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India v England: Liam Dawson and Adil Rashid make half-centuries in Chennai


Liam Dawson

Liam Dawson became the first England number eight to make a score higher than 60 on his Test debut

Debutant Liam Dawson made 66 not out and Adil Rashid 60 to ensure England did not waste a good position on day two of the fifth Test against India.

From 284-4 overnight, England lost Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali, who departed for 146, to slip to 321-7.

But Dawson and Rashid added 108, an England best for the eighth wicket in India, to see the tourists to 477.

India, who have won the series 3-0, moved to 60-0, 417 adrift, with KL Rahul on 30 and Parthiv Patel 28.

The home side’s serene progress on a placid surface served to highlight how difficult it will be for England to force a consolation victory.

Indeed, with a spin attack that has been outbowled by India’s throughout the series, their score may prove to be little more than par, especially with an innings defeat after making 400 in the fourth Test still fresh in the mind.

Dawson delights on debut

Dawson, 26, was only added to the England squad after the third Test as a replacement for the injured Zafar Ansari.

Primarily called up for his left-arm spin, the right-hander usually bats in the middle order for Hampshire and has eight first-class centuries.

After a nervy start that saw him struck on the helmet by Umesh Yadav and offer a leading edge just out of reach of Ravichandran Ashwin, Dawson showed composure, solid defence and sound judgement, as well as taking opportunities to score through the off side.

His only blemish was a mix-up that resulted in the run-out of Stuart Broad, but a six soon after off Ashwin that was carried to the mid-wicket rope by sub fielder Axar Patel took him past the 59 made by David Bairstow against India at The Oval in 1979.

Runs at last from Rashid

Like Dawson, Rashid has a first-class batting record that compares to the majority of his England team-mates, but had made only one previous Test half-century and contributed just 51 runs in seven innings in this series.

He arrived when England had lost three wickets for 44 runs – Stokes was tempted to edge Ashwin in the first over of the day, Buttler played across Ishant Sharma to be lbw and Moeen, who added 26 to his overnight 120, loosely fell into Umesh’s short-ball trap.

Initially supportive of Dawson – he scored only 13 from his first 77 balls – Rashid gradually took over the role of aggressor, wristily playing beautiful whips through mid-wicket and inside-out drives through the covers.

It was the intent to score that proved his downfall, a flat-footed waft at Umesh resulting in an edge behind.

India avoid late problems

After taking early wickets, India may have hoped to be batting by about lunchtime, only to complete more than five sessions in the field by the time England were bowled out after tea.

Fatigue, scoreboard pressure and the loss of opener Murali Vijay to a shoulder injury was a potential recipe for late casualties, yet Rahul and emergency partner Parthiv were untroubled for 20 overs.

England’s bowling was tidy, but the pace bowlers were offered no assistance and the spinners – including Dawson’s first over in Test cricket – were only afforded sluggish, unthreatening turn.

With India captain Virat Kohli and his 640 series runs still to come, the likelihood is the visitors face a long day in the field on Sunday.