England in the driving seat in first test against India
Tourists 163 runs ahead at the end of day four and in a position to dictate terms
England put themselves in a dominant position in the first cricket test against India at Rajkot on Saturday, despite starting as underdogs.
At the end of day four, the tourists were 163 runs ahead of the top-ranked hosts with teenage debutant Haseeb Hameed (62 not out) and skipper Alastair Cook (46 not out) giving their side a flying start in the second innings.
Hameed, watched by his Indian-born father in the stands, batted confidently, hitting five fours and a six during his 141-minute stay at the wicket.
At stumps, England were 114-0 after making 537 in their first innings. India were bowled out for 488 in the post-lunch session with Adil Rashid (4-114) emerging as the most successful bowler.
With three sessions to go on a batsman-friendly wicket, England have now put themselves in a position to dictate terms to their formidable rivals.
“There’s still a lot of cricket to be played tomorrow [Sunday],” said Rashid.
“First we have to come out and put runs on the board and see where we are at lunchtime. If we are in a good position we might have a little bowl at India and see what happens.”
England came into this five-match series after a demoralising first-ever test defeat to minnows Bangladesh, and with a squad packed with inexperienced players.
The home side owed much to Ravichandran Ashwin, who struck a crucial half-century to restrict India’s first-innings deficit to 49 runs.
Ashwin, who came in to bat when the hosts were placed on a shaky 349 for five, made 70 off 139 balls to frustrate the visitors. Ashwin completed his seventh test half-century in the process, emphasising once again his all-round skills.
Indian batsman Murali Vijay said he expected his side to bounce back in the game. “It’s still a pretty good wicket but it has gone slower. There is a lot of assistance for spinners.”
The morning session saw India losing in-form skipper Virat Kohli to a freak dismissal when the batsman was on 40. Kohli’s back leg hit the stumps and dislodged a bail as he tried to pull away a short delivery from Rashid.
He became the second Indian skipper to be hit-wicket after Lala Amarnath in the 1948-49 series at home against the West Indies.
The Indian skipper was also out in a similar fashion in a one-day international against England in Cardiff in 2011.