Rajkot: All-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin struck a crucial half-century before England bowled out India for 488 on the fourth day of the first Test in Rajkot on Saturday.
Ashwin, who came in to bat when the hosts were placed on a shaky 349 for five, made 70 off 139 balls to restrict England’s first-innings lead to 49 runs.
With only four sessions to go in the Test, the match appeared headed for a draw unless the visitors suffer sudden batting collapse on a wicket that had little to offer to the bowlers.
Adil Rashid took 4-114 to emerge as the most successful bowler while his spin partner Zafar Ansari picked 2-77.
Ashwin shepherded the tail to add 139 runs to the Indian total and frustrate the visitors who posted 537 in their first knock, their third highest total in the country.
Ashwin, who disappointed with the ball during England’s innings, completed his seventh Test half-century in the process, underlining once again his key all-round skills.
When England last toured India in 2012, Ashwin had proved to be a thorn in their flesh, averaging over 60 with the bat.
He hit Adil Rashid for a delectable boundary before Mohammed Shami added some entertainment in the otherwise dour proceedings with a huge six in the same over.
India lost Wriddhiman Saha (35) soon after the lunch session which saw India add 77 runs while losing three more wickets.
Local hero Ravindra Jadeja (12) ballooned a simple catch to Test debutant Haseeb Hameed off Rashid while Umesh Yadav (five) was brilliantly caught by a diving Ben Stokes off the same bowler.
The morning session saw India losing in-form skipper Virat Kohli to a freak dismissal when the batsman was on 40.
Kohli’s back leg hit the stumps and dislodged a bail as he tried to pull away a short delivery from Rashid.
He became the second Indian skipper to be hit-wicket after Lala Amarnath in the 1948-49 series at home against the West Indies.
The Indian skipper was also out in a similar fashion in a one-day international against England in Cardiff in 2011.
India, 319-4 overnight, started the day cautiously with Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane (13) not taking any unnecessary risks against a disciplined England attack.
But they were quick to latch on to poor deliveries with Rahane imperiously pulling a short ball from Chris Woakes to the square leg fence.
Rahane’s flourish, however, proved short-lived as he lost his stumps to rookie left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari (2-77) after completely misjudging the length.
But it was the dismissal of Kohli who has scored two Test double centuries this year which hit India the hardest.
The otherwise prolific Kohli had been keen to improve his dismal average against England but failed to build on his good start. He hit five fours in his 95-ball knock.