IND vs ENG 1st Test: Sublime KL Rahul steps up, Ravindra Jadeja extends agony | Crickit
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India vs England 1st Test: Sublime KL Rahul steps up, Ravindra Jadeja extends agony

By, Hyderabad
Jan 27, 2024 08:37 AM IST

Thanks to their efforts, India ended Day 2 of the Hyderabad Test against England with a healthy lead of 175 runs

The mark of good batters is how they adapt to various conditions. Depending on the surface, they adjust their backlift, know when to change their stance, make use of the crease, which balls to play shots against and which to leave alone. The difference between playing at Centurion to the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad can be as different as chalk and cheese. The track in South Africa offers good bounce and carry, and at the Uppal stadium, the low and slow track offers a very difference challenge.

India’s Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul during Day 2 of 1st Test match against England, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday(ANI )
India’s Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul during Day 2 of 1st Test match against England, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday(ANI )

In his last three Tests, KL Rahul has looked equally at home on both surfaces. A month ago at SuperSport Park against South Africa, he had scored a superb 101, rated as one of the best innings by an Indian overseas. On Friday, he produced an equally classy knock in his backyard to once again show why the Indian team management considers him indispensable, goes out of the way to accommodate him in the playing XI. When in form, he is world class.

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“The hundred in South Africa has given me some confidence. The aim was to stay positive when I went out to bat. Very different to that of South Africa (on the pitch) — a bit of turn, it became slower and slower as the ball went old. It was a challenge, I had to wait for my opportunity to play shots,” Rahul said during his post-match interview.

Helped by the stylish batter’s sublime 86 (123 balls), and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja’s solid unbeaten 81, India scored 302 runs in the day to be 421/7 at stumps. With the lead of 175 runs already, and Jadeja and Axar Patel firmly in control during a partnership of 63*, England have a mountain to climb.

STEPPING UP AT NO 4

Going into the game, the big question for India was about finding someone who will fill the hole left by Virat Kohli’s absence at the pivotal No.4 position and how well did Rahul step up!

Having played most of his cricket as an opening batter, he has looked a natural fit in the middle order. His hundred in South Africa came at No.5, this innings he batted at No.4. “(Yes) Enjoying batting in the middle-order. I did enjoy batting in the top-order for a long time, but here you get some time to put your feet up, watch as to how the ball is doing, what the bowlers are doing and it gives time to plan your innings,” Rahul said.

When the No.4 batter came in, it was about maintaining the momentum for the platform was already set by the top order. Rahul did it superbly. He cashed in on an early reprieve by keeper Ben Foakes off Joe Root (signalled as bye by the umpire). Thereafter, he hardly put a foot wrong. His decisive footwork saw him use the depth of the crease, and he looked to play late and straight.

He first played himself in while opening up the gaps with deft play to keep moving the scoreboard. When he switched gears, the well-timed strokes were a treat for the eyes. Half an hour into the second session, he had helped India gain the lead with two sixes off leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, first off an overpitched ball and second off a long hop to take the total to 250/4 while moving to 79.

EARLY BREAKTHROUGH

Earlier, England had made the perfect start to the day when part-time off-spinner Root removed Yashasvi Jaiswal caught and bowled for 80 in the first over of the day. Tom Hartley also bowled with more control than he did on Day 1 and got his first Test wicket when Shubman Gill chipped straight to Ben Duckett at midwicket for 23 to leave India 159/3.

But, in a partnership of 64 with Shreyas Iyer, Rahul consolidated. An impressive aspect of his play was the role he adopted in his partnership with Iyer, helping him through a spell from Mark Wood.

The pacer was brought in by captain Ben Stokes mainly to bounce out Iyer but Wood got to bowl just nine balls at Iyer in his four-over spell.

When leg-spinner Rehan had Iyer caught at deep midwicket immediately after lunch, Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja shut the door on England with a brisk 65-run stand to take the lead.

A hundred was for there for the taking for the Bengaluru batter but he hit a long hop straight to the deep midwicket fielder, becoming the fifth Indian batter in the innings to be dismissed while going for a big shot. For all his quality, Rahul still has only one century at home out of eight overall.

There’s nothing more frustrating for a bowling unit than the lower-order getting runs. After the departure of Rahul, Jadeja didn’t allow England to things up quickly. Jadeja built a partnership of 68 runs with KS Bharat (41 runs) and then Axar Patel, a fine batter himself, joined the fun.

To cap a perfect day, Axar finished the proceedings with two fours and a six from the last three balls bowled by Hartley

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