After four days in which just 21 wickets have fallen and over 1,000 runs have been scored, it will either take an epic collapse or an aggressive declaration which ensures that the first Test between India and England at Rajkot doesn’t end in a draw.
Having begun the day still more than 200 behind England’s mammoth first innings total, India’s first priority would have been to avoid the follow-on and get as close to the total as possible before even thinking of anything else.
They managed to do that courtesy of another good lower-order batting display, led by Ravichandran Ashwin, who registered his second-best Test score against England and helped India get close to 500 before they were bowled out.
With a lead of 48, England’s openers walked out to bat knowing that barring an epic collapse, they held all the right cards and they batted safe in the knowledge that there was still of time left in the game as both Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed concentrated primarily on survival while picking away the bad balls. At the end of the day, England have a lead of 163 runs.
Adil Rashid described the opening partnership as “crucial” and heaped praise on Hameed while adding that Saqlain Mushtaq has been a great help so far. “It was a crucial partnership,” he said. “Hameed played exceptionally well and hopefully he would carry on tomorrow. He works hard on his game in the nets and knows his game well too.”
Speaking about his bowling, Rashid said: “I felt okay with my bowling, was nice to get into a good rhythm and find the decent areas, so yeah, perhaps the best I’ve bowled so far. Depends on the circumstances of the game and who is batting but I try to be my usual self.
“I try an take one game at a time and not look to far ahead. Trying to focus on every hour and every over. The older ball turns a bit and the new balls tend to skid a lot more but overall it has been a pretty good wicket. We need to get a nice big score and then see what happens,” he added.
Here are some reactions from the cricket fraternity:
There was plenty of praise for Haseeb Hameed, who looked composed on his Test debut. Dean Jones:
England pick a 19yo Hameed. Plays beautifully and Outplays Cook.. and how many 19yo's are playing Shield cricket?— Dean Jones (@ProfDeano) November 12, 2016
Former England wicketkeeper Alec Stewart:
Impressive start to his Test career for Hameed. Looks composed and comfortable at the crease.— Alec Stewart (@StewieCricket) November 12, 2016
Former England batsman James Taylor:
It's early days but Hameed looks a great find! He's played this beautifully! These two look a good foil for each other. #INDvENG— James Taylor (@jamestaylor20) November 12, 2016
Hameed’s Lancashire teammate Kyle Jarvis:
Former England fast bowler Darren Gough:
Touching moment the pride on hameeds father face— Darren Gough (@DGoughie) November 12, 2016
Former England batsman Mark Butcher:
Well played @HaseebHameed97 , the first of many. Congratulations to all of the Hameed family.— Ashley Giles (@Gilo) November 12, 2016
Harsha Bhogle on India's tactics with the bat in the first innings.
By batting as long as they did, India ensured that only something very very unusual could force a result against them!— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) November 12, 2016
Can't remember an Indian Test team with a more reliable lower-order. Jadeja at 9 is a luxury. Ashwin--a proper batsman. #INDvENG— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) November 12, 2016