Rajkot | Ravichandran Ashwin struck a gritty 70 as India were bowled out for 488 to concede a 49-run first innings lead to England on the fourth day of the opening cricket Test here today.
The trio of slow bowlers from the visiting team — Adil Rashid, Zafar Ansari and Moeen Ali — used the wearing track at the SCA Stadium to extract spin and bowled out the home side at the stroke of tea.
India, who began the day at 319 for four, lost Ajinkya Rahane (13) and captain Virat Kohli (40) in quick succession in the first session. Ravichandan Ashwin (70) Wriddhiman Saha (35), local star Ravindra Jadeja (12) and Umesh Yadav (5) were the Indian players who were out in the second session.
Ashwin, who compiled his seventh half century in his 40th Test and third against the tourists, was the last to depart when he was caught in the deep off Moeen Ali after having added 29 runs for the last wicket with Mohammed Shami who was not out eight after a stay of half an hour.
Left-spinner Rashid was the most successful bowler with 4 for 114 while off-spinner Moeen and left-arm spinner Rashid picked up two wickets apiece. The other two wickets were shared by pacers Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes.
The strong Indian reply has dented England’s chances of forcing a win and with just four sessions left and the match seems headed towards a draw.
In the first session, India lost Kohli and Rahane within 15 minutes and in a span of 17 balls to be on top before the hosts recovered to reach 411 for six at lunch in reply to England’s 537.
Kohli became the first Indian skipper in over 65 years to be dismissed hit-wicket, while Rahane got out cheaply before Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha (35) steadied the rocking boat with a half century stand.
Both Rahane and Kohli were out to pull shots on a wicket where the odd ball had started turning and jumping from the footmarks or widening cracks.
Rahane was out when he misread a straight ball from left-arm spinner Ansari. He tried to pull off the back foot and the ball hit the top of the middle stump.
It was the first big blow of the day and an even bigger one followed when Kohli, who looked well-set and had eschewed risky shots, went back to pull the ball from leggie Rashid but trod on his wicket as his left leg touched the base of the stump and disturbed the bails.
Kohli thus became the second India captain to get out hit wicket after Lala Amarnath in 1948-49 at the Chepauk in Chennai against Trevor Goddard’s West Indies.
It was also the 22nd time that an Indian batsman was out in this freak manner, with Lala’s son Mohinder heading the list having been out thrice in this fashion, and the first time since V V S Laxman got out hit-wicket in 2002 against the West Indies at St John’s, Antigua.
At the lunch break, India were 126 runs behind. The home team added 92 runs in the first session in 98.3 overs.
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