BIRMINGHAM: India’s wicket-keeper batter Rishabh Pant bailed off the touring side from the horror with a magnificent knock of 146 runs after the English pacemen tested the top order on the opening day of the rescheduled fifth Test.
With the touring side struggling at 98/5, Pant and Ravindra Jadeja came to the rescue and put on an astounding 222-run partnership to see off the trouble.
At the toss of the rescheduled fifth Test between the two sides, England’s newly-appointed captain Ben Stokes put the touring side into bat first after the coin flipped in his favour.
Batting first, India were off to a dismal start as the veteran pacer James Anderson removed both their openers Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara cheaply for a combined score of 46. Gill scored 17, while Pujara could only add 13 to his name.
Following the early horror, Hanuma Vihari and the former Indian captain Virat Kohli looked to anchor the innings and batted sensibly in a bid to ease the pressure.
However, Matthew Potts’s successive strikes trumped their effort; removing both the batters in a span of exactly two overs and causing India to slip to 71/4. The right-arm pacer trapped Vihari in his legs for 20 before casting the former top-ranked batter Kohli for 11.
Anderson then struck his third to add to the touring side’s misery as he removed Shreyas Iyer for a mere 15, courtesy of an astonishing catch behind the wicket by Sam Billings.
Pant and Jadeja then stood up for their side and batted sensibly to avoid the horror as they batted for around 39 overs and added 222 runs at a rapid pace.
The pair appeared unmoved with Pant amassing his fifth Test century on just 89 deliveries and Jadeja bringing up his outstanding half-century.
However, the England captain’s unusual tactics worked for him as the part-timer Joe Root struck gold for his side in just his third over; removing the dangerous Pant, who fell just four short of his 150. In his terrific knock of 144, the left-hander faced just 111 deliveries and smashed 23 boundaries including four sixes.
Following Pant’s exit, Stokes wasted no time to draw another success for his side as he removed the tailender, Shardul Thakur, for one in the next over.
The pair of Jadeja and Mohammed Shami then batted for the remaining five overs and added a crucial 15 runs to the team’s total before the rain-hit opening day concluded with India stable at 338/7.
Jadeja, who is just 17 short of his third Test hundred and Shami (0*) will now resume the proceedings for the touring side on the second day.
For England, Anderson shone again with three wickets, while Potts bagged two. Skipper Stokes, on the other hand, made one scalp.
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