England fight back in second test, take three Indian wickets; Rohit Sharma hits 161

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CHENNAI: India lost three wickets in the final session but was still in a strong position at 300-6 at stumps on the first day of the second test against England on Saturday.

Rohit Sharma (161) scored his seventh test century and put on 162 runs with Ajinkya Rahane (67) for the fourth wicket. Both batsmen were dismissed after tea as England fought back.

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Rishabh Pant (33) and Axar Patel (5) are the batters at the crease.

Rahane brought up his 23rd test half-century off 104 balls. Sharma was motoring along at the other end, crossing 150 off 208 deliveries.

Sharma was out against the run of play, caught at backward square leg as he went for an aerial sweep against Jack Leach.

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Sharma faced 231 balls, hitting 18 fours and two sixes.

Rahane survived a dubious DRS call, which was later reversed. He didn’t survive for too long afterward, bowled by the recalled Moeen Ali (2-112).

Pant and Ravichandran Ashwin (13) then added 35 runs for the sixth wicket. England captain Joe Root dismissed Ashwin late in the final session.

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Pant was his usual aggressive self, hitting five fours and a six so far.

Earlier, Sharma had anchored the Indian innings in the middle session. He and Rahane made sure that India didn’t lose a wicket after being reduced to 106-3 at lunch.

He reached his century off 130 balls before tea.

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India won the toss and opted to bat. Opener Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli were both dismissed for ducks as England took the initial upper hand. Kohli went without scoring after Ali spun one sharply, with the Indian skipper appearing shocked at his dismissal.

India made three changes to its side. Fit-again left-arm spinner Axar Patel replaced Shahbaz Nadeem and Kuldeep Yadav came in for Washington Sundar as the hosts attempted to shore up their middle-order batting. Jasprit Bumrah was rested and Mohammed Siraj replaced him.

England made four changes to its side which won the first test by 277 runs. Fast bowler James Anderson has been rested, while Jofra Archer was ruled out with an elbow injury sustained in the previous game. Pace bowlers Stuart Broad and Olly Stone came into the side.

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Off-spinner Dominic Bess was dropped, despite taking 4-55 in the first innings of the first test. Spin-bowling all-rounder Ali took over those duties along with left-armer Leach.

Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes was England’s fourth change. He replaces Jos Buttler, who has been rested for the remaining three tests and returns home.

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association is allowing 50% crowd attendance at the 50,000-capacity M.A. Chidambaram Stadium for the second test.

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Long queues were seen prior to the game as fans turned up in large number to redeem paper tickets and vouchers. The host association has put in stringent protocols for fans inside the venue, including sanitizing the ball whenever it is hit into the stands.

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