India stretch lead after Rohit and Gill depart

Ben Stokes resumed bowling after eight months to take a wicket with his first ball

Rohit Sharma (R) bumps fist with Shubman Gill during the second day of the fifth Test cricket match against England at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on March 8, 2024. (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Pramod Thomas

INDIA lost centurions Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill soon after lunch but stretched their lead to 158 on day two of the fifth and final test against England on Friday (8).

England captain Ben Stokes resumed bowling after eight months to take a wicket with his first ball, and James Anderson inched closer to his 700th test wicket, but India, at 376-3 at tea, looked in control of the match.

Sarfaraz Khan (56) and debutant Devdutt Padikkal (44) have added 97 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket for the hosts, who hold an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series.

India have been in the ascendancy since bowling out England for 218 on the first day at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium.

Overnight batters Rohit and Gill went after the bowlers right from the word go.

The one shot that epitomised their approach was when Gill stepped out against Anderson and hit test cricket’s most successful fast bowler over his head for a six.

Spinner Shoaib Bashir got a flick from Rohit but the ball flew past Zak Crawley before the fielder could even cup his hand.

Rohit took a single off Tom Hartley to bring up his hundred, while Gill slog-swept Bashir for a four in the next over to complete his century.

Stokes, who underwent knee surgery in November, resumed bowling duties with a magical delivery that hit the top of Rohit’s off-stump. Rohit’s mature 103 included three sixes.

Anderson flattened Gill’s off-stump in the next over to claim his 699th test wicket. Gill smacked five sixes in his second hundred of the series.

The collapse England wanted did not materialise as Sarfaraz counter-attacked.

The 26-year-old played an audacious ramp shot against Mark Wood and pulled the fast bowler for a six en route to his third fifty of his debut series.