Chennai: A superb century by Rohit Sharma and a fluent half century by vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane helped India score 300 for six at close on the opening day of the second test against England here today.
After losing the first test by 227 runs, India batting first after winning the crucial toss, lost wickets on either side of the 162-run fourth wicket stand in 52.4 overs between Rohit Sharma (161, 231 balls, 18x4, 2x6) and Rahane (67, 149 balls, 9x4) as England fought back in the final session with three wickets.
But still the home still seemed to be in control considering that the pitch is offering good turn and bounce to the spinners. At close Rishab Pant (33, 56 balls, 5x4, 1x6) and debutant Axar Patel (five, 7 balls 1x4|) were at the crease.
For England, left arm spinner Jack Leach, offie Moeen Ali picked two wickets each, while rookie paceman Olly Stone and skipper Joe Root picked a wicket each.India started badly losing opener Subman Gill (0), who shouldered arms to Olly Stone to a ball that came in, recovered through an 85-run second wicket stand between Rohit and Cheteswar Pujara(21, 58 balls, 2x4) in 18.5 overs, before losing two quick wickets, including that of skipper Virat Kohli.
It was an eventful and entertaining first session as a 12,000 strong crowd, back into the stadium for the first time post the covid pandemic, enjoyed every moment as Rohit entertained with some blazing shots. He cut drove and pulled and employed the sweep shot effectively against the spinners as runs came at a brisk pace.
However, England managed to break the shackles when Pujara played a forward defensive shot to Leach and the outside edge was held by Ben Stokes low to his left in the slip after Rohit, who dominated the second wicket stand, reached his 50 in just 47 balls.
Kohli arrived to a cheering crowd, but lasted only five balls as he fell for a rare duck. He missed a well flighted delivery from Moeen Ali and was bowled through the gate as India lost two wickets in six balls, being rdeuced to 86 for three in 21.2 overs.
However, Rahane and Rohit steadied the innings and played the ball on merit. India did not lose any wickets in the second session as Rohit, who was aggressive initially, was rather subdued and curbed his attacking instincts.This pair was largely in control against the older ball despite both the spinners--left armer Jack Leach and offie Moeen Ali--getting bounce and turn.
Rohit reached his century, his seventh in 35th test and first against England and in Chennai, with a paddle-sweep off Moeen Ali for two runs, cheered by the Indian dressing room.Rahane on the other hand grew in confidence as he middled the ball well and played some delectable shots, when England struck back claiming three quick wickets.
As the duo put India in firm control, Rohit fell to the sweep shot holing out to Mooen Ali off Leach at Deep square leg and soon Ajinkya Rahane followed suit, bowled by Moeen Ali, trying to sweep a fuller delivery. R Ashin too departed as India were reduced to 284 for six from 248 for three.
However, Pant was in his usual self and picked runs and ensured India crossed the 300 mark. Much depends on him on the morrow for the home team to put up a total in excess of 400.
Following is the scoreboard:
India (first innings) :
Rohit sharma c Moeen Ali b Jack Leach 161
Shubman Gill lbw Stone 0
Cheteswar Pujara c Stokes b Jack Leach 21
Virat Kohli b Moeen Ali 0
Ajinkya Rahane b Moeen Ali 67
Rishab Pant (batting) 33
R Ashwin c Pope b Root 13
Axar Patel (batting) 5
Total : 300 for six in 88 overs.
Fall of wickets : 1-0, 2-85, 3-86, 4248, 5-249, 6-284.
Stuart Broad 11-2-37-0
Olly Stone 15-5-42-1
Jack Leach 26-2-78-2
Ben Stokes 2-0-16-0
Moeen Ali 26-3-112-2
Joe Root 8-2-15-1.