Mark Wood takes two wickets on England recall before India pair steady ship

By Sports Desk February 15, 2024

Mark Wood took a couple of wickets on his recall but England were blunted by India’s steady hands of Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja on the opening day of the third Test in Rajkot.

Left out at Visakhapatnam, Wood returned as England picked two seamers for the first time in the series and he snared Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill after Ben Stokes had lost the toss on his 100th Test.

Tom Hartley dismissed Rajat Patidar as India lurched to 33 for three, with the suspicion some early-morning moisture was responsible for aiding bowling conditions on what was expected to be a flat pitch.

But as temperatures rose in Gujarat and the surface gradually flattened out, Rohit and Jadeja steadied the ship with an unbroken 152-run stand as India went to tea on 185 for three.

Rohit was dropped on 27 off Hartley – and overturned an lbw shout off James Anderson three balls later – but he absorbed the pressure and found a willing ally in Jadeja. India’s captain thumped 11 fours and two meaty straight sixes off Hartley to go to tea on 97 not out.

Jadeja, meanwhile, was unbeaten on 68 on his return from a hamstring injury to help lead the recovery when India found themselves in deep trouble as the series, level at 1-1, resumed after a 10-day break.

England’s quicks shared the new ball and were both punished for overpitching but Wood hit his stride to see off Jaiswal. A double centurion in Vizag, there is a suspicion Jaiswal is more susceptible to express pace and bounce and his tentative poke caught the outside edge and carried to Joe Root.

Wood was agonisingly close to Gill’s off-stump after beating the inside edge in his next over. Perhaps unsettled by that, India’s number three played inside the line to the next ball and nicked off.

India were three down inside nine overs as Hartley struck in his opening instalment. It was an innocuous delivery but the ball appeared to stick in the surface and turned sharply, with Patidar miscuing a looping catch to cover.

Rather than expose debutant Sarfaraz Khan, Jadeja moved up one place to partner another old-stager in Rohit, who was hit on the grill by a spiteful Wood lifter.

India’s captain was then reprieved after an intended flick caught the edge and whizzed to Root, who could not cling on to a tough chance at slip.

Rohit was then saved by an inside edge after being given out lbw off Anderson – three balls later – and after weathering some sustained pressure, Rohit and Jadeja restored some calm.

Rohit was characteristically fluent through the leg-side, tucking off his hips and legs, and survived an lbw shout off Hartley on 49 to reach his first Test 50 in nine innings. His lean patch has followed India’s World Cup final defeat but any building pressure has been eased by this knock.

Hartley toiled through 17 overs at one end – only interrupted by one from Rehan Ahmed just before lunch – as Anderson and Wood took it in turns at the other. Anderson was surgical and found a hint of reverse, while Wood bounded in but both were unrewarded for their endeavours.

Jadeja was at first content to be the junior partner in the union but he reached an important 50 on his home ground before tea.

There were muted appeals when Rohit, on 87, missed a sweep off Rehan, who was retained after a visa problem earlier in the week.

While it was inconclusive whether the ball had caught any of the glove, it definitely hit his forearm and would have gone on to thud into the stumps but England did not review.

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