England finally encounters resistance from India in 3rd test

·4-min read

LEEDS, England (AP) — After two days of outright domination, England has finally encountered some resistance from India in the third test at Headingley.

The English will have sniffed an outside chance of a three-day victory when they were bowled out for 432 about 15 minutes into the first session on Friday, taking a 354-run first-innings lead.

Joe Root's team had needed less than 41 overs to skittle the tourists for 78 inside two sessions on Day 1, but scoreboard pressure and gloomy overhead conditions were not enough to undermine India this time around.

Instead, England toiled in the field for 80 overs as India reached 215-2 by stumps, with Cheteshwar Pujara’s 91 not out leading knocks of 59 from Rohit Sharma and an unbeaten 45 from captain Virat Kohli.

With a lead of 139, England still has a huge advantage, though.

It took a spectacular, one-handed catch from Jonny Bairstow at second slip to get the home side on the board in India's innings, with KL Rahul (8) nicking Craig Overton’s final ball before lunch.

A wicketless afternoon session gave India a proper foothold, with England missing a chance to get the in-form Rohit lbw for 39 when Root was too late with a DRS review.

The unlucky bowler, Ollie Robinson, got his man in the second over after tea. That was as good as it got, with an unbroken third-wicket stand of 99 to follow.

England dragged India back into the field rather than declaring overnight on 423-8 but the tail didn't wag, with Overton trapped lbw by Mohammed Shami for 32 and Robinson bowled by Jasprit Bumrah for 0.

That meant another chance for India’s chastened batting unit to redeem itself, with the floodlights on and the ball swinging nicely for James Anderson. But where the 39-year-old paceman wiped out the top order on Wednesday, now he was narrowly missing the edge or seeing nicks die in front of the slips.

Robinson thought he had Rahul when he went full at the stumps and won an lbw verdict, but England lost a review. Overton was next to try his luck, finding a hint of added lift, and it was the seamer who got things going.

A thick edge by Rahul appeared to be heading toward Root when Bairstow flung himself to his left, snapping up a one-handed take. With the ball safely grasped, he lay flat on his back in elation as the celebrations began.

From 34-1 at lunch, Rohit and Pujara added another 78 in the middle session as England’s energy sagged. Pujara, lacking in timing and confidence in recent months, was given a handful of cheap runs to get going and accepted every invitation.

A light aircraft flew by trailing a banner that read “Sack the ECB & Save Test Cricket” but England’s concerns extended no further than the partnership at hand. Anderson was looking less than 100% fit, Sam Curran served up too many half-volleys, and offspinner Moeen Ali was used reluctantly.

An unsuccessful lbw appeal from Robinson may well have ended Rohit’s stay but, after losing an earlier review, Root hesitated to challenge. He eventually made a tentative signal only to be told the 15-second window had closed. Almost inevitably, ball-tracking suggested it was out and head coach Chris Silverwood hung his head on the balcony.

With Anderson briefly off the field, it fell to Robinson to lift English spirits after tea, beating the bat again and finally getting an lbw shout to stick against Rohit.

Kohli’s arrival spurred Anderson back from his break but a two-over burst from him cost 20 runs, suggesting he was not quite at full tilt. Pujara and Kohli both scored fluently, the former recovering the snap in his wrists as he worked the ball around at will.

Bad light forced England to use spin from both ends in the closing stages, and it was Root who almost pulled out a wicket when he spun one through Kohli’s gate on 34. Somehow the ball cleared the stumps as it zipped between bat and pad, leaving England relying on the second new ball on the fourth morning.

India leads the five-match series 1-0.


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