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India halt Bazball’s unbeaten run, secure 17th straight Test series win at home

After initial hiccups, Indian opener Shubman Gill and wicket-keeper batter Dhruv Jurel guided the side past the finishing line with an unbeaten 72-run partnership.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 08:23 IST

Ranchi: By not botching up the fourth Test against England in Ranchi, India established an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series to render the upcoming Dharamsala Test inconsequential.

If nothing else, England will want to exit these shores with the overall scoreline reading 3-2, a semblance of pride restored, but this five-wicket loss won’t go down the mental gullet as easy.

For nearly seven sessions, Ben Stokes and his band of merry men evoked the possibility of an even series before heading to Chandigarh for a week-long break, followed by the Dualadhar range.

That said, manifestation and visualisation alone isn’t enough to trump India at home. It sure does go a long way in spicing things up when least expected though.

England had set India a target of 192, but after Rohit Sharma (55) and Yashavi Jaiswal (37) went about having fun, they were now left with the unenviable task of defending 134 runs.

The Monday morning began with the openers looking as busy as the streets which paved the way to the JSCA stadium, boundaries came quick, and you could sense that England were running out of ideas.

But as the sun peeled the cracks open and the newness of the ball went into the hands of the spinners, England dominated the game for over an hour. It was a fine sight because the earlier passage of play was far too one-dimensional to elicit excitement.

This was Test cricket on the fourth day, this was fun. Not so much for India because they went from 84/0 to 120/5 in that span. They were 72 runs away, and it looked bleak. But as the sun folded into the clouds for extended periods and as the ball got softer, England couldn’t find a way past Shubman Gill (52 n.o.) and Dhruv Jurel (39 n.o.). In the end, India got to 192 for 5 in 61 overs, ending. The moment was marked by Jurel tucking the ball behind backward square leg and setting off for the double. Even before Gill and Jurel had completed the second, they slapped gloves for they knew that they had delivered when it mattered most. It was their moment. One for having reiterated his class, and another for having forced a new narrative for the spot of wicketkeeper-batter.

Two men in their early twenties put up an unbeaten 72-run stand in the face of great pressure and expectations and came out looking like champions. Even coach Rahul Dravid spent a few extra seconds holding onto the two protagonists in a hug when they returned from their conquest.

While the significance of the knocks in and of itself deserved the former Indian captain’s validation and more, the fact that it was achieved with sterling technique and unflappable defensive nous sure contributed to Dravid’s emotional release. 

Gill’s defences were rarely breached, but it did look like he chose against being a moving target. Instead, he waited for the ball to do its thing before deciding the fate of his bat. 

Jurel’s soft but sure hands were capable of manoeuvring the ball into barely-open spaces and didn’t look uncomfortable offering the dead bat either. 

It was all fairly tense by this time, and it brought out the scrapper in Stokes. He moved fields, he got a bit chatty, he coddled his bowlers, but the sixth-wicket allies didn’t respond.

They saw the ball. They played the ball. They won the game. Wonder if Ben Duckett reckons that is the influence of a cult called Bazball too?

Scoreboard:

ENGLAND (I Innings): 353 all out INDIA (I Innings): 307 all out ENGLAND (II Innings): 145 all out INDIA (II Innings O/n: 40/0):  Rohit st Foakes b Hartley  55  (81b 5x4 1x6) Jaiswal c Anderson b Root  37  (44b 5x4) Gill (not out)  52  (124b 2x6) Patidar c Pope b Bashir  0  (6b)  Jadeja c Bairstow b Bashir  4  (33b) Sarfaraz c Pope b Bashir  0  (1b) Jurel (not out)  39  (77b 2x4) TOTAL (for 5 wkts 61 overs)  192 Fall of wickets: 1-84 (Jaiswal) 2-99 (Rohit) 3-100 (Patidar) 4-120 (Jadeja) 5-120 (Sarfaraz)  Bowling: Root 7–0-26-1 Hartley 25-2-70-1 Bashir 25-4-79-3 James Anderson 3-1-12-0. 

Result: India won by five wickets. 

PoM: Dhruv Jurel. 

Series: India lead five-match series 3-1. 

Next match: Dharamsala (March 7). 

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(Published 26 February 2024, 08:23 IST)

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