Cricket-Bumrah and Ashwin bowl India to series-levelling victory

Cricket – Second Test – India v England – Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam, India – February 5, 2024 India’s Rohit Sharma celebrates with Srikar Bharat and Sarfaraz Khan after taking the catch to dismiss England’s Ollie Pope, off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

VISAKHAPATNAM–Jasprit Bumrah’s craft and Ravichandran Ashwin’s guile secured India’s series-levelling victory by 106 runs in the pulsating second test against England on Monday.

Under Ben Stokes, England have made it a habit of chasing big fourth-innings targets but scoring 399 against India’s formidable spin attack in conditions that suit their craft was always going to be an onerous task.

Zak Crawley smashed a belligerent 73, while Ben Foakes and Tom Hartley produced defiant 36s down the order but England were all out for 292.

“Very, very proud of such a young squad in terms of the test matches that they’ve played,” India captain Rohit Sharma said.

“It’s important from our side to give them confidence, and this win, obviously, will give them a lot of confidence, and (tell them) just to go out there and play freely.”

England were cruising at 95-1 in their pursuit of a big total before Axar Patel removed nightwatchman Rehan Ahmed to trigger a top order collapse.

Ashwin (3-72) then rattled England by dismissing Ollie Pope and Joe Root in his successive overs.

Pope’s edge stuck in Rohit Sharma’s left hand at slip, while Root’s casual charge down the track resulted in a top-edge that descended on Patel at backward point.

Cricket – Second Test – India v England – Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam, India – February 5, 2024 England’s Joe Root in action REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

An unfazed Crawley batted with the kind of aggression that has become the hallmark of the side under Stokes.

India took a gamble when Kuldeep Yadav’s lbw appeal against Crawley was turned down and challenged it, and were ecstatic after the decision was reversed.

Jonny Bairstow could not convert his start and England were effectively out of the game after Shreyas Iyer ran out Stokes.

Foakes and Hartley refused to throw in the towel, though, and the mounting frustration prompted Rohit to turn to Bumrah (3-46), his pace spearhead.

Bumrah, whose match haul of nine wickets fetched him player-of-the-match award, did not let his captain down.

He foxed Foakes with a slower ball to elicit a return catch and flattened Hartley’s off-stump to seal India’s victory in the second session on day four.

India would be mighty relieved to have levelled the series despite missing three key players.

Virat Kohli skipped the first two tests for personal reason, while both batters KL Rahul and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja missed the match with injuries sustained in the series opener in Hyderabad.

England also missed spin spearhead Jack Leach through injury, while part-time spinner Joe Root could bowl only two overs in the second innings after hurting his right little finger on Sunday.

England would fly to Abu Dhabi for a short break before returning to India for the third test in Rajkot beginning on Feb. 15.

“We have had two great tests out here,” Stokes said.

“Two close games does take it out of you emotionally so we will have some time with families and partners.

“We will recharge the batteries, get away for four or five days, and then prepare for Rajkot.”



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