. The ball gripped for the spinners and the turn off the pitch was faster. Certain balls bounced more than usual while a few others kept low.

 

The Indian spinners were humming. Ravichandran Ashwin had a good day; he made a resolute 58 (95b, 6x4) and then produced a gem to get rid of Ben Duckett. The tantalising delivery of flight, drift and turn rearranged the left-hander’s stumps.

Then, Joe Root, reading Ashwin from the hand and picking the length well till that point, self-destructed. He charged down to Ashwin in a moment of madness and holed out to mid-off.

> Read: DRS - a work in progress for India

Root (53, 98b, 6x4), playing late and using the crease well, treated every ball on its merit until his harakiri. His defence was secure and attack sure-footed.

Disciplined bowling

England had been rocked at the start. Mohammad Shami, operating with pace and control in a torrid spell, broke Alastair Cook’s off-stump with a delivery of speed and seam. Since Shami was bowling over the wicket, the left-handed Cook played for the angle but the ball nipped back from a good length. What a delivery!

> Stats from Day Two

Umesh Yadav, too, was lively on a sub-continental track with the ball hitting the bat hard. The pressure was clearly on England.

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Debutant Yadav relished his day out, bowling his off-spin tidily. He has a little jump at delivery stride that perhaps helps him in his load-up. To his credit, he asked for and won a review against Moeen Ali when the left-hander came down the track and then padded him. Jayant would have struck again after beating Ben Stokes with an off-spinner but the bails stayed put.

> Read: Ashwin pleased with all-round display

In the morning, Kohli continued to impress. There was a deep point and a man at the cover point fence. Still, Kohli square drove Stuart Broad to the fence, bisecting the two fielders. The Indian captain’s dextrous wrists enable him to direct the ball to the empty areas at the last moment.

Off-spinners’ alliance

Kohli (167, 267b, 18x4) was looking good for more when he was lured into a drive by off-spinner Moeen for Stokes to hold a reflex catch at slip. Off the previous delivery from Moeen, Stokes put down an easier one off Ashwin (on 17).

The speed at which Moeen operates sometimes nullifies his turn. He is also more of an over-spin bowler. This said, the delivery with which Moeen trapped Wriddhiman Saha leg-before spun big and sharp. The off-spinner bowled a much better line on Day Two - just outside off-stump - getting the ball to turn into the batsman a shade and straightening the odd one.

Ashwin, once again, was solid with the bat. He gets into a position quickly since he picks the length early. This is precisely why he appears to have so much time for strokes, both vertical and horizontal, on either side of the wicket.

Before Stokes forced him to nick one outside off, Ashwin (58, 95b, 6x4) had a useful 64-run eighth-wicket association with debutant Jayant Yadav. Jayant (35) displayed good temperament for someone playing his first Test. His methods at the crease were compact too; he collected runs with deft deflections.

India now has the momentum.