KL Rahul slams his bat in disgust. KL Rahul could not believe it after he hit a half-tracker straight to mid-wicket when he inching towards his 9th Test century.

England captain Ben Stokes, who had his face covered from the moment it went up in the air, raised his arms and looked up in the air with his eyes closed; thanking his stars. Tom Hartley, the debutant, was ecstatic. It was his second Test wicket but more importantly, it a break from the ruthless treatment he received from the Indian batters in this first Test match of the series.

It was an important wicket for England as India ran away with the game. But what about Rahul? He had to take the long walk back with his head down after falling short of his 9th Test century by just 14 runs.

For sure it was. It was a half-tracker from the left-arm spinner, who had been smoked for a six by Ravindra Jadeja just a couple of balls ago in the same over. The modern-day batter on 86 surely won’t be worried about the fielder in the deep. He would back himself 9 out of 10 times to clear the ropes when a loose delivery is there. Rahul did exactly that.

KL Rahul slams his bat in disgust
KL Rahul slams his bat in disgust

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The problem was not with the shot that he played. It is in the execution. Instead of letting the ball come to him, he stretched his arms and tried to pull out. There was no control. Even though he made a decent connection, the power missing. He holed out in the deep mid-wicket fence.

This was a brilliant innings from Rahul. Apart from the blip very early in his innings where he got an outside edge off Joe Root’s slider but was lucky that England keeper Ben Foakes failed to hold on to the catch, the right-hander batting in Virat Kohli’s position for the first time, did a splendid job.

India, who have not lost a test series at home since 2012, motored along to 309-5 at tea on the second day for a lead of 63, with all-rounders Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin yet to bat. Ravindra Jadeja was on 45 at the break with Srikar Bharat on nine at the other end.

After India resumed day two on 119-1, England opened with part-time spinner Joe Root, who dismissed the dangerous-looking Yashasvi Jaiswal (80) in his first over.

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Jaiswal hit Root’s second ball for four but, two balls later, offered a high return catch to Root, who leaped to pouch the ball.

Root was taken off the attack after four overs, which as surprising as England’s decision of not using his off-spin on Thursday when Jaiswal was toying with the England spinners. Leg-spinner Ahmed removed Iyer with Hartley taking the catch in the deep.

The roles were reversed as the English duo combined again to dismiss Rahul, who threw his bat in disgust after pulling a Hartley half-tracker to Ahmed when a hundred seemed there for the taking.

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