Stuart Broad took two wickets as England tightened their grip on the third Test against India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton yesterday.
At lunch on the third day, India were 108-3 in reply to England’s imposing 569-7 declared, a deficit of 461 runs after Broad had dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara (24) and Murali Vijay (35).
Virat Kohli was 18 not out and Ajinkya Rahane 11 not out, with India needing a further 262 runs to avoid the follow-on.
England had seen Ian Bell (167) end a run of 20 innings without a Test century and Gary Ballance (156) make his Test-best score on Monday.
“I feel like I’ve been playing well recently, but I have found strange ways to get out, so it’s nice to get a big hundred and contribute,” Bell told reporters. “It’s been frustrating for me personally and the team lately, but hopefully we can push this game on and getting runs is a good habit to start.”
Meanwhile England debutant wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who might have out for a duck and gave two other chances, rode his luck to complete a typically quick-fire 85.
“We know the potential he has from seeing him in the one-day game. He played with great instinct and he was outstanding,” Bell said of Buttler. “If we can get platforms, he can come in and move us on to winning positions. He’s an exciting player.”
“The wicket was quite easy for the batsmen and it has been a long time in the field for us,” said India bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took three for 101. “We were expecting a response because after losing a Test match you expect them to come back stronger, but we tried our best to limit their runs.”
Things got even better for under-pressure England captain Alastair Cook, who had earlier ended a run of low scores with a morale-boosting 95, when he caught Shikhar Dhawan at first slip off James Anderson before the close on Monday.
Following a minute’s silence yesterday to commemorate cricketers who were killed during World War I, a hundred years on from the start of that conflict, India resumed on 25-1.
Opener Vijay, averaging 90 in the series, was 11 not out and Pujara 4 not out.
England, 1-0 down in the series and without a victory in their previous 10 Tests, knew they had to “win” yesterday’s play if they were to have a realistic chance of drawing level in the match.
After the batsmen made a solid start, with the England bowlers appreciably quicker than those playing for India in the absence of the injured Ishant Sharma, the seven-wicket hero of the tourists’ 95-run win in the second Test at Lord’s, Broad made the breakthrough.
Pujara, trying to sway out of the way of a well-directed short ball, did not withdraw his bat and gloves in time and gave Buttler a simple catch for his first Test dismissal.
Kohli, whose best score in four previous innings in the series was only 25, drove Chris Jordan through the covers for four, but Broad struck again when Vijay, trying to withdraw his bat, deflected the ball onto his stumps and was bowled.
Broad had taken two for 10 in 22 balls and India, on a sunny day ideal for batting, were 88-3.
England thought they had Rahane, who made a superb century at Lord’s, caught by Buttler for 8 off occasional off-spinner Moeen Ali.
It was an excellent leg-side take by Buttler and the Hot Spot replay confirmed a thin touch on the glove, but Australian umpire Rod Tucker ruled not out and with India’s objections meaning the Decision Review System was not being used, Rahane survived.
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