Ind vs Eng 1st Test, Day 3 – Stumps: 257/6: Rishabh Pant’s beautiful edge-of-the-seat hitting ended with his now customary indiscretion, putting India under the pump against a supremely confident England gunning for victory at the end of third day’s play in the opening Test here on Sunday.
At stumps, India were 257 for 6 in reply to England’s massive first innings score of 578 with 122 runs still needed to avoid the follow-on after Pant (91 off 88 balls) and Cheteshwar Pujara (73 off 143 balls) added 119 runs for the fifth wicket.
Washington Sundar (33 batting, 68 balls), primarily a batsman converted into specialist off-spinner, was trying to make amends for his poor show with the ball in company of Ravichandran Ashwin (8 batting, 54 balls), who is never tired of a good on-field scrap, at stumps.
With a couple of days’ play still left, it will be interesting to see if England team management decides to give its bowlers some respite if it gets a chance to enforce the follow-on.
The day belonged to the current toast of the Indian team, Pant, who smashed five towering sixes — all in the arc between long-on and deep mid-wicket off left-arm spinner Jack Leach (17-2-94-0). Leach didn’t exactly know what had hit him.
Sourav Ganguly treated left-arm spinners with disdain but what Pant showed on Sunday was more of pure, unadulterated contempt.
Leach wanted to target the rough outside Pant’s off-stump but every time he tossed it up, the stocky man from Rourkee came out like a raging bull who had been shown the red rag and hit the spinner with the turn into the Chepauk stands.
He dazzled with his brilliance and then in an annoying manner, forgot that discretion is always the better part of valour while trying to hit off-spinner Dom Bess (23-5-55-4) over extra cover against the spin.
This was after dispatching England’s most successful bowler to the square leg boundary.
And he found the only man stationed at the deep extra cover — none other than Leach, who latched onto it as if his life depended on it.
It was an innings that can evoke different emotions depending on one’s own perception of Pant.
A Pant fan who loves his craft will feel an overriding sense of joy and exhilaration just seeing him hit Leach for four sixes few minutes after India were down and out at 73 for 4. Or just smack James Anderson through the cover region.
If one is talking about a Test cricket fan then exasperation can take over just thinking about the possibilities had he decided to exercise some caution. Pant has quite literally thrown away Test hundreds four times in his short career.
But then that’s Pant. There won’t be any middle path and perhaps the Indian team management will now try to mould itself rather than trying to change him which obviously didn’t work for both parties.
Just like they don’t want to change Cheteshwar Pujara, whose 73 off 143 balls over nearly four hours, was in complete contrast to Pant’s pyrotechnics.
The Indian team’s ‘PPP’ model — the ‘Pant-Pujara Partnership’ worked and even more so because the senior player was dispatching those boundary balls during their 119 runs stand in just over 24 overs.
But then Virat Kohli, who looked a touch dejected in the end, wouldn’t mind if Pant’s shot had sailed into the stands. Pujara’s pull had bounced off Ollie Pope stationed at forward short leg off Bess only to lob into the waiting hands of Rory Burns.
Bess easily impressed as he got the ball to dip and drift, something that worked for him while outfoxing Virat Kohli (11), who was caught at forward short leg.
Ajinkya Rahane (1) was brilliantly caught by Joe Root when a full toss dipped on him at the final moment. This was after Rohit Sharma (6) and Shubman Gill (29 off 28 balls) were dismissed by Jofra Archer (16-3-52-2).
INDIA 1ST INNINGS
c †Buttler b Archer
c Anderson b Archer
c Burns b Bess
Virat Kohli (c)
c Pope b Bess
c Root b Bess
Rishabh Pant †
c Leach b Bess
(74 Ov, RR: 3.47)
Yet to bat: Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem
Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Rohit Sharma, 3.3 ov), 2-44 (Shubman Gill, 9.2 ov), 3-71 (Virat Kohli, 24.4 ov), 4-73 (Ajinkya Rahane, 26.3 ov), 5-192 (Cheteshwar Pujara, 50.4 ov), 6-225 (Rishabh Pant, 56.4 ov)
At the tea break, India’s score reads 154/4, trailing the visitors by 424 runs. For the hosts, Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara are currently unbeaten on 54 and 53 respectively. The second session on day three saw 95 runs being scored in 27 overs. Resuming the second session on day three at 59/2, India was not able to score free-flowing runs and both Kohli and Pujara were bogged down and this brought about Kohli’s (11) dismissal in the 25th over of the innings. The Indian skipper was sent back to the pavilion by Dom Bess and this wicket brought Ajinkya Rahane to the middle.
Rahane (1) failed to leave a mark as he was dismissed by Bess and this dismissal left the hosts staring down the barrel at 73/4. However, the credit for Rahane’s dismissal goes completely to skipper Joe Root as he took a stunning catch. Rahane stepped out of his crease and he drove the ball to the left of the cover, but Root dived with his hand outstretched and he grabbed the ball with his left hand.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Pant then joined Pujara in the middle and the duo ensured that the hosts did not lose more wickets in the second session. Pant took a special liking to Jack Leach and the left-handed batsman registered four sixes against him. Pant and Pujara have extended their partnership to 81 runs.
Earlier in the first session on day three, Rohit Sharma (6) and Shubman Gill (29) failed to get going as they were dismissed by Jofra Archer after England posted a total of 578.
At the lunch break on day three, India’s score read 59/2. For the hosts, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli were unbeaten on 20 and 4 respectively. The first session on day three saw 82 runs being scored in 24.1 overs.
On day two of the ongoing first Test, skipper Joe Root registered a double-ton and he became the first player to score a double century in his 100th Test. Root was finally sent back to the pavilion after playing a knock of 218 by Shahbaz Nadeem.
Brief Scores: England 578; India 154/4 (Rishabh Pant 54*, Cheteshwar Pujara 53*, Dominic Bess 2-27)