ENG vs IND 2nd Test Day 4: Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane Find Form Before Moeen Ali Puts England Back on Top
Ajinkya Rahane celebrates his hundred in Boxing Day Test vs Australia at MCG©Twitter

London: The seasoned duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane found much-needed runs from their bats to rescue India from a perilous position and give their team a fighting chance in the second Test against England here on Sunday.

With their in-form openers and skipper Virat Kohli back in the hut at 55 for three and India effectively ahead by only 28 runs, the visitors stared at a batting collapse considering the prolonged struggles of the middle-order and their long tail.

However, Pujara (45 off 206) and Rahane (61 off 146) thrived under tremendous pressure to bat for almost 50 overs for a 100-run stand, taking the game to day five.

When bad light forced early stumps on day four, India reached 181 for six, leading England by 154 runs. Rishabh Pant (14 batting off 29) will need some support from the long Indian tail to add some valuable runs on the fifth morning.

With the pitch already playing a few tricks, England will have to bat extremely well to secure victory.

Both Pujara and Rahane, who were desperately searching for runs, showed the grit and determination that they are known for to get back among the runs. They might not have scored big hundreds but the amount of balls they consumed kept the visitors in the game.

Rahane got a life on 31 when he was dropped by Jonny Bairstow off Moeen Ali.

Both struggled early in their innings but got better and better as their innings progressed. Pujara, who took 35 balls to get off the mark, played his trademark cut shot off James Anderson while Rahane was good with his pull shot off the pacers and sweep against Ali.

Their fall in quick succession tilted the game back in England’s favour. Pujara got an unplayable ball from Mark Wood that rose sharply from back of length while Rahane edged one back to the wicketkeeper off Ali.

Three overs later, Ali bowled a beauty that turned just enough to beat Ravindra Jadeja’s bat and hit the off-stump.

In the afternoon, Pujara and Rahane put up a dogged resistance against a probing England attack to bat out the entire second session.

The two senior batsmen steadied the innings after the visitors lost their top three for 56 runs by lunch.