Hardik Pandya’s half-century with vital contributions from the lower order helped India post 474 against Afghanistan in the one-off Test at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore on Friday (June 15).
India began the second day on 347 for 6 and were bowled out for 474 by lunch, with Pandya making 71 off 94 balls to add to the centuries by Shikhar Dhawan and M Vijay on the first day.
The game was decently balanced when the day started: India were ahead, but Afghanistan had momentum by their side after a good final session on the first day.
A couple of quick wicket could have given them a serious lift, but that wasn’t to be. Hardik Pandya and R Ashwin started steadily in the first few overs, before Ashwin nicked one to Afsar Zazai, the wicketkeeper, to give Yamin Ahmadzai his third wicket.
Afghanistan, however, failed to capitalise. Ahmadzai should have had another wicket the very next ball but Zazai put down a regulation chance to give Ravindra Jadeja a reprieve. It allowed India to stitch together a partnership, which took the score beyond 400.
It was Pandya who was at the fore of India’s charge. He did it in an uncharacteristic fashion; he took his time in the initial phase and then ticked along gradually. There was no counter-attack or fancy strokes, but he did the job that was required at that stage.
Pandya also ensured he didn’t get bogged down at any stage. He even hit Rashid Khan for three boundaries in an over, but none of them were rash strokes. There was a well-placed cut, and two lovely drives down the ground. His first shot in anger fetched him his half-century when he swept Mohammad Nabi to the deep square-leg ropes.
He switched gears slightly after the landmark, and was also aided by some sloppy Afghanistan fielders who conceded plenty of overthrows. Meanwhile at the other end, Jadeja looked to settle in after the early reprieve and gave Pandya decent company. The partnership reached 67 before Jadeja lost patience and lofted Nabi to long-off, trying to repeat an earlier six down the ground.
Soon, Pandya was caught behind off Wafadar, trying to ramp the medium pacer over the keeper.
India were nine down but were not down. Umesh Yadav decided to throw his bat around, smashing two sixes and a four in a 21-run over off Wafadar. Rashid then dismissed Ishant Sharma for his second wicket, ending the 34-run stand for the last wicket.