Yashasvi Jaiswal made the most of the good batting deck on Day 1 of the 2nd India vs England Test at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium compiling his second Test hundred, and on the cusp of a double – a knock of the highest quality and that of focus and a hunger for runs.
In the first Test, his 80 was built on early attack and then consolidation, but in Vizag, Jaiswal was methodical in his approach starting in a watchful manner before going for his shots when the opportunity presented, and he reaped the reward of his patience and immaculate shot selection even as his senior teammates once again squandered their starts, on a track that had no demons– in fact the pitch offered pretty much nothing for the bowlers; it was a deck as good as it gets for batting. But barring Jaiswal, none of the batters managed to convert their starts with everyone, sans Rohit Sharma and KS Bharat, going past the 20-run mark, but none of them doubling their scores. Jaiswal’s 179 off 257 (17×4, 5×6) stood a cut above the rest as India ended Day 1 at 336/6.
After India won the toss and opted to bat, Jaiswal began brilliantly with two fours off Joe Root’s first over – the second of the Test – slashing the off-spinner towards covers and then drove one fuller towards extra cover, even as his skipper and opening partner Sharma looked a bit circumspect. That was largely owed to the change in the playing XI made by England by bringing in the experience and control of James Anderson for Mark Wood and Anderson took the pitch out of the equation with an immaculate line and length early on. Rohit and Jaiswal missed a few deliveries, particularly the ones that Anderson bowled with a wobble seam, that, after pitching, nipped back in and some held its line, putting the batters in a spot of bother.
While Jaiswal and Rohit saw through the tough early phase of Anderon’s first spell, Root, who opened the bowling with Anderson becoming the England veteran’s 23rd new ball partner, lacked the incisiveness he had shown in Hyderabad on a track that did not have anything for him to extract; yet he managed to keep the Indian pair quiet.
By the time Stokes brought in his first bowling change – in fact – double change in the form of Tom Hartley and debutant Shoaib Bashir, India had only managed 23 and by the first hour the score had cantered to 40. Rohit still looked a touch defensive missing out on deliveries he would have otherwise converted to scoring opportunities.
And in the second over after drinks, England got their first breakthrough when Bashir got his first Test wicket as early as the fourth over when Rohit flicked one that turned sharply from the middle and Stokes had Ollie Pope positioned at leg slip, who latched on to the opportunity. Rohit went for an underwhelming 14 off 41.
In walked an under-fire Shubman Gill, and if there was any track that he would have wanted to get himself back in form, this was it; and from the first ball itself, Gill’s intent was clear. He shimmed down the track to Bashir to open his account and he continued to be adventurous often leaving his crease to find the gaps in field to roll over his score.
Gill got a juicy full toss and a pitched-up deliveries from Hartley that he put away for boundaries. He also got down to sweep Bashir over backward square leg and drove one past mid-off with ease. The form seemed to be coming back. But Stokes brought in the change in bowling with 22 minutes left for lunch – Anderson for his second spell. Even though Gill got a boundary opening the face of his bat past the two slips, Anderson set up the Indian batter beautifully two overs before lunch. After bowling three straightish back-of-length deliveries to Gill, he pushed the fourth one wider and fuller, and Gill fell into the trap prodding at it and edged it to Ben Foakes. Gill went for 34 off 46 and as he walked back, he knew he had missed out on a big one. This was the fifth time Anderson had picked up Gill in Tests. Gill now averages under eight against the English bowler.
Post lunch session though was all about Jaiswal. In the final over before lunch, Jaiswal had got to his fifty with a four off Bashir. In the same over, he had dispatched a low full toss for a six. And this was the hallmark of Jaiswal’s innings on Day 1. With assured footwork, he worked the good deliveries to the gaps and never missed an opportunity to put away the bad ones. He upped the ante and in no time was into his 80s. In the 45th over, he went back to Hartley for a cut and was cramped for room, but the healthy edge was too quick for Root at first slip.
That probably was the only false shot he played up until then, but he was unfazed cracking two fours – one down the ground and other creamed through deep extra cover to move into the 90s. Once there, he danced down the track to Hartley hitting his third six over long-off to bring up his 2nd Test ton.
Shreyas Iyer, who himself in need of a big score, like Gill, looked in good touch and despite Anderson peppering him with short stuff, looked largely in control, until he tried to cut Hartley only to manage an under edge which was superbly caught by Foakes. He went for 27 off 59, but not before adding 90 runs for the third wicket with Jaiswal.
Jaiswal seemed to lose focus after reaching his hundred, and started chancing his arms around and he nearly gifted his wicket away when he sliced one uppishly close to Jonny Bairstow at backward point. But after that, Jaiswal reined in his flamboyant shots and picked off the spinners with ease. line and of length deliveries continued to be dispatched.
He strung together a good partnership with debutant Rajat Patidar, who showed a good account of himself during his stay in the middle that lasted for 72 deliveries. He looked compact in the middle and facing up to Anderson rarely hurried. To the spinners, he played the ball late and anything on the up, he unfurled his wrist for some sumptuous inside-out drives. It was only bad luck that he got out to a top spinner from Rehan that bounced more than he expected and hit his gloves before trickling towards the stumps. In the company of Axar Patel Jaiswal went past the 150-run mark and put on another solid 51 run-stand with Patel before the allrounder picked out point with a cut shot to depart for 27.
Local boy KS Bharat came into a loud cheer from the sizable Vizag crowd and gave company to and entertained the crowd with a massive six over the cow corner, but even he was guilty of gifting away his wicket two overs before the close of play – caught at backward point off a half-tracker from Ahmed by Bashir for 17.
Brief Scores: India 336/6 (Yashasvi Jaiswal 179*, Shubman Gill 32; Rehan Ahmed 2/61) vs England