- admin | August 27, 2021 | 11:39 pm
Cheteshwar Pujara was left eyeing a first Test century in more than two years as he held firm alongside India captain Virat Kohli to keep England at bay at Headingley on Friday. India was 215-2 in their second innings when bad light led to an early close on the third day of the third Test, still, 139 runs adrift of England’s first-innings 432. Pujara, however, was 91 not out and Kohli 45 not out. It was the highest score this series for both batsmen, with their unbroken stand worth 99 runs. It was all a far cry from India’s first-innings 78 following Kohli’s decision to bat first.
Craig Overton, 24 not out overnight, had hit two fours off successive Mohammed Shami balls before the paceman had him lbw and Jasprit Bumrah bowled Ollie Robinson for a duck to end the innings. Shami was the pick of India’s attack, with 4-95 in 28 overs. James Anderson, already the most successful fast bowler in Test history, had taken 3-6 as he ripped through India’s top order on Wednesday.
But he was unable to add to his tally of 629 Test wickets as an attack missing injured fellow quicks Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, and Mark Wood, as well as all-rounder Ben Stokes, enjoyed just two dismissals in 80 overs Friday. Rohit uppercut a rare short ball from Robinson for six.
Overton recalled in place of Wood, produced a rising delivery that took the shoulder of Rahul’s bat with second slip Jonny Bairstow, a wicketkeeper by trade, holding a superb left-handed catch as he dived in front of Root at first slip. Rahul had fallen for eight, but England hopes his exit would spark another spectacular India slump were dashed by Rohit and Pujara. Robinson, however, twice thought he had Rohit lbw in the 30s. Rohit had made 35 when an India review showed the ball missing leg stump.
Worse followed for England when Rohit on 39, with India 73-1, was given not out to a straighter delivery only for Root to be told by the umpires he’d gone past the 15-second time limit when he signaled for a review. Replays indicated the ball would have hit the middle stump. But having completed a 125-ball fifty, Rohit was lbw after tea to the persevering Robinson — on umpire’s call — to end a partnership of 82.
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Although Pujara has 18 hundred from his 88 previous Tests, he has not reached three figures at this level since making a superb 193 against Australia at Sydney in January 2019. Earlier, Rohit Sharma made 59 — the opener’s second fifty of the series following his 83 in India’s 151-run win in the second Test at Lord’s that put them 1-0 up in this five-match series. England resumed on 423-8 after captain Joe Root had made 121, his sixth Test century this year. But the tail added just nine runs on Friday.
Pujara, renowned for dour resistance, completed a relatively brisk fifty on a ground where he played for Yorkshire by hooking Overton for his ninth four in 92 balls. Rohit’s exit brought Kohli, with a meager average of 24 in Tests since the start of last year, to the crease. Root brought back Anderson, who had had the star batsman caught behind for just seven in the first innings, to the attack.
But the India skipper, having defended his first ball in textbook fashion, clipped Anderson off his pads for a boundary second ball and struck England great for an elegant cover-drive that sped to the rope. With the skies increasingly gloomy, Root brought himself on to bowl his off-breaks alongside those of frontline spinner Moeen Ali to keep the game going even though the Headingley floodlights were on full beam. But even with two spinners bowling, the umpires decided the natural light had declined sufficiently to end play for the day.