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Virat Kohli became the 22nd Indian to be out hit-wicket AFP

Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara saw India in a strong position at the end of the third day’s play. Vijay (126) and Pujara (124) added 209 runs for the second wicket but India could not capitalise on the advantage. In the first hour of the fourth day’s play, India lost their stalwarts Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane as the advantage swung England’s way. As Indian are playing five batsmen, Rahane’s role amplifies but he failed to make it count, falling for 13. Kohli too fell in the most unusual way, getting out hit-wicket for 40. A half-century stand between Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha rescued India to stability as they went to lunch of Day Four at 411 for 6. Live Cricket Scorecard: India vs England 1st Test at Rajkot

India could have ended Day Three at 319 for 2 but at the fag end of the day’s play, the advantage slightly swung back in the English direction. Vijay, who was an epitome of concentration, throughout the day fell in the second last over of the day. He had alone consumed over 50 overs. In what seemed to be a strategic error, India promoted Amit Mishra as the night-watchman and he fell for nought in the final over of the day. Why I say strategic error is because India could have sent in Rahane and Kohli could have played all the six balls of the final over of the day. Rahane, who the nightwatchman came to protect, would not have to take the strike in that case.

Kohli and Rahane are two of India’s finest batsmen and were expected put up a solid show harbouring India to safety. The did begin well. Stuart Broad tried dishing out the Matt Henry medicine to Rahane by peppering him with short balls but Rahane has made adjustments with his technique. He was deep in the crease and looked more in control while playing the pull. Woakes bowled a short one, in the last ball of the 115th over, Rahane did not commit himself on front foot and pulled towards the backward square-leg for a boundary. With that hit India avoided the follow-on.

Earlier, Broad tried the James Anderson formula on Kohli and bowled a probing line outside off-stump but Kohli played two attractive drives for boundaries. The second one was more of a flick through the mid-off region.

The bowling changed worked for Alastair Cook. Rahane who was living dangerously in bid to be aggressive, fell to a poor shot-selection. It was not the need of the hour, perhaps a lapse in concentration. He misjudged the length as it was not short enough. The ball clipped his pad on the way to stumps, even if it had not hit the stumps he would have been leg before. Kohli was visibly disappointed.

Ashwin, who did not have a great outing with the ball, came in at No.6. A little while later, Kohli fell in the most unusual fashion. Adil Rashid dropped one short and Kohli played a pull through the midwicket region but England fielders begun celebrating. As he swivelled through, he stepped back to the stumps. It was unfortunate and India were in the back foot.

This is the 22nd instance of an Indian batsman getting out hit-wicket and Kohli becomes the second Indian captain after Lala Amarnath to do so. The last Indian batsman, who was out hit-wicket was VVS Laxman in 2002.

Saha, Ashwin again

Saha and Ashwin have been a fabulous pair for India. Be it their partnership as wicketkeeper and strike bowler or as batting partners, the duo have done a fine job for India. Once again, they added 50 runs and batted well over an hour to help India to stability.

Ashwin looked set from ball one. In the eighth ball he faced, he beautifully transferred his weight on the back foot to play an attractive cut for a boundary. Rashid, who was getting good turn and bounce, that will definitely make Ashwin happy, wasted a review when he referred one upstairs. It was an appeal for leg before but all Ashwin had played was a front foot defence. Even if it had clipped the pad, it would be missing the off-stumps.

Saha had his share of luck. Ben Stokes was introduced in the 127th over. It was for the first time in the day that Ashwin and Saha had to play pace. In the second ball that he bowled, Stokes created a chance. Saha shuffled as he looked to defend. The swing opened him up as he got a thick edge. Jonny Bairstow dived to claim it but the ball bisected the keeper and first slip for a boundary.

Co-incidentally, Saha had dropped Stokes twice in his innings and the latter got the dose of same medicine. True, the game evens out.

Saha, who tried employing sweeps against the spinners, tried to break the shackles when he played an ambitious stroke off Rashid but did not connect it. However he got two runs as there was no long-off stationed. Saha finally had his way out in the first ball of the 131st over. He stepped out and launched Rashid over mid-off for a six. India’s score went past 400. India went to lunch at 411 with both Saha and Ashwin batting on 29 respectively.

Brief scores:

England 537 (Joe Root 124, Moeen Ali 117, Ben Stokes 128, Jonny Bairstow 46; Ravindra Jadeja 3 for 86) lead India 411 for 6 (Murali Vijay 126, Cheteshwar Pujara 124, Virat Kohli 40) by 126 runs.

Full Scorecard

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully [Twitter] and rivu7 [Facebook].)