Hardik Pandya blended temperament with a touch of aggression to compile a superbly paced 71 as India found themselves in command (474 all out) versus Afghanistan at Lunch on Day 2 of the one-off Test played in Bengaluru, on Friday (June 15).
At the start of the day, Afghanistan would have hoped to pick up the last four wickets as quickly as possible and wrap up the innings. However, despite the presence of early morning moisture, the tourists decided not to opt for the second new ball. It allowed Hardik and R Ashwin to calmly rotate the strike and stitch a useful stand of 34. Hardik also played with a fair amount of flair when presented with the loose ball on offer, evidenced by the three boundaries he cracked off Rashid Khan in the 89th over.
Eventually, Ahmadzai broke the threatening stand by removing Ashwin, with the batsman under-edging it behind the stumps. Ahmadzai could have also made another incision only for Afsar Zazai, the ‘keeper, to grass the opportunity, with Jadeja being the lucky batsman. It was a fine delivery that nipped away from the left-handed batsman to produce the edge but couldn’t get the reward for it.
Jadeja took advantage of the let-off as he strung together another crucial stand to put the visitors under even more pressure. By then, Hardik had decided to move into another gear as he crunched a couple of drives off Rashid. Jadeja followed his batting partner by charging down the track to loft Nabi into the long-on stands. Hardik, who reached his fifty, with a slog sweep off Nabi, then clouted Wafadar for a couple of fours. The Test debutants seemed listless in the field and the point can be encapsulated by the overthrows that resulted in five runs in the same over bowled by Wafadar.
Afghanistan desperately needed a wicket and they got one with Jadeja mistiming a loft off Nabi to Rahmat Shah. In an attempt to add as many runs as possible, Hardik too perished. Unfortunately for Afghanistan, their hopes of bundling out the opposition quickly were dashed by Umesh Yadav. The tailender employed his long handle to club Wafadar for two sixes and a boundary. Finally, Rashid ended India’s innings by removing Ishant Sharma LBW.
At 280 for 1, India looked set to compose a massive score but the credit has to go to Afghanistan’s bowlers for persevering and they were duly rewarded with the wickets. Ahmadzai was the best bowler on show for the visitors, bagging three wickets. Rashid, though, was disappointing, returning figures of 2 for 154.
Brief scores: India 474 (Shikhar Dhawan 107, Murali Vijay 105, Hardik Pandya 71; Yamin Ahmadzai 3-51) vs Afghanistan.
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