The fourth Test against England is the biggest in Virat Kohli’s captaincy, with the series on the line at 1-2 with a game left. But the Day 3 Ageas Bowl pitch was dry, played considerably slow as the sun beat down and England batsmen showed great application to take a firm grip on the Test.
Shared News | Updated: Sep 01, 2018 23:27 IST
England’s Jos Buttler plays a shot off the bowling of India’s Hardik Pandya during play on the third day of the 4th cricket Test.(AP)
Tension etched on his face, Virat Kohli watched with hands on hips as India lost their second review, an appeal for caught behind against Jos Buttler off R Ashwin showing there had been no nick as the visitors had thought.
The fourth Test against England is the biggest in Kohli’s captaincy, with the series on the line at 1-2 with a game left. But the Day 3 Ageas Bowl pitch was dry, played considerably slow as the sun beat down and England batsmen showed great application to take a firm grip on the Test.
England batsmen buckled down to build the lead as threat of seam and swing evaporated an hour into the morning, taking a leaf out of Cheteshwar Pujara’s obdurate batting the previous day for a superb 132 not out. At stumps, England had reached 260/8 in the second innings. The 233-run lead meant India will have to bat out of their skins in the fourth innings if they are to draw level in the series as there is no weather guarantee in this country.
The biggest letdown was Ashwin, who toiled for 35 overs on a pitch thought to be tailormade for him, not taking a wicket until well after tea. Bowling his entire spell from the opposite end, he pushed through deliveries and tried variations but could not exploit the rough at the pavilion end.
India owed it to Mohammed Shami’s brilliant spells (3/53 and Joe Root’s run out) to finish the day only needing to take two wickets with the second new ball less than 10 overs old.
Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma took the first two wickets in the morning, but it was the struggling Alastair Cook (12) and then Moeen Ali, not the prize scalp of Root. The England skipper promoted Moeen, who bats one-drop for Worcestershire and was coming off a double century.
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Moeen made only nine (15 balls), but it allowed Root to come in the 16th over, having been forced until Saturday to virtually face the new ball due to the shaky openers. Five times he had come in before 10 overs, once at 12. It had its effect as he made 48 and raised 59 runs for the third wicket with Keaton Jennings (36).
It took two juggling catches by KL Rahul at second slip to remove Cook and Moeen, and Shami trapped Jennings and bowled Jonny Bairstow (first ball duck) off successive balls either side of lunch. Ishant, after two warnings in the morning for running on to the danger area, bowled only six overs until the second new ball was taken and England’s stone-walling had its effect.
Ashwin’s inability to strike contrasted Moeen’s five-wicket haul on Day 2, frustrating India. Shami provided the breakthrough by handing Root his second run out of the series. But England’s saviours were once again their middle-order batsmen.
Stokes (30 – 110b, 2×4) — like in Trent Bridge — focused on defence while Buttler made a superb 69 (122 b, 164 min, 7×4), raising a 55-run stand with young all-rounder Sam Curran who again frustrated India. Ishant trapped Buttler with the second new ball but England had taken a firm grip. Ashwin got Cook to edge to slip, but was tired bowling a marathon spell. But with no guarantee on weather in England, India batsmen have a massive task ahead.