Gary Ballance and Ian Bell piled on the runs to cement England’s strong position in the third Test against India in Southampton, England, yesterday.
At lunch, England were 358-3 with Ballance falling shortly before the break for a Test-best 156.
Together with Bell (68 not out), Ballance put on 142 for the third wicket.
Joe Root was 2 not out.
England, 1-0 down in the five-match series, resumed on 247-2, with Zimbabwe-born left-hander Ballance 104 not out — his third century in six Tests. Meanwhile Bell, who might have been leg before wicket for a duck to a brilliant late-swinging delivery from debutant paceman Pankaj Singh, was 16 not out.
England’s total also owed much to captain Alastair Cook’s 95 that saw the left-handed opener end a run of low scores if not a sequence that now extends to 28 innings without a Test century.
India, without the injured Ishant Sharma — the seven-wicket hero of their 95-run win in the second Test at Lord’s in London — had struggled for penetration after Cook won the toss on an even-paced pitch.
Singh, Sharma’s replacement, had been unlucky not to take at least one wicket on Sunday, having Cook dropped by Ravindra Jadeja in the slips on 15.
“I was under the most pressure I’ve ever been under as a player and to score runs when everyone is telling me I should stop is a nice place to be,” Cook told reporters after the close on Sunday.
Cook, who has not made a Test century since his 130 against New Zealand at Headingley in Leeds, England, in May last year, played solidly before getting nervous in the 90s and feathering a leg-side edge to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni off spinner Jadeja.
“I’m delighted that I got 95, but frustrated that I didn’t get a hundred,” Cook said. “It was an amazing reception and I’ve never experienced anything like that. It was a great feeling.”
Cook’s battling innings will go some way to silencing his critics.
“You never silence everyone, that’s the nature of the beast, but it has given me some confidence that my batting is going in the right direction and hopefully I can carry on scoring runs,” Cook said.
Cook celebrated another personal landmark when he moved up to third on the list of England’s all-time leading Test run-scorers, passing David Gower on 8,231 to sit behind only Graham Gooch and Alec Stewart.
The captain was full of praise for Ballance, who completed his century shortly before the close on Sunday.
“He looks like he bats the same way every innings, he adjusts to the conditions and finds his way. He’s settled really well and looks a mighty fine player,” Cook said.
Yesterday, Singh beat Bell outside his off-stump and then saw the batsman edge him through the slips for four.
However, Bell was far more convincing in cover-driving Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the boundary in typically classic style.
Ballance then surpassed his previous highest Test score of 110, made last time out at Lord’s, with three fours in four Kumar balls, as a cut was followed by a leg-glance and then a well-timed punch through midwicket.
That Bell, without a century in his 19 previous Test innings, was finding his best form was evident when he struck one of his signature shots by advancing down the pitch to drive left-arm spinner Jadeja for a straight six. His single off Mohammed Shami then saw Bell to a 99-ball half-century.
As the sun broke through the clouds, conditions were almost ideal for batting, with India’s attack lacking a physical threat on a pitch where there was only slow turn for the spinners.
Ballance pulled Singh down to the fine-leg boundary to get to 150 in 278 balls with 23 fours, but soon afterwards the 24-year-old was given out caught behind off the gentle spin of Rohit Sharma, the recalled batsman taking his first Test wicket, to end a stay of more than six hours at the crease.
Umpire Rod Tucker’s decision was understandable given the noise, but replays showed the ball had hit Ballance’s back pad, not his bat, on its way through to Dhoni.
However, with no Decision Review System because of India’s objections, Tucker’s verdict stood.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker found himself in need of an assist to help the state fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He called on the New England Patriots. One of the team’s private airplanes on Thursday evening landed in Boston after returning from China carrying more than 1 million masks critical to healthcare providers fighting to control the spread of the coronavirus. Members of the Massachusetts National Guard met the airplane and offloaded the containers of masks onto waiting trucks for transport to warehouses for distribution. Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers, but had no way of getting them to the US. He
WAIT AND SEE: The estimated cost of postponement started at US$2 billion and has kept rising, but the IOC has yet to say whether it would help pay for the extra expenses Postponing the Tokyo Olympics to next year would make the event more costly for all parties, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged on Thursday, although it offered few details on what the final bill might be. Four directors of the Olympic body held a conference call three days after Tokyo’s new dates were finalized, with the Games pushed back to July 23 to Aug. 8 next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the new dates cleared up any uncertainty about the event’s future, there are still plenty of question marks as the committee begins to work with Tokyo organizers and the
MEDIA RUMORS? With no pay agreement secured and players’ representatives calling for more financial information ahead of talks, the sport had another week of bad press Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle could be sacked in a matter of days, media reported yesterday, as the embattled governing body struggles to deal with a financial crisis compounded by a shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Castle this week took a 50 percent pay cut and laid off 75 percent of Rugby Australia (RA) staff members, saying that the body would face losses of up to A$120 million (US$71.95 million) if no more rugby was played this year. With no pay agreement secured with the players and their representatives calling on RA to provide more financial information ahead of negotiations, the
OLYMPICS Delay pushes rower to retire British rowing gold medalist Tom Ransley on Friday announced his retirement after deciding that the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to next year was a step too far. The 34-year-old was part of the men’s eight who won gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics and also a bronze in the 2012 London Games. “I have used up everything I had and I know that to get myself in the necessary condition to compete for a seat in 2021 is a step too far,” he told the BBC. The years of early starts, of three training