The third day’s play in Mumbai began with England handing the ball to their least experienced seamer – Jake Ball. But did not mean he won’t deliver. On the second ball of the day, Ball knocked out Cheteshwar Pujara’s stumps and gave England the early breakthrough they needed. Pujara was out for his overnight score of 47.
The almost full Wankhede stadium cheered as Virat Kohli walked out to bat. And they cheered louder when he walked back to the pavillion, unbeaten on 147 at close of play on day three of the fourth Test against England.
India were 451 for the loss of seven wickets at stumps and have taken a 51 run lead over England, a lead that puts them in the driver’s seat in the Test.
With a wicket falling on the first over of the day, India should have been cautious on a pitch that is supposed to be turning and bouncing. But they didn’t.
Murali Vijay cracked some beautiful boundaries to bring up his eighth Test hundred and silenced his critics, who questioned his form after the Mohali Test. Kohli was ecstatic for him.
And by the time Vijay fell for 136 to Adil Rashid, he had already added 116 runs with Kohli. He hit a low full-toss straight back to Rashid. Kohli had not reached his fifty by then.
Karun Nair was the new man in for India but his stay was cut short when England reviewed successfully an on-field decision. That triggered a mini-collapse.
Parthiv Patel fell to part-timer Joe Root caught behind and in his second over, Root had Ashwin caught at short-leg. India’s score read 307 for the loss of six wickets then.
Ravindra Jadeja then joined Kohli in the middle and shared a 57-run stand for the seventh wicket. But then Jadeja lost his concentration and tried to hit Rashid over the ropes, only to sky it.
Kohli was then joined by Jayant Yadav in the middle and both shared an unbeaten 87-run stand as ended at 451/7. Jayant and Kohli both got a chance each as Root dropped the former off James Anderson while Rashid put down the Indian captain off his own bowling.
Kohli, who also passed 1,000 Test runs in 2016 and 4,000 in his career, also became the leading run scorer in international cricket in the this year.
With two day’s play left in the match and India still having three wickets in hand, England will have problems setting a big target for India.