3rd Test: India take out Crawley, Duckett in defence of 557 after Jaiswal, Sarfaraz make merry

February 18, 2024
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India began their defence of 557 by taking out England openers Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley,

Rajkot, Feb 18 (IANS) India began their defence of 557 by taking out England openers Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley, leaving England 18/2 at tea on day four of third Test after Yashasvi Jaiswal’s phenomenal double century and Sarfaraz Khan’s unbeaten 68 propelled India to declare their second innings at 430/4 in 98 overs.

Chasing 557, England were off to a watchful start, in complete opposite of their aggressive nature. Crawley took two boundaries, but was involved in a horrible mix-up as Ben Duckett went in pursuit of a single after pushing the ball to mid-wicket. Crawley sent Duckett back, but it was too late as Mohammed Siraj fired in a throw and wicket keeper Dhurv Jurel rushed towards the stumps and collected the ball in motion to break the stumps quickly.

At the stroke of tea, Crawley was trapped lbw by Jasprit Bumrah by a sharp nip-backer, which England couldn’t overturn on review.

His wicket made it a dominating session for India, while it turned out to be a catastrophic one for England. With Ravichandran Ashwin returning after tending to a family medical emergency, things could go from bad to worse for a hapless England at Rajkot.

Earlier, Jaiswal, who had to retire hurt on 104 on day three due to back cramps, remained unbeaten on a career-best score of 214 off 236 balls. He hit 14 fours and 12 sixes, and levelled with Wasim Akram for the world record for most sixes in a Test innings. Jaiswal is also the first Test player to hit 20 sixes in a series.

With his smooth power game enthralling fans under bright sunshine at the Niranjan Shah Stadium on Sunday, Jaiswal is now the leading run-getter in the ongoing series and also the third-youngest player to smash two double-centuries in Tests, behind Vinod Kambli and Don Bradman.

On the other hand, Sarfaraz piled on the misery over England’s inexperienced spin bowlers by making 68 – his second fifty on Test debut, becoming the fourth Indian batter to do so.

Sarfaraz and Jaiswal, who come from the same school in Mumbai, produced plenty of fireworks in their entertaining 172-run partnership for the fifth wicket in just 26.2 overs, showing that the future of Indian Test cricket batting is indeed very bright.

Post lunch, Jaiswal took a single to get his 150 and then scooped James Anderson over fine leg for a boundary. If this wasn’t enough, Jaiswal treated Anderson with absolute disdain – smashing sixes over fine leg, cover, and straight down the ground to take 21 runs off the over.

Sarfaraz continued to get boundaries by picking the leg-side gaps with ease, and eventually got back-to-back fifties on debut. Jaiswal’s carnage had no stopping as he reached his 200, leaping in joy, kissing the helmet and raised his hands to soak in the applause from the crowd.

He celebrated the landmark in style by slicing and slog-sweeping Root for back-to-back sixes. Sarfaraz then crunched Rehan for two leg-side sixes and a four lofted over extra cover, before declaration arrived from captain Rohit Sharma, leaving England with a steep mountain to climb.

Brief Scores: India 445 and 430/4 dec in 98 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 214 not out, Shubman Gill 91; Tom Hartley 1-78, Rehan Ahmed 1-108) lead England 319 and 18/2 (Zak Crawley 11; Jasprit Bumrah 1-8) by 539 runs

–IANS/nr/bc

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