India started day 3, 179-6, still trailing by a massive 158 runs, with Ravindra Jadeja and debutant Hanuma Vihari at the crease.
England would have been expecting much of the same from India’s lower order in this innings, a short and sharp burst from the bowlers and back to batting before lunch.
Jadeja and Vihari had other ideas.
The two batsmen batted beautifully and played some lovely strokes as they put on 77 runs together, which saw Vihari make his maiden Test half century in his debut innings.
It was a good morning session or India, as they lost only the one wicket of Vihari for a well-played 56. He got out shortly before lunch as India had moved onto 240-7, trailing by 92 runs. The key for India though, was that Jadeja was still at the crease, on a fluent 41*.
Jadeja brought up his 9th Test half century with a lovely shot off Moeen Ali and celebrated with his customary sword celebration, as India were still fighting and reducing the deficit, slowly but surely.
Mohammed Shami played a very loose shot off Adil Rashid that went straight to Stuart Broad at long-on. With Jadeja going strong on 56 at the other end and India’s deficit reducing, and only Jasprit Bumrah left to come in, it was up to Shami to stay with Jadeja and block one end while Jadeja, who was batting quite brilliantly at the other, scored the runs. Very poor from Shami and something he will need to look at in the future.
England took the 2nd new ball shortly after this wicket, and the runs started flowing. Jadeja, knowing he only had Bumrah left, went for quick runs, and got to within 14 runs of his maiden Test century, before he took a suicidal run that left Bumrah run-out.
Credit must be given to Jasprit Bumrah, who finished without troubling the scores, but batted in a 32 run partnership with Jadeja. He showed the defence and fight that was needed by Shami before him. He may have gotten out for a duck, but his part played in the partnership cannot go unnoticed.
India had been bowled out for 292, and a first innings deficit of only 40. If you had asked them at the start of play if they’d take that, I’m sure they would have said yes. It was a fantastic rearguard action from Jadeja and the young Virahi that have kept India in this Test, for now.
The focus then moved to Alastair Cook, who was going to bat for the very last time in his Test career. He came out to a standing ovation, and took his time to soak in the moment.
Some joked that the standing ovation could also have been for Keaton Jennings’ last Test innings, as he was dismissed, offering no shot and bowled for 10 by Mohammed Shami, who finally got a wicket in the Test. It was an awful shot from Jennings and this brought about a fitting end to his mediocre summer and quite possibly his mediocre career. His average for the series of 17.71 was the worst average for an opener in his home country, and he’s now gone 18 Test innings since his last half-century. Surely the time has come to drop him.
England’s lead had gone past 100 runs, when Moeen Ali was bowled with a lovely delivery from Jadeja, who was continuing his good game. Alastair Cook and Joe Root carried England through to stumps as England finished the day on 114-2, a lead of 154 runs, as Alastair Cook draws closer to his 57th Test half-century.
It will take a monumental effort from India’s bowlers to bowl England out on day 4, and set themselves a target of less than 250.
For now though, the Test is all about Cook.