May 24, 2024

England's hopes fade as India extend their lead beyond 400 runs

England were powerless to prevent India extending their lead past 400 runs, and Ravichandran Ashwin's imminent return for the third Test is set to add an extra layer of difficulty to the tourists' hopes.

India reached lunch on 314 for four as they extended an overnight lead from 322 to 440 on the penultimate day in Rajkot, as England appeared to be running out of ideas under a blazing sun.

The hosts are likely to make that announcement sometime in the afternoon as they bid for a 2-1 lead in the five-match series, and their bid will be boosted by Ashwin's return to the fold at some point.

Ashwin, India's main spinner, withdrew from the Test on Friday night to deal with a family medical emergency but it was announced that he would return on Sunday afternoon and be available immediately.

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Indian Shubman Gill dives to reach the crease to no avail (Ajit Solanki/AP)

His absence effectively leaves India down to 10 players as he can only be replaced on the field and not with bat or ball although England's batting collapse means they have a first innings deficit of 126.

Yashasvi Jaiswal then made 104 before retiring hurting on the third night despite returning to his place after England made their only breakthrough in the first hour when Shubman Gill was run out for 91.

Gill drove from the non-striker's end only to be sent back by night-watcher Kuldeep Yadav and not even a desperate dive was enough as Tom Hartley took out the bails after Ben Stokes' sharp throw.

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Up to that point, it had been a frustrating morning for England, underscored by the failure to leg review before Kuldeep Yadav, who miscued a sweep to Hartley.

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Jill ran out for 91 (Ajit Solanki/AP)

England had been down to just one review, having already rejected a review on the back-handed batsman who averaged just 10 earlier in the session, but they have now missed three referrals in this Test.

The miss didn't matter as Yadav failed to add to his 27 before he edged Rehan Ahmed to Joe Root. There was no celebration and the referees had to send the decision upstairs to confirm the ejection.

This brought together Jaiswal and Sarfaraz Khan, two of India's top batsmen, and the duo looked completely untroubled, each smashing Root over the leg-side boundary in one stroke.

Jaiswal was on 149 not out at lunch with debutant Sarfaraz on an unbeaten 22 off just 23 balls.