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4th Test: Ashwin, Kuldeep push England on backfoot as Eng reach 120/5 at tea


Ranchi, Feb 25
Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav took five wickets collectively to push England on the backfoot, even as the visitors’ swelled their lead to 166 after reaching 120/5 at tea on day three of the fourth Test at the JSCA International Stadium on Sunday.

In this session, the pitch was fine for 90 minutes, before it opened its bag full of tricks, which Ashwin and Kuldeep used very well to get big wickets. Jonny Bairstow (30 not out) and Ben Foakes (yet to get off the mark) hold the key for England to try and take the lead past 200, to make it a challenging target for India.

With a lead of 46, Ben Duckett began by smashing a four each off Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. But Ashwin removed him and Ollie Pope on consecutive balls in the fifth over to rattle England’s second innings early on.

While Duckett was caught at forward short leg, Pope was trapped lbw when the ball straightened and hit his back pad right in front of leg-stump. It gave Ashwin scalps number 350 and 351, surpassing Anil Kumble to become India’s leading Test wicket-taker on home soil.

Crawley launched a counter-attack by using his reach to good effect and getting to the pitch of the ball to drive on both sides of the wicket with ease. But Ashwin got his third wicket in the 17th over, when he found turn to beat Joe Root’s inside edge and trap him lbw for 11.

Crawley marched forward to bring up his 13th fifty in Tests and third of the ongoing series, coming off 72 balls. But Kuldeep removed him for 61 off 90 balls after beating the batter for turn and rattling the middle-stump.

Ben Stokes survived an lbw call on umpire’s call off Jadeja, but was castled by a Kuldeep delivery which kept low and turned to hit the back pad and rolled onto the stumps in a session where India fought back on a pitch which has a lot of assistance for bowlers.

Brief Scores: England 353 and 120/5 in 33 overs (Zak Crawley 60, Jonny Bairstow 30 not out; Ravichandran Ashwin 3-48, Kuldeep Yadav 2-10) lead India 307 in 103.2 overs (Dhruv Jurel 90, Yashasvi Jaiswal 73; Shoaib Bashir 5-119, Tom Hartley 3-68) by 166 runs