Moeen Ali notched up his second highest Test score of 146 as India bowlers were left to toil on a flat pitch in the inconsequential final Test against England in Chennai on Saturday.
Umesh Yadav finally exploited the England No 4’s weakness against the bouncer, forcing the left-handed batsman to top-edge a pull which was caught at square leg, but his marathon knock guided the visitors to 477 all out after tea on Day 2. (HIGHLIGHTS)
India suffered a setback after a bruised shoulder suffered while fielding prevented Murali Vijay from opening. Parthiv Patel (28*) partnered KL Rahul (30*) as India reached 60 for no loss at stumps.
Vijay arrived at his home ground after scoring his second century of the series in Mumbai to help India seal the series and was favoured to shine on the placid MA Chidambaram Stadium track.
NO HOME RUN
Things didn’t go too well for the other Chennai player, Ravichandran Ashwin, too. The off-spinner, leading bowler of the series with 27 scalps, managed just one more, returning expensive figures of 1/151 from 44 overs. (SCORECARD)
England owed it to Moeen Ali and the lower order after resuming on their overnight 284 for four. He hit 13 fours and a straight six off Ravichandran Ashwin in his 262-ball knock spanning just over six hours.
His overnight 146-run third wicket partnership with Joe Root (88) and an 86-run stand with wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow had set the stage.
Ashwin struck off the fifth ball of the day to have all-rounder Ben Stokes caught behind, but England’s lower order stood firm. Adil Rashid (60) and debutant Liam Dawson (66 not out) put on a record 108-run eighth-wicket partnership in India as England posted their third total of 400 or more in the series.
FLAT PITCH HURTS
Having faced criticism for laying out rank turners in the crushing series win over South Africa last year, the tracks for this home season against New Zealand and England, though giving assistance to spinners, have not been unplayable.
However, with India having sealed the series 3-0 with the innings win in the fourth Test in Mumbai, and Cyclone Vardah affecting preparation of the MA Chidambaram Stadium’s traditional turning track, Ashwin and Co made to work really hard.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja’s discipline helped him to claim three wickets on Day 1 but he couldn’t add any more to his tally. With little bounce off the good length spot, it was easy for batsmen to deal with Ashwin’s variations and slower pace, leaving the pacers to provide relief.
Ishant Sharma trapped the aggressive Jos Buttler leg before after the batsman missed a straight delivery as India took three wickets in the morning.
AN OLD MARK
Rashid’s 108-run partnership with Dawson bettered England’s previous best eighth-wicket stand in India of 97 by Douglas Jardine and Hedley Verity, which they achieved on their first-ever tour in 1933/34 at Chennai.
The visitors were all out into the eighth over after tea after Stuart Broad was run out for 19 and last man Jake Ball was bowled by Amit Mishra for the struggling leg-spinner’s only wicket.
Rashid and Dawson batted fluently, picking up from where Moeen Ali had left off, attacking spinners on a pitch which played true. Umesh Yadav, who bowled consistently fast, eventually had him caught behind slashing at a delivery outside off-stump.
It was a good comeback by Dawson, who was struck flush on the helmet by Ishant off the second delivery he faced in Test cricket.