Kohli plays anchor as India draw first England Test

RAJKOT: England’s batsman Haseeb Hameed bats on the fifth day of the first cricket test match between India and England in Rajkot, India, yesterday. — AP
RAJKOT: England’s batsman Haseeb Hameed bats on the fifth day of the first cricket test match between India and England in Rajkot, India, yesterday. — AP

RAJKOT: Skipper Virat Kohli hit an unbeaten 49 under pressure before India pulled off a tense draw on the final day of the first Test against England in Rajkot yesterday. The tourists had declared their second innings at 260-3 shortly after lunch, leaving the home side to chase 310 runs off a minimum 49 overs on the fifth and last day.

But the Indians were soon fighting for survival after losing wickets in a clutch on a wearing track at the Saurashtra Cricket Association ground, hosting its first Test ever. The Indians finished on 172-6 with local hero Ravindra Jadeja also remaining not out on 32. England had India in early trouble at 71-4 but Kohli steadied the ship with a 47-run partnership that he shared with Ravichandran Ashwin (32). Adil Rashid was the pick of the bowlers with 3-64 while his spin partners Moeen Ali and Zafar Ansari took one wicket apiece. Ali, who scored a century in the first innings, was named man of the match. England skipper Alastair Cook praised his bowlers for putting India’s batsmen under constant pressure.

“It was really tough five days,” said Cook. “It was a good cricket wicket. We were relentless with the ball, we didn’t let India score too quickly. Adil (Rashid) stepped up to another level.” India’s second innings began on a shaky note, with opener Gautam Gambhir falling to paceman Chris Woakes for a duck. Leg-spinner Rashid then got going, getting rid of Cheteshwar Pujara (18) who was trapped leg before wicket and Murali Vijay for 31.

Both Pujara and Vijay had hit centuries in India’s first innings total of 488 in reply to England’s 537. Ali shattered the stumps of Ajinkya Rahane (one) and Ansari sent back Ashwin, who had proved to be a thorn in England’s side the last time they toured India. Kohli held his ground amid the mayhem, hitting six fours in his crucial 98-ball knock.

“It is important to convince yourself you can negotiate what’s thrown at you,” Kohli said. “It was a challenging situation. England’s bowlers put us under a lot of pressure. We need to accept what happened.” England were bolstered by a 180-run partnership between skipper Alastair Cook (130) and debutant Haseeb Hameed-a record opening stand for England in India. It was the 30th Test century for the left-handed Cook and record fifth in India, more than any overseas batsman. Hameed, 19, belied his tender years in making 82 off 177 balls that contained one six and seven boundaries. His knock was the highest Test score by a teenager for England, beating Jack Crawford’s 74 in Cape Town in 1906. India finally tasted success when leg-spinner Amit Mishra took a sharp return catch as Hameed tried to go for a slog sweep.

Hameed, nicknamed “Baby Boycott” for his unflappable batting technique, had scored a stylish 31 during England’s first innings. The right-hander is Cook’s 10th different opening partner since the retirement of Andrew Strauss in 2012 and on this form he could be the long-term solution at the top of the order. England, who had elected to bat first, owed their huge first innings total to Joe Root, Ali and Ben Stokes-all of whom hit centuries. England would take a lot of heart from their performance since they came into the series on the back of a first-ever Test defeat to minnows Bangladesh.

Before this game, India had won 12 and drawn one of their last 13 Tests at home since England’s historic 2-1 triumph in 2012. The two teams now head to Visakhapatnam for the second Test of the marathon five-match series starting on Thursday. The other Tests will be played in Mohali, Mumbai and Chennai. — AFP

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