Cook and Hameed fight as India set imposing target of 405

England 255 (Stokes 70, Bairstow 53, Root 53, Ashwin 5-67) and 40 for 0 (Cook 28*, Hameed 12*) need another 365 runs to beat India 455 and 204 (Kohli 81, Broad 4-33, Rashid 4-82)
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So far, so steady for Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed, as England’s unlikely bid for survival in the second Test was given a confident start on the fourth afternoon at Visakhapatnam. By tea, the openers had nibbled 40 runs out of an imposing and improbable victory target of 405, but more importantly, they had soaked up 28 overs without being parted to keep India waiting to reassert their authority.

If there is a template for England’s approach in the remaining four sessions of this contest then, on the evidence of the team’s two most stoic crease-occupiers, it is the one laid out by South Africa at Delhi on their own tour of India 12 months ago. On that occasion, instead of having a tilt at a distant target of 481, AB de Villiers (43 from 297 balls) and Hashim Amla (25 from 244) set their sights on blocking out five sessions, and came improbably close to doing so.

So, one down, four to go for England, and solidity is so far their watchword. Cook, a specialist both of Asian conditions and of taking time out of Test-match innings, was 28 not out from 84 balls at the break, his big long strides smothering the close attentions of India’s spinners, who beat the bat on occasions but for the most part were thwarted on a surface that would be offering plenty if England were interested in run-scoring, but is still true enough to reward determination.

At the other end, Hameed – for the fourth innings in a row since his debut at Rajkot – was giving every impression that he is The One, as far as England’s long-term opening ambitions are concerned. His most significant moment of alarm came from his very first delivery, a skiddy bouncer from Mohammad Shami that rapped him painfully on the gloves as he took his eyes off the ball. But, by tea, he too was looking settled and solid, 12 not out from 84, and oblivious to the attentions of up to four close catchers round the bat.

Once again, England’s determination was admirable, and once again, it had been replicated with ball as well as bat. After resuming on 98 for 3, India encountered Stuart Broad in another of his moods, as he pounded through an eight-over spell of skilfully varied legcutters. With Adil Rashid impressing once again with four wickets in the morning session, it required a spiky tenth-wicket stand of 42 between Jayant Yadav and Shami to revive India’s second innings from 162 for 9 to 204 all out.

Of course, England’s success with the ball wasn’t entirely encouraging given the challenge of batting last on this surface, but they will settle for pyrrhic victories at this stage of a still-competitive five-Test series. Broad may not feature in next week’s third match in Mohali but, buoyed by the confirmation that his foot injury was not as severe as he might have feared, he produced one of his most skilful spells of a stellar year, manipulating the old ball with cut and cross-seamers alike, and a variety of angles on the crease.

He deserved more than just two victims for his efforts. Ajinkya Rahane spliced a sharp lifter to Cook at slip for 26 before R Ashwin feathered another cutter through to Jonny Bairstow for 7, one over after overturning an lbw that he inside-edged onto his pads.

Rashid by this stage had replaced James Anderson as Broad’s sidekick, and he picked up where he had left off in his previous spells of an encouraging all-round display. He was unafraid to toss the ball up, knowing that India would have to come after him if they wanted to press their innings on, and that gave his variations a chance to grip and bite.

Wriddhiman Saha fell to his first ball from Rashid, a well-disguised googly that would have been clipping leg stump, and though Ravindra Jadeja got hold of one mighty swing for six over long-on, even Kohli found Rashid’s sharp turn hard to dominate. An ambitious drive outside off took a thick and fast edge, whereupon Ben Stokes took off at slip to cling onto a photographer’s dream of a catch, high to his right in one hand.

Broad, who had come close to pinning Kohli lbw in his previous over, was then edged low through the slips for four by Jayant to signal the end of his stint, but Rashid was not yet done. Jadeja’s aggression proved his downfall as he picked out Moeen Ali at deep midwicket before Bairstow pulled off his most impressive take of the match to dismiss Umesh Yadav, a fast and high edge off another Rashid legbreak that all but lodged in his armpit.

However, Jayant, continuing his impressive all-round game, kept England waiting as lunch was delayed in pursuit of the 10th wicket. England’s frustrations were visible when Shami joined in the fun, hoisting Rashid for two towering sixes in his 19 from 22 balls. It took a change of bowling to end the fun, with Moeen striking with his first delivery to have Shami stumped with his toe on the crease.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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