Indian spinners once again held centrestage before the hosts raced to 33 for 1 at tea on day four, in pursuit of the 103-run victory target in the third Test against England here today.
The trio of Ravichandran Ashwin (3/81), Ravindra Jadeja (2/62) and Jayant Yadav (2/21) shared bulk of the spoils to dismiss the visitors for 236 in their second innings, thereby limiting the victory target to 103 runs.
At tea, India were 33 for 1 with Parthiv Patel (16) and Cheteshwar Pujara (13) at the crease. Together they have hit six boundaries between them.
Credit should be given to young Haseeb Hameed for his gritty unbeaten 59 off 156 balls coming in at No 8 due to a finger injury that helped England cross the 200-run mark.
He hit six fours and a six off Ashwin to complete his second Test half-century. It was because of the teenager that India had to chase a 100 plus target.
It was a match where England were outbatted and outbowled by an Indian side that has been plagued by injuries. But Ashwin as usual put up a lion-hearted performance once again scoring a 72 and bagging 4 wickets. Equally creditable was the all-round effort of the other two specialist spinners, Jadeja (90 run and 4 wickets) and Jayant (55 runs and 4 wickets).
Having polished off the top-order save Joe Root, the question on fourth day was not how but when will India finish the match.
The only wicket that would have seriously bothered them was that of Root. But post Root, Hameed did put up a fight but it was always for a losing cause.
Root, who was standing between India and victory, was dismissed for 78 by Jadeja (2/39 in 23 overs), who got one to turn away sharply as the edge was taken by an alert Ajinkya Rahane, who reacted quickly to stretch his right hand. Root played 179 balls hitting six fours in the process.
Root got an able ally in young Hameed as the duo added 45 runs in 119 balls for the seventh wicket stand. It was this pair that erased the 134 run deficit.
Once Jadeja removed the gutsy Root minutes before lunch, the writing was on the wall. But Hameed delayed the inevitable and showed that he is one for the future with correct technique and a temperament to match with it.
During the post lunch session, it was Mohammed Shami (2/37 in 14 overs) who blew away the lower order with a barrage of short balls. Hameed had a 43-run stand for the 8th wicket with Chris Woakes (30). With the second new ball, Shami bowled a bouncer which Woakes missed and it broke the protective shield at the back of the helmet.
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Woakes was sufficiently softened up and the very next delivery also reared up and he fended awkwardly to give Parthiv an easy catch. Adil Rashid (0) was also welcomed with a short ball which he mis-hooked to Umesh Yadav at deep square leg.
The only consolation for England would be the fact that they managed to make India bat for the second in the match. But that would count for little as the match turned out to be a lopsided contest.
Hameed again lived up to his nickname 'Baby Boycott' for his dogged resistance during intial period. He mostly presented dead bat to the spinners and only played a few sweep shots after he was set.
He could have got out when Ashwin was introduced into the attack in the second hour of the morning session. Hameed, batting on six, tried to cut a delivery that Parthiv couldn't hold on to.
Parthiv's keeping in the match has been shoddy at times unlike his batting which looked more compact.
While Jadeja and Jayant did a commendable job in the first hour where they got a wicket apiece, it was strange that India's best spinner was only introduced in the second hour.
England's troubles started in the second over of the day as nightwatchman Gareth Batty (0) failed to open his account as he was trapped plumb in-front by a Jadeja arm ball. England were reduced to 78 for 5.
Jos Buttler (17) was expected to show some restraint considering the match situation. He came down the track to loft Jadeja for a six and a thickish outside edge off Umesh fetched him a boundary.
But he played one shot too many trying to loft Jayant over deep mid-wicket boundary but failed to get the required elevation to clear Jadeja, reducing the visitors to 107 for six.
Root was ready to play in occasional ones and twos even though Jadeja tried to hurry him which forced the Yorkshire man to play the left-armer off his backfoot.
He reached his 25th half century off 147 balls as he tucked one towards midwicket fence.