Day 3 of this 4th Test started out with the Test evenly poised.
Things started out well for India, Alastair Cook was dismissed with a great catch from KL Rahul, it took him 3 attempts but he got it in the end. Cook was out and England still trailed by 3 runs.
Moeen Ali was promoted to 3 for the 2nd innings. It is a well-known fact that Joe Root does not like to bat at 3, but why? I can’t fathom that much of a difference between batting at 3 or 4. Is it perhaps that England’s opening pair are incapable of stringing a decent opening stand, meaning that Root had to effectively open? It is baffling that for such a great player, he has such a mental block with batting one place higher.
The experiment with Ali at 3 didn’t work. He was out for 9 and this then brought Root to the crease. He and Keaton Jennings put on 59 runs as England got into the lead as they got through to lunch, but not before Jennings was out on the final ball before lunch for his second highest score this series, 36.
The morning session had a bit of drama as Ishant Sharma was given two official warnings by Bruce Oxenford for running on the wicket. The follow-through that prompted the 2nd official warning seemed very harsh, as Sharma had barely encroached onto the danger zone. Footage showed how Jimmy Anderson makes a habit of following through onto the danger area, yet never has received any official warning. Once again, double standards for England.
India struck immediately after the lunch break, as Jonny Bairstow was clean bowled, playing a very loose shot for a first ball duck. Joe Root and Ben Stokes put together 30 runs before Stokes called a dubious run that left Root short of reaching safety. It was the 2nd time Root was run-out in this series, and what was most disappointing was the lack of effort made by Root, there was no dive or attempt made to make his ground. It was very lazy.
This brought Jos Buttler and Stokes together as they slowly took the game away from India. The way these two have batted in this series has been most impressive, they’ve demonstrated the right characteristics needed for Test match Cricket, the patience and resolve that is necessary.
By the time Stokes was dismissed, England’s lead had moved onto 151. India had the breakthrough but they were not out of the woods yet, they still had Sam Curran to contend with.
Jos Buttler moved onto yet another Test half-century, his 4th of the summer. He was selected on the back of his IPL performance, but he has not let the selectors down. He was finally dismissed for 69, with the new ball, but not before he and Curran had put on 55 runs and taken England’s lead past the 200 run mark.
England reached stumps on 260-8, with Adil Rashid getting dismissed in the final over of the day. A lovely delivery from Mohammed Shami, but England’s lead was now 233.
It was a frustrating day for Ravi Ashwin, who for such an experienced campaigner, was not making use of the rough patches on offer. He was bowling too fast and too full to utilize the rough. The worry for India will be how Moeen Ali bowls into the rough in the 2nd innings.
India will need to dismiss the final two English wickets quickly on day 4, and restrict the number of runs scored if they are to have any chance of winning this Test.
This seems a bridge too far for India though. It will take a monumental effort from India’s top order to chase whatever target they are set, and whilst Kohli is Kohli and Pujara scored runs in the first innings, will the pressure be too much for them? On a day 4 pitch that is wearing down, with rough patches for the spinner to work with, this won’t be an easy task. Are they up for the challenge or will they crumble to a series loss?