England keep India in check despite Shubman Gill ton in second Test

Visitors needs 332 more for stunning victory with nine wickets in hand in Visakhapatnam

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England's bowlers once again rose to the challenge to keep the visitors in the hunt as they restricted India to 255 in the second innings on Sunday, setting up a tantalising chase in the second Test in Visakhapatnam.

Shubman Gill battled his way back into form after a string of low scores, scoring a crucial 104 that was the backbone of India's below par second innings score.

Just as Yashasvi Jaiswal carried the innings with a double century in the first innings, Gill kept their batting together on Sunday, underscoring just how out of form the home team's batting unit is as a collective, especially in the absence of Virat Kohli.

For England, left-arm spinner Tom Hartley was once again the main man, bowling tirelessly for 27 overs, finishing with 4-77.

Veteran seamer James Anderson was frugal as ever, snaring two wickets from his 10 overs for just 29 runs. India tried to apply pressure on the inexperienced England spin attack, with Joe Root picking up a finger injury, but all they managed to do was find innovative ways to get out while trying to attack.

Gill hit his third Test ton and first in his 12 innings since March to pull India out of trouble at 122-4 with two key stands including 89 runs with Axar Patel.

Gill reached his ton with a single off debutant spinner Shoaib Bashir.

He soon departed, however, when Bashir got him caught behind, a dismissal that was turned down by the umpire but replays showed the ball had grazed the batsman's glove.

Gill had two lucky escapes on four, both close lbw calls and one successfully reviewed, but then batted fluently, regaining some much- needed confidence having himself requested a move to number three in the batting order.

England, however, did not let the innings drift away.

In the first session, Shreyas Iyer made 29 and was out after a moment of magic by captain Ben Stokes. Iyer attempted a big hit off Hartley but Stokes sprinted back from mid-off and dived at full stretch to pull off a superb catch.

Anderson, in an excellent spell of fast bowling in the morning, rattled Rohit Sharma's stumps with a delivery that pitched and moved away.

The veteran then got the left-handed Yashasvi Jaiswal caught at first slip, for his 695th Test wicket.

Gill, however, kept the scoring up at one end and found an able ally in left-arm spinner Patel. Hartley then sent back Patel lbw for 45 to leave India six down by tea.

Hartley took four wickets in all before Ahmed finally got Ravichandran Ashwin out for 29 to wrap up the innings for 255 with his third strike; a stunning collapse for India from 211-4.

That gave England a target of 399 for what could be another astonishing win. The highest fourth-innings target successfully chased against India was England's 378 at Edgbaston in 2022, and the biggest in India was when the hosts got 387 against England in 2008.

The visitors made a brilliant start to the chase in the final session, racing to 67-1 in 14 overs. They will need 332 with nine wickets in hand on Monday.

With the wicket relatively flat, India's bowlers will have their work cut out against an England batting line-up that will not take a step back.

"I'm definitely very pleased but I think I left a bit out there, to be honest," Gill said.

"We were in a good position and I think we could have scored a few more runs ... but, overall, I think it was a pretty good effort.

"It's still a pretty decent wicket to bat on. The odd ball is turning and keeping low – and if we get the ball in the right areas, we will get the job done tomorrow."

Updated: February 04, 2024, 1:06 PM