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2nd Test, Visakhapatnam, February 02 - 05, 2024, England tour of India
396 & 255
(T:399) 253 & 292

India won by 106 runs

Player Of The Match
6/45 & 3/46

Jaiswal stands tall and alone for India as England edge the day

The India opener made his highest Test score - 179 not out - on a day where no other batter got past 40

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
India 336 for 6 (Jaiswal 179*, Bashir 2-100, Ahmed 2-61) vs England
You can only judge a pitch after both sides have Bazballed on it, or so the saying might now go, after England's preposterous exploits in Hyderabad. On Yashasvi Jaiswal's watch, India appeared in the mood to make amends for their first-Test failings, thanks to a scintillating century that has met this new agenda for his team with poise and attitude aplenty.
However, in claiming six wickets on a tough day in the field, England refused to buckle when previous visiting teams might have been braced for a batting landslide, and with Shoaib Bashir settling into his first day of Test cricket with two wickets and a calm command of his attributes, they are no worse off at the close of this first day than they had been at the same juncture of the opening Test. And both sides know full well how that one turned out.
Either way, Jaiswal's sublime 179 not out from 257 balls was the day's outstanding hand - both the innings that he had promised amid the fluency of his first-innings 80 from 74 in Hyderabad, and the one that India desperately needed to regain their footing in this series. From his very first stroke, an unfettered slap for four off Joe Root's first ball, via the towering six over long-on with which he brought up his second Test century and his first on home soil, Jaiswal was a class apart - the one Indian batter who found the fearlessness required to pre-empt the sort of challenge that England are sure to offer when their own turn comes to bat.
By the final minutes of the day he was struggling with cramp, but Jaiswal still marched past his previous best of 171, made on debut in the Caribbean last year. His new career-best was secured with the fifth six off his innings off the legspin of Rehan Ahmed - another sweet connection down the ground that maintained a control percentage in excess of 90%, and ensured that he'll resume with ambitions of significantly more on day two.
The rest of India's batting, however, was more of a mixed bag, and as a consequence, England's rejigged attack was able to take comfort in the struggle on what has so far been a belter of a wicket. With six men dismissed between the scores of 14 and 34, including KS Bharat in the closing moments of the day, India were in danger of similar failings to those that undermined their performance in Hyderabad, when eight of the top nine reached double figures in the first innings but no-one managed to produce the knock-out blow. At least, on that count, Jaiswal cannot be accused of pulling any punches.
Nevertheless, it was a gutsy display from England's remarkably lop-sided attack. Having opted for three specialist spinners and just the lone quick, their line was led, perhaps inevitably, by the one man who's seen it all before. The veteran James Anderson, back in action at the age of 41, put his Ashes struggles behind him with an ageless display of cut and guile. He picked off Shubman Gill for his 691st wicket, and thereby ensured that he has now struck in every single year since his debut in 2003, but his influence was felt in each and every one of his 17 overs across three distinct spells.
Anderson's presence - in place of the pure head-hunter Mark Wood, whose energetic efforts had gone wicketless in Hyderabad - offered a degree of control that Ben Stokes had been obliged to do without in the first Test. His infinitesimal command of each-way movement produced an economy-rate of 1.76 that was less than half that of any of his team-mates, and helped to ensure that - unlike in Hyderabad, where all the first-day focus had fallen on Tom Hartley's struggle for control - this week's new boy was nothing less than a good-news story.
Bashir hadn't even been born when Anderson made his own Test debut against Zimbabwe in May 2003, but with apologies to Jimmy's own first scalp, Mark Vermeulen, the identity of Bashir's maiden Test wicket will perhaps live on rather longer in the collective memory.
Irrespective of Jaiswal's fluency alongside him, Rohit Sharma had dug himself in for the long haul in making 14 boundary-less runs from 41 balls after winning the toss, the consequence of which was that Bashir had not only settled into his rhythm after entering the attack in the 12th over, but had been rewarded with a leg-slip to crank up the pressure. Cue a closed-face clip at a regulation offbreak, and a sharp take from Ollie Pope to pick off India's captain against the apparent run of play.
The same pattern would repeat itself as the day progressed. Gill, under extreme pressure for his place, started his innings watchfully with 17 from his first 36 balls, only for a sudden flurry of boundaries to prove his downfall. Two of these were classy cover-drives as Bashir over-pitched, but the other two were streaky edges off Anderson, who simply adjusted his line on the same probing full length, and induced a nicked drive to Ben Foakes for 34. It was the fifth time in seven innings that Anderson had got his man, at a cost of 7.8 runs per go, and as India went to lunch on 103 for 2, the session's honours were broadly even.
Only one man fell between lunch and tea - Shreyas Iyer, superbly caught by Foakes for 27, as he stayed low with a scuttling delivery from Hartley and clung onto an under-edged cut that could easily have nutmegged him. But Jaiswal by this stage had soared past his century - arms afloat in celebration after a mic-dropping of his bat - and when Rajat Patidar unfurled England's signature stroke from Hyderabad, the reverse-sweep for four, it seemed India's debutant had brought with him precisely the sort of youthful verve to complement that of his team-mate.
But England would not be denied in their optimistic hunt for wickets. Rehan, held back until the 60th over, took up a central role in the attack for the final session, serving up 16 overs before stumps and picking off two priceless wickets in the process. On 32, Patidar failed to smother a top-spinning legbreak that rolled down the face of his bat and back into his stumps, and with the shadows lengthening, KS Bharat rocked back on a limp cut and gave his own innings away for 17.
By then, Bashir had already claimed his second, and in similar circumstances too, as Axar Patel - India's key allrounder in Ravindra Jadeja's absence - failed to get on top of his own cut to pick out Rehan at backward point.
But thankfully for India, nothing could slow down Jaiswal, whose wagon-wheel revealed shots all round the ground, but whose command in front of square was exceptional. One six off Rehan, a gallop to the pitch from round the wicket and an inside-out drill over extra cover, defied geometry.
He had a couple of near-misses on the cut - Root twice got fingertips to tough chances - and a handful of wild hacks against Bashir that nearly cost him, but the bravery to take the game on was precisely what India had lacked at the key moments in the first Test. Whether he's yet done enough to cover for his off-colour team-mates, however, remains to be seen.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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