Former Team India pacer Zaheer Khan was impressed with the positive intent shown by openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in the last session of play at The Oval on Friday. According to Zaheer, by not going into their shell, Team India’s openers sent a strong message to England that they are pushing for a win.
After England extended their first-innings lead to 99, Team India’s openers reduced the deficit to 56 by the end of the second day’s play.
Speaking to Cricbuzz, Zaheer hailed Team India’s openers for going out to bat with a positive approach despite being behind in the game. The retired left-arm seamer said:
“Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul's intent was really impressive. It is not easy for batters to play out that last hour. There is always that dilemma as to whether they must bat for stumps or keep playing their natural game. Often batters get confused in such a situation and lose their wicket as well. From that perspective, the Team India openers batted positively, played their shots and showed great intent.”
The former pacer added that if Team India can keep batting in the same mold on Day 3, their bowlers could bring the conditions into play on the last two days. Zaheer added:
“If you look at the run rate, India scored at nearly three an over. Earlier, (when conditions were tough) they were leaving the balls alone. By playing positive cricket, Team India’s openers have sent out a strong message to England, that they are here to score runs and want to win the game. They will be looking to first go past the deficit and then set England a challenging total. The fourth day or fifth day pitch will then come into play. India need to remain positive on Day 3. This is a good wicket and if they can score runs, they can come back into a winning position.”
After Rohit got an early reprieve in the slips, Team India’s openers batted out the rest of the last session without much trouble. They added a crucial 43 runs in 16 overs.
Team India can put this England side under pressure: Zaheer Khan
Zaheer Khan added that even though England will be confident following the Headingley win, according to him, the hosts could be put under pressure in the second innings.
The 42-year-old reckoned:
“This England team can be put under pressure. We saw it at Lord’s and, before that, in the first Test as well. Yes, Ollie Pope batted really well and could provide good support to skipper Joe Root in the second innings. I still feel this current England side is susceptible under pressure. India have an opportunity but it all depends on how the batters grab it.”
At stumps on Day 2 at The Oval, Rahul was unbeaten on 22 and Rohit on 20.