Rishabh Pant’s counterattacking batting once again came to his team’s rescue as India somehow managed to keep their heads up on a difficult Chepauk track in Chennai on Sunday.
After Joe Root’s monumental innings, the England bowlers complemented their captain’s good work by turning the screws on India. Jofra Archer first removed Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill before Dom Bess further shook India’s batting with the wickets of captain Virat Kohli and deputy Ajinkya Rahane to leave the hosts tottering at 73/4.
But just as they have been doing since the second innings of the Sydney Test last month, Cheteshwar Pujara (73) and Pant (91) once again fought back bravely, stitching a 119-run stand. At stumps on Day III, after England made 578, India, in response, were 257/6.
Bess, who had a very successful day, accounted for both Pujara and Pant in the day’s final session.
For the last hour or so, Washington Sundar (33, batting) and Ravichandran Ashwin (8, batting) put up a stiff resistance. India would need more of that on Day IV to avoid a follow-on. But the pitch is not getting any easier for batting and the footmarks too will pose bigger obstacles.
“There’s a bit of spin now, but it’s still a good pitch to bat on,” Pujara, however, said after the day’s play.
“Batting-wise, we could have done better. But we are still very confident as Washy and Ash are batting well.”
Pant’s knock was certainly the highlight of the day. His footwork against left-arm spinner Jack Leach — stepping out and lofting it on the on-side — was breathtaking and effective at the same time. That negated the threat of footmarks to some extent.
However, Pujara’s freak dismissal and a mis-hit from Pant brought them back into the game.
○ The 55.1 overs bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin in England’s first innings is the most he has done in his Test career of 75 matches. Previously, he had sent in 53 overs (53-6-194-3) in Adelaide in 2011-12.
○ England’s 578 is their second highest total in India. Their highest still remains 652/7 decl., also in Chennai in 1984-85.
○ England facing 190.1 overs is the fifth highest by any visiting side in India since 2000 after…
◙ 202.4 ovs (760/7) by SL in Ahmedabad 2009
◙ 198.3 ovs (630/6) by NZ in Mohali 2003
◙ 191.4 ovs (479) by SA in Bangalore 2000
◙ 190.4 ovs (510/9d) by SA in Kanpur 2004
○ Risbabh Pant, during his 91, became the first Indian batsman to hit more than four sixes in an innings against England.
○ Cheteshwar Pujara registered his 4th fifty in his last 5 innings, while Pant made the 3rd in his last four innings. Pant’s scores — 97, 23, 89 n.o., 91.