Shoaib Bashir takes four wickets as England seize control against India

By Sports Desk February 24, 2024

Shoaib Bashir took top billing on his recall with a career-best four for 84 as England seized control of the fourth Test against India in Ranchi.

After England were all out for 353 on the second morning, as Joe Root finished unbeaten on 122, Bashir was entrusted at one end following a short burst from the seamers and the decision paid rich dividends.

In his eighth first-class match and second Test, Bashir was solely responsible for India lurching from 86 for one to 161 for five, which included the wicket of the in-form Yashasvi Jaiswal.

The India opener has been a constant thorn in England’s side and top-scored with 73, but he was not the only member of his side to fall victim to variable bounce as the hosts went to stumps on 219 for seven, trailing by 134 runs.

Tom Hartley, curiously held back until the 32nd over, chipped in with two for 47 but this was Bashir’s day, as the 20-year-old vindicated his selection after being omitted for England’s defeat in Rajkot.

He came into this series with a first-class bowling average of 67 but is making sure England are not feeling the absence of senior spinner Jack Leach, who announced on Saturday he will undergo surgery on a knee injury which cut short his tour.

Bashir, who took four wickets in the second Test in Visakhapatnam, bowled 31 consecutive overs from one end and exploited helpful conditions as England, trailing 2-1 in the five-match series, put India under the pump.

Days after Ben Stokes admitted he would like to see umpire’s call abolished, England had three on-field decisions upheld as Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar and Ravichandran Ashwin reviewed their dismissals in vain.

There was no debating the breakthrough as James Anderson claimed Test wicket 697 after a flat-footed Rohit Sharma nicked through to Ben Foakes but Ollie Robinson was luckless, twice drawing the outside edge of Jaiswal either side of lunch.

The first dropped clearly short of Zak Crawley before disappearing for Jaiswal’s first four, but Foakes and England were convinced the second chance was taken cleanly and were momentarily stunned when third umpire Joel Wilson ruled against them, with Stokes cupping his hands to his mouth in shock.

Jaiswal earlier punished Anderson then Robinson for over-pitching with back-to-back fours and showed his range by shimmying down to Bashir and bludgeoning over long-on – his 23rd six of the series.

It was a rare misstep from Bashir, introduced as early as the ninth over just before lunch, as he settled into a mammoth spell, offering initial control and refusing to allow Jaiswal or Gill to dominate before ending an 82-run stand just as England looked to be running short of ideas.

Gill departed for 38 after being rapped on the front pad, beaten on the inside edge and playing down the wrong line, and a decent stride failed to save him on review as he was umpire’s call on impact.

It was just the second lbw of Bashir’s professional career and he did not have to wait long for his third as Patidar was out for 17, with a referral showing the ball would have clipped leg stump.

Ravindra Jadeja took successive sixes off fellow left-arm spinner Hartley, but these were his only scoring shots as he was deceived by extra bounce from Bashir’s top-spinner and plopped a simple bat-pad chance to Ollie Pope in the afternoon gloom.

Jaiswal launched a brief counteroffensive after tea with a late cut and inside-out drive over extra cover for fours off Bashir, who had his revenge and the wicket England prized most when one delivery stayed low and squirted off the toe-end of the opener’s bat before crashing into the stumps.

With the floodlights on, Hartley got into the act, drawing Sarfaraz Khan’s edge which was spectacularly caught by Root, diving to his left at slip, while Ashwin was lbw to a grubber and another India review went England’s way because of the on-field call.

Dhruv Jurel (30 not out) and Kuldeep Yadav (17no) put on an unbroken 42 but the momentum is firmly with the tourists on a tricky pitch.

England earlier added 49 to their overnight score, largely thanks to Robinson, who registered his maiden Test fifty and took his stand with Root to 102 before a reverse sweep brushed his glove en route to Jurel.

Robinson’s departure for 58 was the start of England losing their last three wickets for six runs in 17 balls, with Root left stranded having added just 16 to his day one total.

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