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India v England: Sharma and Jadeja overcome early wobbles to put hosts on top

Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja hit centuries to dig India out of an early hole and into a strong position in the third Test against England in Rajkot.

The pair came together with the hosts wobbling at 33 for three – and with Mark Wood charging in – but batted beautifully in a fourth-wicket stand of 204 that changed the complexion of the opening day.

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India closed on 326 for five with Jadeja still at the crease but no doubt ruing the late mix-up that saw his desperation to get to three figures result in the run-out of impressive debutant Sarfaraz Khan (62).

England’s decision to sacrifice a spinner and recall Wood alongside fellow seamer James Anderson looked a masterstroke early on as the Durham man made early gains.

Yashasvi Jaiswal, who hit a brilliant 209 in the last Test in Visakhapatnam, failed to cope with Wood’s extra pace and bounce, nicking off to Joe Root at slip for 10. 

Wood then snared Shubman Gill for a nine-ball duck before spinner Tom Hartley got one to jump off a length to dismiss Rajat Patidar (five).

India needed a rebuild and it came in the form of captain Sharma and hometown hero Jadeja, back in the side following a hamstring injury.

The former had moments of fortune though, surviving a close lbw shout to Anderson before Root spilled a difficult chance in the slips after the batter had attempted to slog Hartley.

If the morning session was England’s, the afternoon was all about India. The pitch had dried under the midday sun and Sharma and Jadeja made hay, playing with an element of caution but also willing to put away the bad balls as they put on 92 without further loss.

Sharma completed his 11th Test ton in the first over after tea – bringing an end to a barren run.

England captain Ben Stokes, making his 100th Test match appearance, turned back to Wood and his short-ball barrage finally worked when Sharma, on 131, miscued to mid-wicket where Stokes himself gleefully snapped up a simple opportunity.

The tourists would have been eyeing further inroads with Sarfaraz and Dhruv Jurel the next two expected batters and both making their Test bows.

Sarfaraz had different ideas, producing a brilliant innings full of attacking intent to swing the momentum back India’s way. While he went on the front foot, Jadeja retreated into his shell in a bid to nudge his way to a century.

Jadeja also survived a let-off as England’s miserable run of DRS decisions continued, Stokes not opting to review a not-out call that would have seen Hartley claim his wicket leg before.

Sarfaraz cruised to his 50 off 48 balls – the second-quickest on debut for India – and seemed destined for more, only to be undone by a moment of madness from his partner.

The pair had already avoided one run out scare but there was to be no reprieve second time round when Jadeja called his young partner through for a quick single only to change his mind and Wood did the rest with a brilliant run out.

Sharma looked on unimpressed, throwing his cap to the ground, while he wasn’t seen to applaud when Jadeja did bring up three figures shortly afterwards.

Late mis-judgement aside, it was a day of triumph for Jadeja 

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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