Haseeb Hameed gives England upper hand in Rajkot

Makes maiden Test 50 after Rashid bowls tourists into first innings lead against India

A breakthrough performance each from Haseeb Hameed and Adil Rashid featured heavily as England earned a secure position on day four in the first Test against India.

Hameed’s unbeaten 62 has come in only the 19-year-old’s second innings at the highest level, on debut, in a total of 114 for none which gives England the freedom to decide whether to settle for safety or push for a possible victory in Rajkot.

Rashid’s figures of four for 114 are not his best and have not arrived until his sixth, spread over the past 13 months, and at the age of 28.

Even so, there were indications in his mature use of conditions that in his 31 overs here he showed more than previously of what England need from him.


Assistant coach Paul Farbrace spoke the previous evening of the benefit Rashid has derived from the input of spin-bowling consultant Saqlain Mushtaq in preparation for this match.

The Yorkshireman himself confirmed he senses a foothold in Test cricket these days.

"The more you play, the more comfortable you feel," said Rashid, who explained the specifics of the help he has had from former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain.

“I’ve been working a lot more on setting fields, working on gameplans, how to get batsmen out in these conditions.

“Obviously the pace is key, that I’m comfortable at and spins the ball the most ... and gives the batsmen trouble.

“That’s crucial — maintaining that, believing that and being confident in it.”

The presence of two fellow spinners in England’s team, Moeen Ali and Zafar Ansari, was another reassurance.

“Bowling in partnership with Moeen helped me a lot as well,” added Rashid.

“I’ve done a lot of hard work in the nets, knowing what I need to practise.

“It’s knowing the pace of the wicket, the (right) length and line (for it) and field settings — and in this game, it’s worked out pretty well.”

As for Hameed, watched from the stands by his proud parents in what was once his father’s home state as he passed an impressive first Test 50, Rashid believes the Lancastrian teenager has much going for him.

It was a measure of Hameed’s innings that he was a more convincing presence almost throughout England’s unbroken century opening stand than his hugely-experienced and successful captain Alastair Cook at the other end.

Rashid said: “He’s got a good head; he’s a clever and solid boy, works hard in the nets — and he’s a great talent.

“He showed that today, and we hope he can carry that on tomorrow.

“He’s very calm, a very organised cricketer as well, and he’s got a good sense of humour.

“I think he’s fitted very well into the dressing-room, and we hope he can carry that on for many more years to come.”

It did not take long for Rashid, when he came up against Hameed in Roses opposition last summer, to realise the opener had a bright future.

“He played seam exceptionally well and also spin very well, using his feet,” he added.

“So I wasn’t surprised at all how he came out and played here. He works hard, and is very clued-up.”

India opener Murali Vijay, one of the hosts' two centurions in this match before Ravi Ashwin further reduced their first-innings deficit with a defiant 70 out of 488 all out, was another impressed by Hameed.

“He’s a pretty good talent,” said Vijay.

“He’s solid and he has a calm head. Those are good signs for a cricketer, so he has a good future.”

England have had to battle mighty hard with bat and ball to reach a point — 163 runs in front with all wickets standing — at which they ought to be able to dictate the remainder of this match.

Vijay nonetheless has not given up on what appears at this stage the least likely of all results — a home win.

He said: “There is a lot of help for the spinners, so we believe we can put some pressure on in the morning session and get a few wickets — and you never know.

“We still have a chance. If we can get three or four quick wickets, maybe in the last session we can score around 200 runs and go for it.”