Spinners put England in sight of huge lead

England

India 219 for 7 (Jaiswal 73, Bashir 4-84) trail England 353 (Root 122*, Robinson 58, Jadeja 4-67) by 134 runs

Shoaib Bashir spun India into the danger zone with a four-wicket haul that ensured England ended the second day of the fourth Test still 134 runs ahead and needing only three more wickets to secure a crucial first-innings lead on a deteriorating pitch in Ranchi.

Bashir, the 20-year-old offspinner playing only his second Test after making his debut in Visakhapatnam, snared 4 for 84 during a marathon unbroken spell of 31 overs that began before lunch and ended after tea. It was broken only to change ends in the fading light of the evening to squeeze out one more over. His haul included the wicket of opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, whose half-century was India’s only score of over 40. At the close, Dhruv Jurel was unbeaten on 30, joined by Kuldeep Yadav on 17.

James Anderson had Rohit Sharma caught behind for just 2 in the third over of India’s first innings. With the pitch behaving better than its appearance suggested it might early on, before keeping increasingly low as the day wore on, Jaiswal settled in as expected of a player who had scored double-centuries in his previous two Tests.

Jaiswal and Shubman Gill started to find their groove after lunch. Gill brought up the 50 partnership with a couple of fours in one Anderson over before Jaiswal lifted Bashir over mid-on for six. England thought they’d broken their flow when Jaiswal, on 40, edged a wide delivery from Ollie Robinson low towards a diving Ben Foakes, who thought he’d taken the catch, but the third umpire ruled that it was grounded.

Bashir returned to the England side after missing the third Test, replacing Rehan Ahmed, and doubled his wicket tally, his latest efforts putting England in position to level the series 2-2 with three days remaining.

He had Gill lbw after an 82-run stand with Jaiswal, which allowed India to recover from 4 for 1 to 86 for 2, with one that turned sharply to beat the inside edge. He then rapped Rajat Patidar on the pad with one that skidded on from outside off stump and would have gone on to ping leg.

Ravindra Jadeja crashed back-to-back sixes over the leg side off Tom Hartley after surviving England’s lbw review the previous ball, but he was Bashir’s third wicket, defending a top-spinner from a good length which hooped into Ollie Pope’s hands at short leg.

But it was Bashir’s fourth wicket that was the most crucial. Jaiswal was the steadying influence after Rohit’s early exit, reaching 73 off 116 balls with eight fours and a six, moving down the wicket and thrashing Bashir over long-on. But when he moved back to a length ball that stayed low and crashed into middle stump, India were well and truly in trouble.

Bashir’s performance signalled the arrival of a player for whom the journey hadn’t been smooth. Plucked from relative obscurity with a first-class average of 67 ahead of the tour, he returned home from England’s pre-series training camp in the UAE while a visa delay was ironed out and missed the first Test. On Saturday, all that seemed a long way behind him.

Left-armer Tom Hartley, the third prong in England’s young spin brigade, chimed in with the wickets of Sarfaraz Khan, who ground through 53 balls for 14 before he was well caught by a diving Root at slip, and R Aswhin, lbw to one that stayed low and struck the batter just above the boot. Ashwin tried in vain to overturn the decision, the third umpire’s call in England’s favour after the furore of the previous match.

England had added 51 in the morning session but lost their last three wickets for six runs in the space of 17 balls. The end began after Robinson raised his maiden Test fifty, moving swiftly from an overnight 31 with five boundaries. He fell for 58, the ball brushing his glove through to the wicketkeeper while trying to reverse-sweep Jadeja. Bashir followed three balls later with a loose leading edge that was snaffled by Patidar at backward point, and Jadeja sealed his fourth wicket when he pinned a sweeping Anderson lbw.

Root remained unbeaten on 122, having resumed on 106 and shared century stands with Ben Foakes to rescue England from 112 for 5 on the opening day, and Robinson, which crucially pushed England’s total beyond the 300-mark.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo

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