Pant and Jadeja lead India rescue to 338-7 against England

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BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Rishabh Pant was combative and Ravindra Jadeja composed in leading India's recovery from 98-5 to 338-7 against England on the first day of the series-deciding test at Edgbaston on Friday.

Pant made 146 off 111 balls in a fabulous 222-run sixth-wicket stand with Ravindra Jadeja, who was not out on 83 at stumps.

Pant’s brutal counterattack featured 19 fours and four sixes and ended when he was deceived by Joe Root’s offspin and gave Zak Crawley his third catch in the slips.

Captain Ben Stokes promised the same aggressive approach which helped England sweep New Zealand 3-0 in their test series this week, but the hosts were on the receiving end of a belligerent Pant and Jadeja, who played the anchor role. Their brilliant stand of 222 came off 239 balls.

England took full advantage of winning the toss and opting to bowl in overcast conditions.

Fast bowlers James Anderson and Matthew Potts, with support from luckless Stuart Broad, troubled the India top order and reduced the visitors to 98-5 midway through the second session.

Pant resisted and reached his half-century at the stroke of tea off 51 balls. He raised his third test hundred against England off a mere 89 balls. Pant had sprayed around Edgbaston 15 fours and a six off Jack Leach.

Jadeja proved a perfect foil to Pant’s aggression as the left-handers scored at a healthy run-rate of 4.63.

Pant took charge from the outset and was hardly bothered by the bounce of Potts, and quick to pounce on full-pitched deliveries by Anderson and Broad.

Leach, who took a maiden 10-wicket haul in the last test against the Kiwis, was also not spared as Pant used his feet well against the spinner, who finished the day an expensive 0-71 off nine overs.

This fifth test was postponed a year ago when India, up 2-1 in the series, was stricken by a coronavirus outbreak. The virus hit the team again on the eve of this match when captain Rohit Sharma was ruled out and Jasprit Bumrah became the first fast bowler since Kapil Dev to lead the side as interim skipper.

Anderson and Potts used the new ball effectively on a pitch where the fast bowlers got appreciable bounce.

Opening batters Shubman Gill (17) and Cheteshwar Pujara (13) were worn down by the bowlers' nagging line and length, and Potts extracted lots of bounce.

Gill hit two boundaries in a Broad over, but with the ball zipping and bouncing ominously he finally succumbed to Anderson’s brilliance when he edged to second slip.

Broad came close to his 550th test wicket but Pujara, who replaced Rohit, successfully overturned a caught behind ruling off the DRS. However, Pujara didn’t last long against Anderson’s relentless seam and swing as the fast bowler struck in his second spell when Crawley grabbed a straightforward catch in the slip cordon.

Crawley should have had his third catch, but couldn’t hold onto a sharp one-handed chance off Hanuma Vihari, which could have earned Potts his first wicket.

India lost three more wickets inside six overs after rain delayed post-lunch play for 1 1/2 hours.

Vihari was trapped leg before by Potts on 20 as the ball seamed into the left-hander.

Virat Kohli, on 11, was indecisive against Potts and left the ball which cannoned onto his stumps after hitting the toe end of the bat.

Anderson had Shreyas Iyer out for 15 down the leg side off a short delivery. Wicketkeeper Sam Billings took a brilliant one-handed diving catch.

Anderson had 3-52 and Potts 2-85. Root bagged Pant, and Stokes got an edge off Shardul Thakur just before stumps.

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