DateLine: 9th September 2018
By Andy Jalil at the Oval
India fight back but England have advantage in fifth Test
England began their second innings with a first innings lead of 40, considerably less than what seemed likely when India were struggling on 160 for six shortly before close of play on the second day. England made early bowling changes, using four bowlers within the first eight overs. Left-arm spinner Ravi Jadeja came on for the eighth over but it was Mohammad Shami who struck first.
Keaton Jennings, who continues to struggle for form, was the first to depart. Having played and missed over and over again against Shami, decided not to play a shot at a ball that he completely misjudged. The ball came into the tall left-hander from outside off stump and crashed into it with him positioned at the crease with his bat held high. Jennings has now had 18 consecutive innings – most by an opening batsman in England – without scoring a 50.
But England’s cupboard is so bare for top-order batsmen that it is very likely that he will be selected for the winter tour squad. With Cook playing his last Test innings, England are desperately short of batsmen for the top three places. It’s a major task for the selectors to perform.
Moeen Ali, the make-shift No. 3 for England joined Cook and although he hit a half century in the first innings, he still does not seem the ideal batsman for that position. He was again somewhat uncomfortable and should have been dismissed for 14 but KL Rahul, who has had a safe pair of hands in this series, dropped him at second slip off Ishant Sharma. Mooen added a further six runs when a beautiful ball from Jadeja bowled him.
The ball turned into him from the rough, caused by footmarks, and went between his bat and pad as he attempted a drive. The second wicket had fallen on 62 in the 28th over leaving Cook, who batted so well in the first innings, and Joe Root to consolidate the innings.
Earlier, resuming their first innings on 174 for six and trailing by 158, India made steady progress with Hanuma Vihari and Ravi Jadeja showing solid defensive batting. They took no chances and settled for singles and twos rather than going for big strokes. But if the ball was there to be hit they were quick to do so as Vihari showed when he hit two fours in the 62nd over, off Stuart Broad. The first was a lovely drive to cover and then he played a half volley to third man, not quite timing the ball this time.
He then took his score to 45 with a beautiful square drive past point for four and brought up his maiden Test half century on his Test debut from 104 balls which included six fours and a six. He added another four to his score before he was dismissed ten minutes before lunch. Moeen Ali was brought back for another spell and in his first over he had Vihari give a thin edge for a catch behind just ten minutes before lunch which was taken with India on 240 for seven.
Within ten minutes into the second session, England claimed the eighth wicket with Ishant Sharma dismissed in similar fashion as Vihari. He edged his forward prod to a ball from Moeen which held its line for Jonny Bairstow to take the catch. Jadeja completed his ninth Test half century from 130 balls, with a four off Moeen. His next scoring shot was another four from a long hop by Adil Rashid. With him on 56, Mohammad Shami, at the other end, was held at long-on, mistiming his hit at a googly from Rashid.
India’s last wicket stand added 32 runs of which Jasprit Bumrah had none. Jadeja went on a hitting spree, reaching 70 with a straight hit six off James Anderson. But he wasn’t to get his maiden Test century as on 86 – 50 of which had come from boundaries – from 156 balls, his partner Bumrah was run out. Jadeja had called him for a risky single off the last ball of an over from Moeen, in order to keep the strike and Bairsow had the bails off.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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