Eng vs. Ind: 1st Test, Day 3 – A match in the balance

Day 3 promised to be another enthralling day of Test Cricket, and it didn’t disappoint.

Joe Root and Keaton Jennings started proceedings, but it took Ashwin only 12 balls to get the wicket of Jennings. Ashwin loves bowling to left-handers and it showed, a good catch by KL Rahul meant Jennings was gone for 8.

Dawid Malan, who has been having a lean run of form was next man in, and he and Root put on 21 runs before Ashwin struck again, to remove the kingpin of England’s batting lineup, to an absolutely spectacular catch from KL Rahul again, for 14. Credit to Root for walking, he was well within his rights to question the catch, but he asked the fielder and trusted his response.

Malan and Jonny Bairstow then put together 31 runs before Ishant Sharma came into the attack, and what a spell of bowling he was in. Malan struggles with his defensive shots, with very little footwork, and his dismissal here was no different. He just prodded his bat out and the edge was found. Malan was gone for 20 and England were in trouble at 70-4.

It was now up to the much vaunted England middle order to save England. Ben Stokes was next man in, joining Bairstow to try and take England to lunch.

England had reached 84-4, it was the final over before lunch and they just had to bat out six balls. Sharma had other ideas.

He was  in the middle of a sublime spell of fast bowling, he first got Bairstow for 28, inducing an edge to first slip, where Shikhar Dhawan was ready to take a good low catch, and then two balls later, gets Stokes for 6. 

Some great captaincy from Virat Kohli saw him put an extra man in the vacant 3rd slip position as Stokes came in to bat. He put himself in and Stokes hit it straight to him. Kohli took a great low catch.

Lunch was called with England on 86-6, with a lead of only 99 runs.

Ishant Sharma had two balls left to finish his over after lunch, and on the final ball of the over, he induced the edge of Jos Buttler who was caught behind for 1. England were now into their bowlers and a lead of only 100.

Sharma had taken three wickets and taken the heart of England’s batting order with him, and finished the innings with his 8th five-wicket haul, ending on 5-51.

Sam Curran, 20 years old, in only his second Test match, came out to bat with his team in desperate trouble. He showed such character and fight, it was quite incredible to witness. He had no trouble hitting Ashwin out of the attack on his way to a career best, maiden Test fifty.

Curran bolstered England from 87-7 to 180-10 as he was last man out for a terrifically played 63. India had been set 194 to win the first Test.

The chase began, with India’s openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay tasked with seeing off the new ball and getting India off to a good and solid start.

Another dropped catch from England’s slip cordon, saw Vijay given a life, and it was again that man, Malan. It was a simple catch and he dropped it. With such few runs in either innings and many dropped catches, I would be very surprised if he’s in the team for the 2nd Test.

Thankfully for England fans and Malan, that drop didn’t hurt England. With cloud cover and the swinging ball, Stuart Broad was almost unplayable. He trapped Vijay LBW for 6, and then had Dhawan out in his next over for 13.

Kohli and Rahul saw off Anderson and Broad, but with the overcast conditions, Curran and Stokes were not going to be easy. Rahul edged behind to Stokes on 13 and India were in trouble on 35-3.

There was the beginnings of a partnership forming between Kohli and Rahane, they added 28 runs before Curran continued his good game, by getting Rahane out, caught behind for 10.

India promoted Ravi Ashwin to 6, ahead of Hardik Pandya, in the hope of providing Kohli with a batting partner who can stay with him. That didn’t work, Anderson came back on and removed Ashwin for 13.

India were now 78-5, and still trailed by 116 runs. While Kohli was still at the crease, India’s hopes were still alive. He just needed someone to stay with him.

Dinesh Karthik played that role. By stumps, they had added 32 runs, and India had reached 110-5, with Kohli 43* and Karthik 18*, still trailing by 84 runs.

All the hopes of India winning the Test lie with Virat Kohli. If he is still at the crease by the end of the game, India will win.

Kohli obviously relishes the challenge, he lives for this, but it is unfair for him to carry the whole Indian team on his shoulders. He needs support. Karthik needs to provide that on Day 4.

Day 4 will begin with both teams in with a chance, it is a match in the balance, but whatever happens, this has been a great Test match.



Posted in The Popping Crease.