India vs England 3rd Test 2024: “Amidst the confusion surrounding the announcement, Rohit Sharma unexpectedly outperformed Yashasvi Jaiswal and scared Sarfaraz Khan away in a humorous turn of events at Rajkot”

India vs England 3rd Test 2024: "Amidst the confusion surrounding the announcement, Rohit Sharma unexpectedly outperformed Yashasvi Jaiswal and scared Sarfaraz Khan away in a humorous turn of events at Rajkot"
India vs England 3rd Test 2024 image by PTI

India needed a day like this. Just when it seemed like they could be pushed out of their own home, they came roaring back with a statement. In the midst of change, India had lost three tests in a little over three years, more than they had in the previous eight years combined. But in Rajkot, they delivered a resounding blow to their latest challengers: a 434-run victory, India’s biggest, and England’s second-biggest defeat.

On a sunny day when not a cloud was in sight, facing a formidable crowd, the Indian batting launched an assault to set an improbable target for the visiting bowlers, before the home bowlers turned the pitch into a minefield. During this time, records tumbled, with promises of more to come. It was a commanding display by this new group of batsmen, giving India a 2-1 lead in the series with two matches remaining.

Yashasvi Jaiswal, who retired hurt on 105 runs, came back with consecutive centuries, breaking the record for the most sixes in a test innings and taking India to the record for the most sixes in a match. With 12 sixes and 14 fours in his innings, he had to wait to come back as he was under the nightwatchman’s rule for the first 90 minutes.

Kuldeep Yadav excelled in the early exchanges, marking his international cricket with a first six, defended well, forced England into a review debacle, dismissed Shubman Gill for just nine runs, and eventually caused a finger injury to Root when he offered a catch behind the wicket.

In the company of Mumbai’s senior but India’s junior, debutant Sarfaraz Khan, Jaiswal cautiously began again, before they both engaged in a display of exhibition and power-hitting, vying for supremacy. Jaiswal emerged victorious as Sarfaraz could only manage 68 runs in partnership with him in just 26.2 overs.

Jaiswal’s onslaught included a hat-trick of sixes off James Anderson’s deliveries, a sweep, an extra cover drive, and even a switch-hit behind the field. Memories of George Bailey resurfaced as Anderson was the only other batsman to hit three consecutive sixes. By the end of that over, Jaiswal had reached 180 and then slowed down on his way to 200.

This gave Sarfaraz the opportunity to shine. He started his attack with a slow sweep to thwart Rehan Ahmad’s plan of bowling outside leg stump. Then he got Root out, who was bowling leg-spin. When he hit Rehan for sixes, fours, and sixes in the 98th over, he thought he might turn his first two fifties into a fifty and a hundred. However, Rohit Sharma took charge of the innings and set England a target of 557 runs in nearly 130 overs.

The result may never have been in doubt, but India needed some improvements at the start of the innings after four half-century opening stands in the last five innings. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Siraj were on the money, and the ball swung a bit for them. The innings began with two maiden overs, but Ben Duckett played 12 balls to get to his target before attempting a risky single in the seventh over, which turned into a run-out due to the sprint of debutant wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel, who threw while falling and also broke the wicket while running. It was England’s first opening stand of less than 40 runs in this series.

During the tea break, in the eight overs split, Bumrah tested the top order well. One delivery hit Zak Crawley’s inner edge and sent him lbw. After tea, R Ashwin returned to action, having left Rajkot the previous night to deal with a family health emergency.

However, Ashwin didn’t need to do much. Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep were all over England. Ollie Pope was the first victim of the spin, attempting to cut but caught slip by Rohit’s sharp catch.

England lost their way due to the sweep, a shot that troubled India in Hyderabad. Jonny Bairstow, who has been at sea throughout this series, and Root, who has thrown more overs in this series than he has scored runs, selected too many balls for the shot and paid the price. Ben Stokes was dismissed by Kuldeep after being deceived.

Three wickets fell with just 50 runs on the board. At the end of 25 overs, England were at 50 for 7 wickets; it was their slowest first 25 overs in the modern era, and their lowest total at the end of 74 overs was their lowest in the past.

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