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Draw looks imminent

Draw looks imminent
Highlights

After India were all out for 488 in their first innings, thereby conceding a first innings lead of 49 runs, England openers Alastair Cook (46 batting) and teenager Haseeb Hameed (62 not out) added 114 runs in 37 overs to take the lead to 163 runs.

Rajkot: The Indian spin troika's inability to get breakthroughs on a good batting track was exposed once again as the first cricket Test against England meandered towards a draw after a solid century stand by the visiting team's openers here on the penultimate day.

After India were all out for 488 in their first innings, thereby conceding a first innings lead of 49 runs, England openers Alastair Cook (46 batting) and teenager Haseeb Hameed (62 not out) added 114 runs in 37 overs to take the lead to 163 runs.

With the pitch showing just the usual signs of wear and tear, a draw looks the most obvious result, unless England make a challenging declaration and press for a victory on the last day.

In the morning, India resumed at the overnight 319 for four and lost wickets steadily barring a 64-run seventh wicket stand between Ravichandran Ashwin, who made a steady 70 with seven fours off 139 balls and in 200 minutes, and wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha (35).

India lost the wickets of captain Virat Kohli, who struck five fours in 95 balls, and Ajinkya Rahane (13) in the pre-lunch session and the rest in the session before tea.

The last-wicket stand between Ashwin, who was 49 when the ninth wicket fell, and Mohammed Shami kept England on the field longer than they may have expected and helped India cut the lead to below 50.

All the Indian wickets that fell on Saturday were claimed by the English spin trio of leggie Adil Rashid (4/114), off-spinner Moeen Ali (2/85) and left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari (2/77).

Kohli became the first Indian skipper in over 65 years to be dismissed hit-wicket while Rahane was dismissed cheaply before Ashwin and Saha steadied the rocking boat with a half century stand. He tried to pull off the back-foot and the ball hit the top of the middle stump.

Kohli thus became the second India captain to get out hit wicket after Lala Amarnath in 1948-49 at the Chepauk in Chennai against Trevor Goddard's West Indies.

It was also the 22nd time that an Indian batsman was out in this freak manner, Lala's son Mohinder heading the list having been out thrice in this fashion, and the first time since VVS Laxman got out hit wicket in 2002 against the West Indies at St. John's, Antigua.

Ashwin, who compiled his seventh half century in his 40th Test and third against the tourists, was the last to depart when he was caught in the deep off Moeen Ali after having added 29 runs for the last wicket with Shami who was not out 8 after a stay of half an hour.

England commenced their second innings and appeared in no trouble against either pace or spin. The Indian spinners will certainly come in for some flak as they bowled 26 out of 37 overs.

Debutant opener Hameed batted confidently in the company of his captain Cook and the 50 came up quickly in the 15th over. Only once did the 19-year-old batsman look in trouble, just before he reached his maiden half century.

He offered no stroke when he went back to Ashwin and was rapped on pads. The appeal was rejected and the DRS call by the Indians showed the ball was missing the off stump and he survived. He was out for 31 to Ashwin, trapped leg before, in the first innings.

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