Rohit leads India recovery as England run into trouble

By Sports Desk February 13, 2021

Rohit Sharma hit a brilliant 161 to help India overcome a difficult start to the second Test against England, the hosts eventually ending the opening day on 300-6 in Chennai. 

Opener Rohit combined with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (67) to put on a crucial 162-run partnership for the fourth wicket on a pitch offering considerable help for the spinners from the outset.  

Having so impressively won the opener in the four-match series at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, England seized early control at the same venue when reducing their opponents to 86-3.  

Moeen Ali marked his recall to the XI with the prized wicket of Virat Kohli – who was bowled for a duck – as a much-changed attack prospered in the first session after losing the toss. 

Olly Stone struck with just his third delivery, Shubman Gill paying for his decision not to offer a stroke as he was dismissed lbw, stunning those India fans inside the ground as part of a reduced crowd allowed to attend amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Cheteshwar Pujara made 21 before steering Jack Leach (2-78) to Ben Stokes at slip, while Kohli was left stunned in the next over when Moeen turned one prodigiously through between bat and pad to bowl the India skipper before he had a run to his name.

However, the stand between Rohit and Rahane put the tourists on the back foot. Even when the former eventually fell, sweeping Leach out to Moeen in the deep, India were already on course for a useful first-innings total, considering the conditions.  

Rahane departed soon after, bowled by Moeen when trying an ambitious sweep shot of his own, while England captain Joe Root claimed the wicket of Ravichandran Ashwin (13). 

Still, Rishabh Pant carried India to 300 in the final over and will resume on day two on 33 not out. He will have Axar Patel for company, the Test debutant reaching the close unbeaten on five.

Mixed fortunes for Moeen 

England made the tough call to drop Dom Bess despite the off-spinner taking 17 Test wickets in 2021 at an average of 22.20. Root explained the decision was down to a lack of consistency, having only bowled eight overs in India's second innings in the previous game. 

His replacement, however, was by no means more economical. Moeen reached an unwanted century as he finished Saturday's play with figures of 2-112 from his 26 overs, though he did of course dismiss Kohli.

Home comforts for Rohit

Rohit passed 150 for the fourth time in Test cricket, while all of his centuries in the format have come on home soil. This, however, was his first at Chennai.

On a slow, worn surface, the right-hander went along at an impressive scoring rate of 69.70 runs per 100 deliveries, hitting 18 fours and a pair of sixes. In the end, England needed help from the batsman to see the back of him.

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