The scoreboard read a solid 148/2 and India had their two most successful batsmen of the series Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in the middle. It was the 52nd over – the first after Tea – of the innings and Adil Rashid was operating with the ball for England. He bowled a poor delivery – a juicy half-tracker – and Pujara’s eyes lit up. He had made most of opportunities like these in the series but it wasn’t the case on Day 2 of the third Test. The right-hander went after it but didn’t get the distance he would have hoped for. Chris Woakes, manning the ropes on the leg-side, covered good ground and got down in time to take a sharp, low catch. Pujara stood still, umpires went upstairs and India’s no.3 had to walk back after a solid fifty, and an equally solid 75-run stand with skipper Virat Kohli.
Pujara’s wicket triggered a collapse, a collapse which put India on the mat in less than five overs after the Tea interval. Ajinkya Rahane, who has had a quiet series so far, extended the silence after he was trapped in front by a Rashid googly. The right-hander failed to pick that one and was hit in line of the stumps. Rahane went for the review but it turned out to be an easy call for the third-umpire who stayed with the on-field call. From 148/2, India were reduced to 152/4 in no time and Kohli wore a worried look in the middle as he saw wickets tumble from the other end. The scoreboard slipped further when debutant Karun Nair was run-out after both Kohli and Nair were engaged in a ball-watching session. Kohli pushed one to backward-point, took two-three steps, Nair committed but none called. The debutant turned back to make ground at the non-striker’s end but Jos Buttler’s neat pick-up and an accurate throw found him short of ground. India, at that stage, had a lot to worry about with the scoreboard reading a 156/5.
R Ashwin walked out to the middle and injected urgency into the innings with a brisk start. England were guilty of releasing the pressure after three quick wickets. Both Ashwin and Kohli added 48 runs, and the skipper completed yet another half-century in the format. After leaving deliveries outside his off-stump all day, Kohli was out poking at the Ben Stokes delivery. Jonny Bairstow completed a regulation catch and England, again, had their tails up with the prized scalp. At 204/6, India were still 79 behind England and there was not much batting to follow. Onus was on the spin-twins to deliver, with the bat, and they didn’t disappoint.
Spin-twins deliver with the bat
While Ashwin continued to operate in positive fashion, Jadeja was watchful to start but changed gears towards the fag end of the day’s play. Both were happy to survive the seam show and collected their runs were spinners operated. When England took the new ball, Ashwin hit a couple of beautiful boundaries to bring up his fifty, fifty crucial runs under pressure. The straight-drive off Anderson was as good as you would like, and it attracted a loud applause from batting coach Sanjay Bangar.
The best applause however was reserved for Jadeja, and it came from the skipper himself. Rashid pitched a couple of deliveries up, and Jadeja had no problem in collecting four and a six off them. Kohli was up on his feet after the boundary, and clapped aggressively after the left-hander cleared the ropes with ease. India ended the day’s play at 271/6, 12 runs behind England, and would be pleased with the effort after the mid-innings collapse.
England on the other hand would feel frustrated after they put India on the mat early in the final session. Yes, India were guilty of throwing a couple of wickets away but full marks to England for their disciplined effort with the ball. James Anderson and Chris Woakes were not among the wickets but the seamers tested India batsmen with their lines outside the off-stump. Rashid was rewarded for the effort put in by the seamers as the Indians looked to score against the leggie, and were dismissed trying to do so.
Not only with the ball, England would have liked some fight from the tail as they managed to score only 15 runs to their overnight total. Only 17 separate 300 and 283 but the former is always makes a good a read on the scoreboard.