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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 27 February 2021

Rohit Sharma century leads India's charge in Chennai Test against England

Hosts reach 300-6 on dry Chepauk surface with Ajinkya Rahane scoring crucial fifty

Opener Rohit Sharma hit a superb 161 to as India battled their way to 300-6 on the opening day of the second Test against England at Chennai's MA Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.

At 86-3, India looked to have thrown away any chance of batting themselves into a strong position on a pitch that showed substantial wear and tear on the first day itself.

But Rohit's 162-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane dragged the hosts back into the contest, before England dismissed both in the final session.

Rishabh Pant was batting on 33 at stumps, with debutant Axar Patel on five at the other end.

Earlier, Olly Stone had dismissed opener Shubman Gill for a duck with his third delivery after India captain Virat Kohli had elected to bat.

Rohit added 85 runs with Cheteshwar Pujara to steady the innings, but spinners helped England reclaim control with two quick wickets before the lunch break.

Pujara made 21 before edging Jack Leach to slip, and in the next over Moeen Ali marked his Test recall by spinning one through Kohli's defence to clean bowl the India captain for a duck.

Kohli initially stood frozen in disbelief, his dismissal illustrating just how spin-friendly the track is.

After the opening Test was played behind closed doors, 15,000 fans were allowed back in the stadium, and Rohit gave them plenty to cheer about.

The opener pulled Ben Stokes for a six and hit Moeen over the long-off ropes en route to scoring 100 of India's first 147 runs.

Rohit and Rahane denied England a wicket in the second session, but both then fell to spinners after tea.

Rohit, who smashed 18 fours in his knock, slog-swept a Leach delivery to Moeen, who also bowled Rahane for 67.

However, it could have been a different story. Rahane should have been given out for 66 when the ball hit pad and glove on its way to short-leg, but the decision was rejected on-field then inexplicably turned down on DRS.

Television umpire Anil Chaudhary did not even look at the relevant piece of footage, despite captain Joe Root appearing to make a very specific request.

That potential flashpoint lost some of its spice when the expensive Moeen produced another big-spinning beauty to bowl Rahane in the very next over, with England quietly handed back their lost review.

After stumps, Rahane said the match went along expected line on a pitch that he expected to help spinners from the first day.

"I thought it was proper Indian conditions and we knew it would turn from day one. One more partnership from Rishabh and Axar and we are in the game. When they were adjusting the pace and bowling quicker through the air, it was difficult," Rahane said.

Beaten by 227 runs in the first match of the four-Test series, India dropped Washington Sundar and Shahbaz Nadeem, while resting Jasprit Bumrah for the match.

All-rounder Patel made his Test debut while left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav and quick Mohammed Siraj were recalled.

Published: February 13, 2021 04:09 PM

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