Afternoon Voice

Vihari’s half-century on debut keeps India in contention

Hanuma Vihari scored a half-century on debut as India reached 240 for seven at lunch on day three of the fifth Test against England at the Oval on Sunday.

At the break, Ravindra Jadeja was unbeaten on 41 runs with Ishant Sharma (1) for company, as the visitors trailed by 92 runs.

Starting from overnight 174 for six, Vihari and Jadeja looked to bat for time and dig India out of the precarious position they found themselves in.

James Anderson (2-30) and Stuart Broad (1-45) bowled a threatening first spell, but both batsmen played watchfully and with patience. There were a couple edges, though they didn’t go to hand or fell short.

Runs started trickling in as India scored 33 runs in the first hour of play. 200 came up in the 63rd over, with the duo adding 50 runs for their seventh-wicket partnership off 117 balls.

Jadeja started taking a few more liberties with his stroke making, while Vihari stayed calm and looked to score when the opportunity presented itself. In the 71st over, England reviewed a caught behind decision against Jadeja, but there was no edge.

Vihari (56) then reached his maiden Test fifty off 104 balls, justifying the decision to include him ahead of Karun Nair.

Just when it appeared that he would take India to lunch without any loss, Moeen Ali (1-40) struck against the run of play and dismissed Vihari. The batsman reviewed, but DRS didn’t prove conclusively if he did not edge behind, as the bat seemed to hit pad the same time as the ball.

Vihari and Jadeja added 77 runs in all, as India scored 66-1 in this first session of play.

On day one, India reduced to England to 198 for seven, and they finished at 332 on day two, thanks to Jos Buttler’s 89.

England have already taken an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series, with wins in Birmingham, Lord’s and Southampton. India won the third Test at Nottingham.