India bounce back against England's 'Bazballers' to level series

| | Visakhapatnam
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India bounce back against England's 'Bazballers' to level series

Monday, 05 February 2024 | PTI | Visakhapatnam

India bounce back against England's 'Bazballers' to level series

Indian bowlers won an engrossing battle against England's firebrand batting for a series-levelling 106-run victory in the second Test here on Monday, blunting 'Bazball' with their resilience in a roller-coaster contest.

England began day four at 67 for one, chasing a record target of 399. They were bowled out for 292 in the extended afternoon session.

The visiting team's no holds barred approach, which has largely been successful, did not work on this occasion as India picked up nine wickets over the course of two sessions to bounce back in the five-match series.

The third Test will be played in Rajkot from February 15.

"You know winning a Test in these conditions is not easy. (I) wanted our bowlers to step up and they did that," said an elated India skipper Rohit Sharma.

Only Zak Crawley's (73 off 132 balls) strategy of mixing caution with aggression worked before the collective efforts of Jasprit Bumrah (3/46), R Ashwin (3/71), Axar Patel (1/75) and Kuldeep Yadav (1/60) yielded the desired results for the hosts who were under pressure going into day four.

Bumrah picked up the Player of the Match honours for his overall haul of nine wickets in the game, ahead of young opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, who scored a crucial 209-run knock in India's first innings.

"He (Bumrah) is a champion player for us," reiterated Rohit.

After James Anderson claimed that India were nervous while batting in the second innings and did not know a safe target to counter 'Bazball', England walked the talk on Monday and went ballistic.

"Coming into this last innings, (we) had full belief in ourselves that we'll chase it down," England skipper Ben Stokes said at the end of the game.

His team would have been better served taking a cue from Crawley, who saw out an intense morning spell from Bumrah before going for his strokes.

Night-hawk Rehan Ahmed (23) wanted to smash his first ball of the day out of the park while Hyderabad Test hero Ollie Pope (23) and Joe Root (16) were pushing their luck, frequently attempting sweeps and reverse sweeps on a pitch with variable bounce.

The visitors managed to make 127 runs in the opening session but the loss of five wickets effectively sealed their fate.

When skipper Ben Stokes (11 off 29 balls) got run out via a brilliant direct hit from Shreyas Iyer post lunch, there was no coming back for England.

But Ben Foakes (36) and Tom Hartley (36) frustrated the visitors with a 55-run partnership for the eighth wicket.

Hartley could have been Ashwin's landmark 500th wicket but the TV umpire overturned the on-field decision of a catch as the ball had ballooned after hitting the batter's arm and not the glove.

However, Rohit and Co. Were not convinced with the DRS showing umpire's call for LBW. Since the appeal was only for a catch and not LBW, the umpire's call for the latter was not considered.

At stroke of lunch, Kuldeep Yadav dismissed Crawley while Bumrah trapped Jonny Bairstow (26) in front to deal a massive blow to England, who slipped to 194 for six at the break.

Crawley, by far the best batter on show, was adjudged LBW off Kuldeep with a close DRS call.

On the sixth ball of his first over, Kuldeep got one to turn back in from middle stump.

It seemed the ball was going down leg but DRS showed that it was hitting the leg-stump.

India's standout bowler in the game, Bumrah, bowled his heart out in the two-hour session.

For someone who was operating in four-over spells, Bumrah bowled one extra in his opening burst before returning towards the end of the session to send back Bairstow. He also cleaned up Hartley to end the game.

Root and Pope perished while going for their strokes.

Root, in particular, would be disappointed with his effort as he danced down the track and went for a wild slog without getting to the pitch of the ball to be caught at short third man, giving Ashwin his 499th wicket.

While Axar Patel found Rehan's pads with a straighter one, Pope offered a sharp catch to Rohit Sharma at first slip off Ashwin and the Indian skipper made no mistake in pouching it.

Crawley's play in the first session stood out. He was patient enough to leave balls in Bumrah's opening spell and when the champion fast bowler did for for a full ball, the England opener was quick to put it away with a straight bat.

His cover and straight drive off Bumrah were the standout strokes of his innings.

When Axar was bowling his first spell, India were a tad defensive and had both long off and long on in place for Rehan, who was promoted to bat at number three before stumps on day three.

Pope played a sweep, flick and stepped out to Axar in the same over for three boundaries.

Root, who had missed the last two sessions on Sunday due to an injured right little finger, was in full attack mode with his first two scoring shots being reverse sweep for four.

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