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PIX: India struggling despite Pujara, Rahane fightback

Last updated on: August 15, 2021 23:22 IST
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Images from Day 4 in the second Test between England and India, at Lord's, on Sunday.

India's Ajinkya Rahane raises his bat after posting a half century, as Cheteshwar Pujara applauds, during Day 4 in the second Test against England, at Lord's Cricket Ground, on Sunday.

IMAGE: India's Ajinkya Rahane raises his bat after posting a half century, as Cheteshwar Pujara applauds, during Day 4 in the second Test against England, at Lord's Cricket Ground, on Sunday. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane struck much-needed form to rescue India from a precarious position in the second Test against England, at Lord’s, on Sunday.

 

With their in-form openers and skipper Virat Kohli back in the hut at 55 for 3, and India effectively ahead by only 28 runs, the visitors stared at a batting collapse considering the prolonged struggles of the middle-order and their long tail.

However, Pujara (45 off 206) and Rahane (61 off 146) thrived under tremendous pressure and batted for almost 50 overs for a 100-run stand to enable the tourists take the game to Day 5.

When bad light forced early stumps on Day 4, India were 181 for 6, leading England by 154 runs.

England pacer Mark Wood celebrates with teammates after dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara.

IMAGE: England pacer Mark Wood celebrates with teammates after dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Rishabh Pant (14 batting off 29) will need some support from the long Indian tail to add some valuable runs on the fifth morning.

With the pitch already playing a few tricks, England will have to bat extremely well to secure victory.

Both Pujara and Rahane, who were desperately searching for runs, showed the grit and determination that they are known for to get back among the runs. They might not have scored big hundreds but the amount of balls they consumed kept the visitors in the game.

Moeen Ali celebrates dismissing Ravindra Jadeja.

IMAGE: Moeen Ali celebrates dismissing Ravindra Jadeja. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Rahane got a life on 31 when he was dropped by Jonny Bairstow off Moeen Ali. Both struggled early on but got better as their innings progressed. Pujara, who took 35 balls to get off the mark, played his trademark cut shot off James Anderson while Rahane was good with his pull shot off the pacers and sweep against Ali.

Their fall in quick succession tilted the game back in England's favour. Pujara got an unplayable ball from Mark Wood that rose sharply from back of length while Rahane edged one back to the wicketkeeper off Ali.

Three overs later, Ali bowled a beauty that turned just enough to beat Ravindra Jadeja's bat and hit the off-stump.

Morning session:

England pacer Mark Wood celebrates after dismissing India opener K L Rahul during Day 4 of the second Test, at Lord's Cricket Ground, on Sunday.

IMAGE: England pacer Mark Wood celebrates after dismissing India opener K L Rahul in the morning session on Day 4. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Earlier, Mark Wood struck twice in two overs and Sam Curran claimed the prized scalp of India captain Virat Kohli to put England in the box seat.

India lost both their in-form openers to Wood by the time they erased their 27-run deficit and were reeling at 56-3 at lunch, with a massive rebuilding job ahead of them.

Cheteshwar Pujara was batting on 3 at the break, having needed 35 balls to get off the mark.

Ajinkya Rahane was on 1 and there possibly cannot be a better time for the India vice-captain to rediscover his form.

Rohit Sharma reacts as Mark Wood celebrates with his England teammates after picking his second wicket in the morning session of Day 4.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma reacts as Mark Wood celebrates with his England teammates after picking his second wicket in the morning session on Day 4. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Wood jolted India early with clever change of length to dismiss KL Rahul for 5.

Rahul, who scored 84, 26 and 129 in his last three innings, edged the express delivery and was caught behind.

Wood's next over turned out to be an eventful one that ended with Rohit Sharma being dismissed for 21.

Sam Curran celebrates with teammates after dismissing Virat Kohli.

IMAGE: Sam Curran is congratulated by his England teammates after dismissing Virat Kohli. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Rohit dragged a chest-high ball from outside the off-stump and pulled it for an audacious six, but Wood had the last laugh in this duel.

The last ball of that over was a similar one and this time Rohit could not middle the ball and Moeen Ali took a tumbling catch at deep square leg.

His team needed Kohli to lead by example, just like his opposite number Joe Root, whose unbeaten 180 was the bedrock of England's first innings total of 391.

India’s captain played a couple of gorgeous drives but Curran angled one away and Kohli could only guide it to Jos Buttler behind the stumps and depart for 20 with his team in disarray.

Post-Lunch session

India's Cheteshwar Pujara scores his first boundary on Day 4 of the second Test against England, at Lord's Cricket Ground, on Sunday.

IMAGE: Cheteshwar Pujara scores his first boundary off his 118th delivery. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane put up dogged resistance against a probing England attack to take India to 105 for 3 at tea.

The two senior batsmen, who have been out form for a while alongside skipper Virat Kohli, shared a valuable stand for the fourth-wicket to steady the innings after India lost their top three batsmen for 56 runs by lunch.

At the tea break, India were 78 runs ahead.

England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler watches as Ajinkya Rahane goes on the backfoot to send the ball to the boundary.

IMAGE: England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler watches as Ajinkya Rahane goes on the backfoot to send the ball to the boundary. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Both Pujara (29 off 148) and Rahane (24 off 74) batted for survival for a major part of the second session before scoring some welcome runs. Only 49 runs came off the 28 overs bowled in the session but, most importantly, India did not lose a wicket.

Rahane hit a couple of boundaries, which included a pull shot off Ollie Robinson, while there was a loud cheer from the crowd when Pujara played his 100th ball with only 12 runs to his name.

Cheteshwar Pujara, right, and Ajinkya Rahane steal a single.

IMAGE: Cheteshwar Pujara, right, and Ajinkya Rahane steal a single. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

The cheer got louder when he got his first boundary, a flick off Mark Wood, off his 118th delivery.

Like he had done successfully with Rohit Sharma in the opening session, Wood tried to bounce out Pujara with a barrage of short balls, but the Saurashtra strongman was up for the challenge.

Spinner Moeen Ali had a lot of bowling to do in the session what with the odd ball turning in sharply or keeping low on a deteriorating pitch.

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