Ashwin, Kuldeep keep India alive


Ashwin and Kuldeep shared the five wickets to fall.

R Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav dented England in the second innings as the Ranchi Test continued to remain in the balance. After staging a strong fightback with the bat in the morning session, the two spinners took charge post lunch as England lost half their side while stretching the lead to 166 runs.

India kickstarted the second innings with spin from both ends. Ben Duckett used the sweep to perfection against both Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to fetch a boundary each right at the start but it was the off spinner who had the last laugh eventually. Duckett lunged forward against a tossed up delivery and tried to defend, only for the ball to lob into the hands of the fielder at short leg.

England were then dealt a massive blow off the very next ball when Ollie Pope failed to read Ashwin and got trapped leg-before-wicket. The review proved to be futile as the replays confirmed that the ball would have clipped the stumps.

The onus was then on Joe Root and Crawley to resurrect the side that had clearly lost the momentum right from the start on the third day. Crawley took on Ashwin and hammered him for three fours in a single over before adding one more to his tally off the next over. Rohit Sharma finally introduced pace in the form of Mohammed Siraj but it was Ashwin who made further inroads to dent the visitors. India were confident that they had gotten rid of Root and the review proved to be successful as replays confirmed that the delivery from Ashwin straightened enough to hit the leg stump.

The regular wickets forced both Crawley and Jonny Bairstow to push the scoring rate and they both managed to accumulate runs in quick fashion. While Crawley got to his fifty, his joy was short-lived as Kuldeep opened his account by castling the opener for 60. And then just minutes before the Tea break, Kuldeep caused more problems in the opposition camp by castling the skipper Ben Stokes as well.

Brief scores: England353 & 120/5 (Zak Crawley 60; R Ashwin 3/48, Kuldeep Yadav 2/10) leadIndia 307 (Dhruv Jurel 90, Yashasvi Jaiswal 73; Shoaib Bashir 5/119) by 166 runs