Birmingham, July 1: Rishabh Pant played a knock for the ages to turn the tables on England and take India to an imposing 338 for seven on a rain-hit day one of the rescheduled fifth Test here on Friday.
At 98 for five, India were staring down the barrel but Pant (146 off 111 balls) scripted a remarkable turnaround in the company of Ravindra Jadeja (83 batting off 163) as the duo shared a match changing 222-run stand off 239 balls. Pant, who rendered the England bowlers helpless, hammered 20 boundaries and four sixes, in his awe-inspiring effort.
The rain in the morning meant only 73 overs could be bowled on the opening day.
Having faced criticism for his struggles in white-ball cricket recently, Pant continued his love affair with the red-ball format by smashing his fifth century overall and fourth in overseas conditions.
The conditions and match situation was against him but he once again thrived on it to leave the opposition frustrated. As only he could, he danced down the track against the great James Anderson, reverse scooped him but also played conventional strokes, including the straight drives and back foot punches, enroute to the fastest hundred (89 balls) by an Indian wicketkeeper.
Skipper Ben Stokes fancied Jack Leach’s chances against Pant but the ploy failed miserably as the southpaw collected boundaries off the left-arm spinner at will. Leach ended up with day’s figures of 0/71 in nine overs.
Pant’s innings came to an end towards close of play with part-timer Joe Root providing the much needed breakthrough.
Jadeja, who enjoyed Pant’s audacious stroke from the other end, also played a major role in India’s remarkable recovery and produced some delightful drives on the way.
Pant and Jadeja’s counter-attacking partnership had helped India recover to 174 for five at tea after the visitors lost half their side shortly after lunch.
While Anderson did the damage in the morning, Matthew Potts got the prized wicket of an out of form Virat Kohli (11) and a shaky Hanuma Vihari (20) post lunch to put England on top.
Earlier, England’s most decorated pacer Anderson produced probing spells in the rain-hit morning session to reduce India to 53 for two. Anderson had openers Shubman Gill (17 off 24) and Cheteshwar Pujara (13 off 46) caught by Zak Crawley at second slip to give England the advantage after Stokes opted to ‘chase’ at Edgbaston. (PTI)
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