• Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Kuldeep routs England, openers put India in charge

India’s Kuldeep Yadav celebrates his five-wicket-haul after taking the lbw wicket of England’s Ben Stokes in the fifth test at Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh state. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Shajil KumarBy: Shajil Kumar

India bowled England out for a below-par 218 and cruised to 135-1 in their robust reply to seize early control of the fifth and final test on Thursday.

Kuldeep Yadav wrecked England’s top order and fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin polished off the tail to bundle out England in just over two sessions.

India captain Rohit Sharma combined with Yashasvi Jaiswal (57) in an opening stand of 104 to consolidate their position at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Rohit was batting on 52 at stumps with Shubman Gill (26) also looking assured at the other end.

Earlier, Ben Stokes’ decision to bat first on a belter of a track was on the expected lines and England got off to a strong start with Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett combining in an opening stand of 64.

India’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah troubled both batters with the moving ball but a breakthrough eluded the hosts until Kuldeep was pressed into the attack.

The left-arm wrist-spinner struck in his first over when Gill pulled off a spectacular catch.

Duckett (27) wanted to clear the leg side ropes but ended up offering a leading edge over cover. Gill turned and sprinted 20 yards before diving full length to land with the ball secure in his grip.

Crawley (79) brought up his fifty but Ollie Pope (11) departed on the stroke of lunch.

The England vice captain could not read Kuldeep’s googly and was so far down the track that wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel had all the time in the world to stump him.

Spin attack

At 137-2, England appeared to have weathered the early setbacks before their batting lineup was consumed by India’s three-pronged spin attack.

Kuldeep dismissed Crawley with a flighted delivery that landed outside the off-stump, sneaked through the bat-pad gap and pegged back the leg-stump.

Jonny Bairstow, playing his 100th test, hit Kuldeep for a couple of sixes but fell to the spinner after a quickfire 29.

Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Joe Root lbw for 26 and Kuldeep dealt a body blow by dismissing Stokes for a duck.

Ashwin, also playing his 100th test, then ran through the England tail.

The off-spinner removed Tom Hartley and Mark Wood in the same over and returned to bowl another two-wicket over to get rid of Ben Foakes and James Anderson.

When the teams returned, Rohit and Jaiswal led India’s reply with a century stand.

Jaiswal smashed three sixes in an over from England spinner Shoaib Bashir en route to his fifth 50-plus score in nine innings, which includes two double-hundreds.

Bashir eventually got Jaiswal stumped but India, holding an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series, will fancy a first-innings lead when play resumes on Friday. (Reuters)

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