English hopes fade as India improve to 264 for one in fifth Test

By Sports Desk March 08, 2024

England’s bowlers toiled without any reward as unbeaten centuries from India pair Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill snuffed out hope of a fightback in Dharamsala.

A batting collapse on the opening day of the fifth Test left England behind the eight-ball and India advanced an overnight 135 for one to 264 without further loss to move 46 ahead on the second morning.

Zak Crawley got fingertips to a chance presented by Rohit but it was otherwise one-way traffic as India’s captain reached three figures just before Gill on the stroke of lunch.

Rohit ended the session on 102 not out, with Gill unbeaten on 101 in an unbroken stand of 160 and England’s hopes of a consolation win at the end of this series are growing ever more bleak.

Mark Wood bowled in excess of 90mph regularly and was perhaps a tad unfortunate to concede 60 in nine overs while Shoaib Bashir was also expensive. Tom Hartley offered a degree of control but was non-threatening while James Anderson sent down just three overs, leaking 16 runs.

England started the day needing quick wickets and while Bashir started with a maiden, he was carted back over his head twice by Rohit for six-four while Gill disdainfully stepped down to Anderson and launched the veteran seamer over the rope.

Rohit offered the merest of chances on 68 after turning Bashir off his hip but Crawley, perhaps unsighted at leg slip, was too late to get in position as the ball flicked off his fingertips and away.

India’s first 50 runs came off 56 balls and while England were able to briefly slow up the scoring rate, they were unable to exert any pressure. Wood drew the outside edge of Gill but the ball flew wide of the lone slip and the batter middled one through point for four later in the over.

The 100-run stand came off just 149 balls after Rohit stepped to leg and smashed Wood through vacant mid-off for four, while a 94mph attempted yorker was driven straight for another boundary by Gill.

Bashir, whose first 17-over spell yielded 86, was greeted back into the attack with a six by Gill which took India into the lead while another maximum left the young off-spinner with his hands on his head.

It was just a question of who would reach their hundred first, with Rohit winning the race with a single into the leg-side off Hartley, while Gill slog swept Bashir for his 10th four, to go with five sixes, to bring up his ton.

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