India reach 181/6 at stumps on day four, ahead by 154 runs as Ali, Wood wreck havoc

Rishabh Pant and Ishant Sharma were batting on 14 and 4 respectively when play was called off eight short of the stipulated 90 overs because of bad light at the Lord's.

Published: 15th August 2021 11:04 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th August 2021 11:04 PM   |  A+A-

England's Moeen Ali, centre, celebrates with team captain England's Joe Root, right and England's Haseeb Hameed. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: It was with five minutes to go for the lunch interval that Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane came together. India had lost three wickets for just 55 runs in a pulsating morning session where ball held sway over bat, the lead being a slender 28 runs. 

India's two in-form batsmen, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma, were already back in the dressing room as was skipper Virat Kohli, nicking behind for the third consecutive time in this series.

Another wicket at that stage and it could have been curtains for India in front of a full-house on Sunday, the fourth day of the second Test. Pujara and Rahane were not just battling against the match situation but arguably also seeking to save their own spots in the team.

What followed were defiant knocks from Pujara (45, 206 balls) and Rahane (61, 146 balls) to ensure India stayed in the contest. 

They stitched together a partnership of 100 runs off 297 balls for the fourth wicket before their hard work was undone in the final hour of the day. Mark Wood claimed three wickets while Moeen Ali came to the fore with a couple of wickets on a pitch starting to assist the spinners.

At stumps on Day 4, India were 181/6 in 82 overs with Rishabh Pant and Ishant Sharma at the crease, and the visitors leading by 154 runs. Bad light brought an end to play with eight overs left in the day.    

Pujara and Rahane seemed to be combining for a match-defining partnership, and it needed a snorter by Wood to get rid of Pujara. 

Just a ball after Pujara pulled the England pacer to the backward square leg boundary, Wood shot back with a brute of a delivery that caught Pujara's glove and looped gently to second slip. Pujara made only 45 in the end but his 206-ball vigil was worth a lot more.  

By the time Pujara was dismissed, Rahane had crossed his half-century with a nudge towards third man for a boundary. He seemed determined for many more but lost his wicket to Moeen with just four overs left for the second new ball.  

Aside from the England pacers, the Indian batsmen also had to deal with the threat of Moeen. With the pitch showing signs of deterioration, the off-spinner got the odd ball to turn and bounce from outside the right-hander's off-stump. 

Rahane looked to cut Moeen on one such occasion but didn't quite get on top of the bounce. Fortunately for the middle-order batsman, Bairstow spilled the catch at point. Rahane was just on 31 then.  

The fact that India lost three early wickets meant that they were always up against it. Rohit, in particular, had a big part to play in his own downfall. He was looking in prime touch once again but — three balls after pulling Wood for six — ended up hooking another short delivery to Moeen at deep square leg. 

It was the third time this year that Rohit was caught hooking or pulling. After his dismissal in the first innings at Trent Bridge last week, he had said that he will continue playing the stroke. 

While it is fine for Rohit to back his natural instincts, he is succumbing to a low-percentage shot riddled with high risk, especially when there are fielders in the deep waiting to pounce on an error.


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