Jadeja fights, but England in control
Calcutta/London: Alastair Cook displayed his all-too familiar obduracy and powered England to a position of strength in the final Test against India at The Oval, laying the groundwork for a swansong befitting a distinguished career.
Cook was unbeaten on 46 in his last international innings as England reached 114 for two at stumps on Day 3. He has so far put on 52 runs for the third wicket with skipper Joe Root (29) as England have stretched their lead to 154.
Post tea, Cook and Keaton Jennings (10) extended their opening partnership to 27. It wasn't a frustrating stand, but it became quickly so for India as they wasted both reviews on the openers within three overs after the break.
On both occasions, Ravindra Jadeja and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant convinced captain Virat Kohli to go for the reviews, despite the ball missing the off-stump. Mohammed Shami then bowled Jennings in the 13th over.
Cook and Moeen Ali (20) put on 35 runs for the second wicket and took England past 50 in the 24th over. The latter enjoyed a life on 14, as Lokesh Rahul dropped him at second slip off Ishant Sharma.
Jadeja did get Ali soon after, bowling him through the gates as the ball spun a mile after pitching on the rough. India had the match ball changed on two occasions thereafter, as Cook and Root played out the remaining overs without much ado and bringing up their 50-stand off 80 balls.
The total crossed 100 in the 38th over as the hosts assumed a commanding position in this Test.
"England are already 3-1 up in the series. The series is already won, so they don't really have any new challenge to set. For India, they need to restrict England's overall lead to 250 or 260, but even chasing that won't be easy," Sunil Gavaskar said after the day's play.
"The roughs have already come into play. We saw the Jadeja delivery that dismissed Moeen Ali, but there was another ball earlier off Moeen, which pitched around Jadeja's leg-stump and did a bit. So, on Days 4 and 5, the pitch will definitely be having something in it for the spinners," Gavaskar added.
Earlier, Jadeja scored an unbeaten 86 to mark his fantastic comeback in the side as India finished their first innings at 292 while Hanuma Vihari hit 56 in his debut Test, limiting England's lead to 40. Jadeja faced 156 balls and hit 11 fours as well as a six, narrowing the gap between the two teams.
Post lunch, India tried to extend their first innings as long as possible. Ishant Sharma, though, fell in the fourth over after the break, caught behind off Moeen. At the other end, Adil Rashid dismissed Shami who again tried to hit out instead of putting a price on his wicket.
Jasprit Bumrah (0) did just that and batted out 14 deliveries, which allowed Jadeja to smash the ball around. In doing so, he put on 32 runs for the final wicket.
Jadeja reached his ninth Test half-century off 113 balls, after India had crossed 250 in the 84th over. England were so flustered that they took the new ball in hope of dismissing the last wicket quickly. The partnership and India's first innings ended through a run out in the 95th over as Jadeja finished unbeaten.
Vihari too impressed a good deal in his debut game, scored a half-century as India reached 240 for seven at lunch. Resuming on 174 for six, Vihari and Jadeja looked to bat for time and dig India out of the precarious position they found themselves in.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad bowled a threatening first spell, but both batsmen played watchfully and with patience. There were a couple of edges, though they didn't go to hand or fell short.
1st Innings: 332
1st Innings (overnight174/6)
H. Vihari c Bairstow b Ali 56
R. Jadeja not out 86
I. Sharma c Bairstow b Ali 4
Md Shami c Broad b Rashid 1
J. Bumrah run out 0
Extras: (b-4, lb-10) 14
Total: (all out; 95 overs) 292
Fall of wickets: 7/237, 8/249, 9/260
Bowling: Anderson 21-7-54-2, Broad 20-6-50-1, Stokes 16-2-56-2, Curran 11-1-49-1, Ali 17-3-50-2, Rashid 10-2-19-1
A. Cook batting 46
K. Jennings b Shami 10
M. Ali b Jadeja 20
J. Root batting 29
Extras: (b-9) 9
Total (Two wickets; 43 overs) 114
Fall of wickets: 1/27, 2/62
Bowling: Bumrah 12-4-26-0, Sharma 7-3-11-0, Shami 10-3-32-1, Jadeja 14-2-36-1