England take five but India push towards ominous 400-run lead

India continued their stride towards victory in this second Test as they moved their lead to 351 on the third morning. Thanks to a 50 run partnership from 71 deliveries between Virat Kohli (38 not out) and Ravichandran Ashwin (34*), 102 were added in the opening session. 

Their stand for the seventh wicket came in the face of some good pressure from England, who kept focus on the matter at hand despite the ominous overnight lead of 249. They plugged away and were deserving of more than the five wickets they managed to take in these 30 overs as India went into the break on 156 for six.

The best of their work came in the first hour of play. Four batsmen were felled before the first drinks break for the addition of 43 as Jack Leach and Moeen Ali kept things tight and let the pitch impart the necessary spice to trouble India’s top order.

The first dismissal, of Cheteshwar Pujara for seven, owed to a sliver of good fortune. Having come down the track to defend Moeen, Ollie Pope gathered the ball at short leg and threw to Ben Foakes behind the stumps to run out the right-hander, who would have made his ground had he not dropped his bat after jarring it into the pitch. 

Leach then got into his work, turning past the edge of Rohit Sharma to get him stumped 26. This time, the right-hander was unable to benefit from the television umpire’s doubt from the first innings with nothing behind the line this time. With that, both overnight batsmen were out for the addition of one run. 

Rishabh Pant (eight) was the next to go, looking to do as he has done against Leach and slog him down the ground, only for bite off the surface to turn through the left-hander for another Foakes stumping. With that, the Surrey wicketkeeper, who is celebrating his 28th birthday, became the first Englishman to register three in a Test since Alan Knott against Australia in July 1968.

Ajinkya Rahane’s wicket would close out the first hour, as Moeen got his first of the second innings. Pope was involved again, this time reacting well as a delivery leapt into bat and pad, requiring a full dive across the pitch to complete the dismissal for 10.

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Despite the procession, India were ticking along. And when Axar Patel became Moeen’s second, struck on the back pad for an LBW, confirmed after the batsman had called for DRS, the lead had stretched to 301. 

That was largely down to Kohli, combatting conditions expertly and putting a bit back on the English spinners. A duck in the first innings brought some tension to his start. But he got off his pair with his 20th delivery faced then set about pouncing on anything slight off. 

With one end settled, Ashwin took it upon himself to swing hard, particularly when sweeping. Such was the 34-year-old’s hurry-up that he went level with Kohli on 30, from 34 balls to his captain’s 74. However, he should have been seen off on 28 when he edged a Stuart Broad leg cutter to Ben Stokes at first slip. 

Perhaps unsighted by Foakes standing up, Stokes could only get his left hand to the ball as the edge flew through to him sharply but at a very catchable height. Broad was particularly exasperated: this being his first over, the 45th of the second innings, after 11 luckless overs in the first. 

The form of Kohli hinted at a particularly ominous afternoon ahead for Joe Root’s charges. He looks in fine fettle and was given a quick fire-up in the last over before lunch when he was warned for running on the pitch. He did not take too kindly to the assertion from umpire Nitin Menon. No doubt he’ll take out that frustration on England’s attack. 

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