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After a shocking defeat in the first Test, India is grinding its way to ascendancy in the second Test. While everyone expected before the series that the margin of victory can be as high as 5-0, the over optimism has certainly come down. It was evident in the way the Indian camp batting first set about scoring runs in a rather circumspect manner. All batsmen got starts but failed to convert them into a big score. But the day was made truly special by the young southpaw Yashasvi Jaiswal who remained unbeaten at the end of the opening day on 179 and is now India’s biggest hope to put up a strong first innings total.

Winning the toss, it was a no brainer for Indian captain Rohit Sharma to choose to bat first. The usual template on Indian pitches is to bat well, post big scores and then put opposing teams under pressure in the second innings when the pitch begins deteriorating.But to achieve that, the batsmen once set need to carry on for longer knocks. Unfortunately, no one paid heed to Indian Head Coach, Rahul Dravid’s words after the first match where he said that his batters need to capitalize on starts and make big runs!

Rohit began his innings in an uncharacteristic manner. He was overtly watchful on a flat track against an inexperienced bowling line up barring James Anderson. His misery came to an end after he was caught down the leg slip on 14 off 41 balls to the debutant Shoaib Bashir. The opening partnership was of 40 runs and interestingly, each partnership after that till the 5th wicket was at least 49 runs or more.

Yashasvi Jaiswal, though, remained the solo star of the day as he stole the spotlight with his strokeplay, guiding India to a position of some strength. His scintillating 179 not out from 257 balls showcased a fearless approach, setting the tone for India’s redemption after their first-Test setback.

Jaiswal’s innings, marked by a mix of defence and aggression, stood out as the day’s outstanding performance. From his four off Joe Root’s first ball to the monstrous six that brought up his second Test century, Jaiswal was a class apart. His fearless batting provided the much-needed impetus for an otherwise listless India, offering a sharp counter to the tricky challenges that the English bowlers were presenting.

England’s resilience in the field deserves a lot of appreciation. Despite a tough day on a pitch which was more suitable for batting, the visitors claimed six crucial wickets. It stopped India from running away with the game. Shoaib Bashir showcased a calm temperament as he picked up another crucial wicket after Rohit. At the fag end of the day with just an hour left to play, Axar hit one from Shoaib straight in the hands of Rehan Ahmed at point.

Besides Yashasvi, the only other aggressive spark came from India’s wicketkeeper batsman, K.S.Bharat who came out to bat with all guns blazing and hit 2 fours and a six in his brief stay of 17 from 23 balls. But his aggression ultimately got the better of him as he got out just 10 mins before the day’s close. Along with the spinners, James Anderson, the veteran at 41, displayed ageless mastery, providing control and guile. His crucial wicket of Shubman Gill typified his impact, and his economy rate of 1.76 proved instrumental in containing India’s batting lineup.

Apart from Jaiswal, the rest of India’s batting presented a mixed bag, with six dismissals between 14 and 34. As the day unfolded, Jaiswal’s sublime form overshadowed individual struggles within the Indian lineup. The young batsman’s career-best innings, despite battling cramps toward the end, showcased his determination to anchor India to a safe first innings score. In an era when even the most seasoned and accomplished batsmen are struggling to keep pace with the varying demands of white ball and red ball batting, Yashasvi seems a rare batter who is comfortable in all formats. He has already done well in ODIs and T20s and his performance in Test cricket now suggests that Yashasvi Jaiswal is a special talent who looks cutting edge in every format!

After being ‘bazzballed’ in the first Test, fans expect a lot more intent from Team India. It will be interesting to see in the next couple of days whether Jaiswal has done enough to compensate for team mates who threw their wickets at crucial junctures or whether England will claw their way back into the game. Either way, it will be a fascinating watch and could notch up another victory for Test Cricket!


Siddhaarth Mahan The writer is a specialist on Sports and Cinema who works as an actor in the Hindi film industry

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