Ravichandran Ashwin, India's leading bowler not only in the ongoing Test series but in recent home engagements as well, cut disappointing figures of 1/151 as England piled a commanding first innings score of 477.
Ashwin's misery, which happened to take place in front of his home crowd, summed up India's day with the ball to a large extent. The leading off-spinner gave the local fans a fleeting hope of bowling their opponents out for a score less than 350, before England's lower-order rallied to produce a terrific effort, and stretched their score to one within striking distance of the 500-run mark.
While Ishant Sharma trapped the dangerous Jos Buttler lbw, it was Umesh Yadav who got the prized wicket of the morning — that of Moeen Ali, who was batting on 120 overnight, and could only add 26 on the second day. Much like a couple of his dismissals earlier in the series, the all-rounder fell to the short ball, this time off Umesh Yadav's bowling. At 321/7, the possibility of bowling the visitors out without causing much casualty seemed to be a real possibility.
However, debutant Liam Dawson (66 not out) joined forces with Adil Rashid (60) down the order to forge what turned out to be a life-saving partnership for Alastair Cook's men. By the time the last wicket — that of Jake Ball — fell, England's score was one that would already have started to worry the hosts in their pursuit of completing a crushing 4-0 series victory.
Ashwin isn't the only local boy in this Indian team, and the day did not turn out to be a good one for Murali Vijay, the other Chennaite in the team. The opening batsman had to leave the field shortly after the resumption of play after lunch, the reason being a shoulder injury sustained from an attempted dive.
However, Vijay's absence meant that wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel got another chance to shine at the top of the order, as he forged a fruitful 60-run unbeaten opening stand with KL Rahul. The latter seemed a little uncomfortable in the 68 deliveries that he had faced, limping in pain at one point while playing a late cut towards third man, presumably due to a muscle pull. However, his stay on Day 2 was not without a couple of exquisite strokes, including a cover drive that would have made Sachin Tendulkar proud.
All that the opening pair need to do for the hosts on the third day, if they are to keep the possibility of a win alive in this match, is to stretch their opening stand to the three-figure mark before starting to accelerate the innings. Virat Kohli and the rest of the Indian batting order will profit, especially mentally, from a strong opening stand and could close the gap to as much as they can till the end of day's play.
The conditions have been ideal for batting so far in the match, and will not be expected to differ greatly on the third day. India need to keep the party going with the bat, as has been the case in the series so far.
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Updated Date: Dec 17, 2016 22:06:37 IST