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Lees leads England run-chase against India

Lees leads England run-chase against India

Lees leads England run-chase against India

Lees leads England run-chase against India. (Credits: Google)

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  • England needs 271 runs to reach a target of 378 set by India.
  • Lees and Zak Crawley set about the chase with relish.
  • This decider should have been played in Manchester last September only to be postponed.
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Alex Lees’ quickfire unbeaten fifty ensured England made a rapid start to their run chase in the delayed fifth Test against India at Edgbaston on Monday.

England were 107-1 in their second innings at tea on the fourth day, needing a further 271 runs to reach a target of 378.

Lees was 56 not out, having shared an exhilarating opening stand of 107 with Zak Crawley in a match England must win to end this five-Test series all square at 2-2.

But the pair, together for fewer than 22 overs, were separated just before the interval when Crawley shouldered arms to a brilliant off-cutter from India stand-in captain Jasprit Bumrah.

Crawley, who has been struggling for runs, had looked in fine touch while hitting seven fours in his 46.

There have been only two successful fourth-innings chases above 200 in a Test at Edgbaston, with South Africa making 283-5 in 2008 and England 211-3 against New Zealand in 1999.

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England, however, reached seemingly stiff targets of 277, 299, and 296 during a recent 3-0 whitewash of Test world champions New Zealand.

Both Cheteshwar Pujara (66) and Rishabh Pant (57) threatened to take India to an impregnable total but each got out when well set, with the tourists losing their last six wickets for 55 runs as they were bowled out for 245.

Lees and Zak Crawley set about the chase with relish.

Left-hander Lees off-drove Mohammed Shami for four, with Crawley whipping Bumrah off his pads for another boundary.

Lees then expertly uppercut third seamer Mohammad Siraj for four and greeted Ravindra Jadeja’s first ball of the day by going down the pitch to drive the left-arm spinner to the boundary.

A forcing shot off Siraj took Lees to a 44-ball fifty with his eighth boundary. As he walked off at tea, Lees was involved in an animated conversation with former India captain Virat Kohli, who’d already been spoken to this match by the umpires after exchanging words with England’s first-innings century-maker Jonny Bairstow.

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India resumed on their overnight 125-3, with Pujara 50 not out and Pant — who made 146 in a first-innings total of 416 — unbeaten on 30.

Pujara had only been recalled to the top of the order after India captain Rohit Sharma and fellow opener KL Rahul were ruled out by Covid-19 and a groin injury respectively.

He looked in fine touch Monday, forcing England great James Anderson off the back foot through point and clipping him off his pads for two well-struck fours.

But the 34-year-old’s four-hour innings ended when he cut Stuart Broad straight to Lees at backward point.

A clearly frustrated Pujara walked off, having now gone 50 innings since his last Test century — 193 against Australia at Sydney in January 2019.

Pant was dropped on 45 when Crawley failed to hold a tough chance diving to his left at second slip before a leg-glanced four off Broad, his seventh boundary in 76 balls, took him to his fifty.

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But Pant fell when a miscued reverse sweep off left-arm spinner Jack Leach was caught by Joe Root at slip, with England captain Ben Stokes mopping up the tail on his way to 4-33 in 11.5 overs.

This decider should have been played in Manchester last September only to be postponed just hours before the start because of coronavirus concerns within the India camp.

 

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