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IND Vs ENG, 3rd Test: Rohit-Jadeja Tons, Sarfaraz Fifty Put India Ahead On Day 1

Debutant Sarfaraz Khan's sparkling half-century topped off captain Rohit Sharma and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja's patient hundreds. India piled on 326 runs for the loss of five wickets on Day 1 of the third Test against England

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Ravindra Jadeja plays a shot on the first day of the third cricket Test match between England and India in Rajkot. Photo: AP/Ajit Solanki
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Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja made classical Test match hundreds while debutant Sarfaraz Khan announced his arrival on the big stage with a fluent half-century as India reached 326 for five at stumps on day one of the third Test against England here on Thursday. (Streaming | Cricket News)

With India reduced to 33 for three inside the first hour of play, Rohit (131 off 196) and Jadeja (110 batting off 212) steered the ship through choppy waters with a 204-run partnership.

After the pair was separated, Sarfaraz (62 off 66) scored the joint fastest fifty by an Indian on debut to push India past the 300-run mark.

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Jadeja was batting with nightwatchman Kuldeep Yadav (1 batting) at close of play.

In batting friendly conditions, the home team will be looking get near the 500-run mark on day two.

For England, fast bowler Mark Wood (3/69) vindicated his selection as England’s second pacer with a two-wicket burst in the morning, accounting for Yashasvi Jaiswal (10) and Shubman Gill (0), while spinner Tom Hartley (1/81) got the better of Rajat Patidar (5) to leave India tottering.

Jaiswal was caught in the slips by Joe Root while Gill looked susceptible against the moving ball. After beating Gill on the inside edge, Wood found an outside edge to send back India’s No 3 for a nine-ball duck.

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Patidar was outdone by a ball from Hartley that neither spun sharply nor bounced unevenly but seemed to have slowed off the surface. Patidar was unable to control his shot as the ball simply ballooned towards short cover for a regulation catch.

The pressure on the Indian camp was palpable and the team management opted for a safer route by holding Sarfaraz back and promote Jadeja at No 5 — a spot where he has batted at in only five out of his 70 Tests yet.

What transpired after the first hour calmed all the nerves in the dressing room as senior pros Rohit and Jadeja recorded only the third double-century partnership for India against England in 135 Tests.

With 204 runs for the fourth wicket, Rohit and Jadeja joined the esteemed company of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly (249 vs England at Leeds in August 2002) and Vijay Hazare and Vijay Manjrekar (222 vs England at Leeds in June 1952) for having put on more than 200 against the Englishmen.

It was also the highest partnership between Rohit and Jadeja in an under-transition Indian side as well as their second in triple figures, having put on 100 for the sixth wicket against New Zealand at Kanpur in September 2016.

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As if he had saved his best in the series for this day, Rohit was unhurried and completely assured in the middle, producing a knock that was in complete contrast of his recent approach.

Rohit brought up his 11th Test ton shortly after play resumed in the final session and looked set for a long haul.

With Wood returning for another barrage of short balls amid a packed leg-side field, Rohit’s timing went awry as he looked to work the ball.

A top edge settled into the hands of England captain Ben Stokes, who was ultimately rewarded for his out of the box field settings.

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Nevertheless, the Indian captain walked off having done his job of rebuilding the innings.

The timing for his maiden Test outing was perfect for Sarfaraz, who unleashed his array of strokes — powerful sweep shots and lofted drives over the in field — to race to a maiden half-century, which came off just 48 balls and included seven fours and a six.

In fact, Jadeja was 15 runs short of his ton when Sarfaraz walked out to bat and when the senior batter reached his triple-figure mark, the youngster was already in his 60s.

Jadeja eventually brought up his fourth Test hundred and a second consecutive at his homeground here, but not before Sarfaraz was tragically run out following a mix-up with the southpaw.

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