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England in driver’s seat in first India Test

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RAJKOT: Teenage debutant Haseeb Hameed struck his maiden half-century as England took firm control on the fourth day of the first Test against India in Rajkot on Saturday.

Hameed was unbeaten on 62 with skipper Alastair Cook on 46, the duo taking England’s lead to 163 at the Saurashtra Cricket Association ground, hosting its first Test ever.

At stumps, England were 114-0 in their second innings in reply to India’s 488 all out.

With three sessions to go on a batsman-friendly wicket, England put themselves in a position to dictate terms to their top-ranked rivals.

Hameed, watched by his Indian-born father in the stands, batted confidently, hitting five fours and a six during his 141-minute stay at the wicket.

The home side owed much to Ravichandran Ashwin, who struck a crucial half-century to restrict India’s first-innings deficit to 49 runs.

Ashwin, who came in to bat when the hosts were placed on a shaky 349 for five, made 70 off 139 balls.

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 frustrate the visitors who posted 537 in their first knock, their third highest total in the country, thanks to centuries from Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes.

Ashwin completed his seventh Test half-century in the process, underlining once again his 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.

It was also the last time that a visiting team took a first-innings lead in a Test in India.

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