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5th Test PIX: Rohit, Gill hit tons as India build huge lead

Last updated on: March 08, 2024 17:21 IST
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Images from Day 2 of the fifth and final Test match between India and England at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala on Friday.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill hit centuries to power India to a huge lead on Day 2 of the Dharamsala Test. Photograph: BCCI

Skipper Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill's splendid hundreds gave India complete control of the fifth Test against England on Day 2 of the fifth and final Test against England in Dharamsala on Friday.

India were sitting pretty on 473/8 in 120 overs at stumps on the second day for an overall lead of 255 runs. Kuldeep Yadav was unbeaten on 27 at close with Jasprit Bumrah on 19 as the duo put on an unbroken stand of 45 to frustrate England late on Day 2.

India lost as many as five wickets for 97 runs in the final session after Rohit (103 off 162 balls) and Gill (110 off 150 balls) shared a stroke-filled 171-run partnership off 244 balls for the second wicket.

IMAGE: Shoaib Bashir celebrates the wicket of Sarfaraz Khan. Photograph: BCCI

Debutant Devdutt Padikkal (65 off 103) showed a lot of class in his debut innings, while Sarfaraz Khan continued his good start to Test cricket with an aggressive.

Off-spinner Shoaib Bashir (4/170 in 44 overs), who was taken to the cleaners by the Indian openers, bounced back strongly to take three wickets in the final session. Left-arm spinner Tom Hartley (2/126 in 39) too was impressive towards the end of the day while Mark Wood (0/89 in 15) was the most expensive.

IMAGE: Tom Hartley celebrates after taking the wicket of Ravindra Jadeja. Photograph: BCCI

India looked set to bat England out of the game as they went into the tea break on 376/3 at tea, before the combination of good bowling and reckless batting kept the visitors alive in the match.

India scored at close to 4.5 runs per over until slowing down significantly in the final session.

Kuldeep Yadav spun the ball a lot more than fellow Indian spinners on day one but after a tough time in the first two sessions on day two, Bashir and Co. got a lot out of the surface.

IMAGE: Debutant Devdutt Padikkal bats during Day 2. Photograph: BCCI

Sarfaraz tried to cut a harmless ball off Bashir and ended up giving an easy catch to Joe Root at first slip. Padikkal got a gem from the England off-spinner that spun away from middle stump to hit the top of the off-stump. Like Sarfaraz, Dhruv Jurel (15) too went for an avoidable shot and perished.

After lunch, England captain Ben Stokes bowled Rohit Sharma off his first ball in nine months to give the visitors something to cheer about.

But Sarfaraz and Padikkal then got together and ensured runs kept flowing for the home team.

IMAGE: Sarfaraz Khan plays the sweep shot. Photograph: BCCI

Stokes, who had been bowling only in the nets thus far, finally decided to roll his arm over in a match situation after nothing went England's way in the morning session. He had stopped bowling owing to a knee injury and had undergone surgery last year.

Bowling the second over of the afternoon session, Stokes produced a peach that seamed away a touch from good length to dislodge Rohit's off-stump.

IMAGE: Shubman Gill is bowled by James Anderson during Day 2 of the fifth and final Test in Dharamsala on Friday. Photograph: BCCI

In the next over, James Anderson bowled Gill with a beauty that seamed back in, leaving India at 279 for three.

In his debut game, Padikkal's off-side play stood out as he regaled the crowd with exquisite back-foot punches and cover drives.

IMAGE: Ben Stokes celebrates with team-mates after taking the wicket of Rohit Sharma. Photograph: BCCI

Sarfaraz, on the other hand, started slowly before changing gears both against  pace and spin. What attracted most attention was his attacking play against the express pace of Mark Wood.

His game against fast bowlers has been questioned but Sarfaraz was razor sharp on Friday as he dispatched Wood for a lofted back-drive before pulling him for a six over over backward square leg. He also played a ramp shot off Wood using the extra pace and bounce that he generated.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma celebrates his century. Photograph: BCCI

Earlier, Rohit and Gill's superb strokeplay saw India pile on the runs in the morning session.

India looked in complete control on 264/1 in 60 overs at lunch on Day 2 for a lead of 46 runs after England had posted 218 in their first innings on the opening day.

Rohit and Gill walked out in the middle in bright sunshine and milked the conditions to take India well past England's first innings total of 218 after resuming the innings at 135/1.

IMAGE: A jubilant Shubman Gill after completing his century. Photograph: BCCI

England tried everything to contain them, whether it was employing the leg-slip for Rohit when Shoaib Bashir was in operation or Mark Wood using the odd short ball against the opening duo with as many as six fielders on the leg side.

However, nothing worked for the visitors despite the Barmy Army making a lot more noise than the Indian fans at the picturesque HPCA stadium. Rohit and Gill collected 129 runs from 30 overs in the two hours of play in the morning session.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill during their second wicket partnership. Photograph: BCCI

Rohit and Gill gave themselves an over each after start of play before going for their strokes.

Off-spinner Bashir opened the bowling alongside veteran pacer James Anderson and was put under immense pressure by Rohit, who deposited him for a straight six and a four in his second over to set the tone.

Gill, who played some audacious strokes on the opening day, carried on in the same vein as he took two steps forward against the great Anderson for a straight six, which was followed by a square cut.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma on the attack. Photograph: BCCI

The only real chance that England had in the session went begging when Zak Crawley could not latch on to a sharp catch offered by Rohit at leg-slip off Bashir.

Mark Wood replaced Anderson and Gill put him under the pump with a square cut and a beautiful cover drive. Sixty runs in 15 overs in the first hour of play summed up India's intent.

Wood resorted to the short ball tactic against the well-set duo but that did not work either. Stokes first put five fielders on the leg side before adding another one.

IMAGE: Shubman Gill hits a six. Photograph: BCCI

The mid-off was left vacant, prompting Rohit to make room and slap Wood in the region for a boundary.

Bashir returned for his second spell but Gill ensured he did not settle down by smashing for a maximum over the bowler's head. The off-spinner then decided to go round the wicket but to no avail.

Rohit completed his 12th Test hundred and second of the series by flicking Tom Hartley for a single.

Two ball later, Gill followed him into three digits by slog-sweeping Bashir for a four. After completing his second ton of the series, Gill took his helmet off and bowed to the spectators in the stands including his proud father.

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