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India vs England 1st Test, Day 3: Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant steer the hosts to 257

Brief Scores: 1st innings – England 578/10 in 190.1 overs (Joe Root 218; Ishant Sharma 2/52, Jasprit Bumrah 3/84, R Ashwin 3/146, Shahbaz Nadeem 2/146)

India 257/6 in 74 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 73, Rishabh Pant 91, Washington Sundar 33*; Jofra Archer 2/52, Dominic Bess 4/55)

England set a total of 578 runs in the first innings, with Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin dismissing the likes of Dominic Bess (34) and James Anderson (1) respectively to wind up the rival lineup. India got off to an undesirable start, losing the wicket of Rohit Sharma (6) and then Shubman Gill (29), who had struck 5 fours and was batting at a strike rate of 100-plus.

The likes of Virat Kohli (11) and Ajinkya Rahane (1) couldn’t chip in the desired runs as the duo fell prey to Bess in a span of a few overs. It was only the 119-run partnership from Cheteshwar Pujara and wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant for the fifth-wicket that brought the hosts back in the game followed by an unbeaten knock from Washington Sundar at the end of Day 3.

Here are the major talking points from Day 3 in ongoing India vs England 1st Test in Chennai –

India’s top and middle-order fails to set a big total

Other than Pujara and Pant, the top and middle-order batters found it difficult to counter the pace and spin offered by English bowlers. India looked for a flying start on Day 3, and with Shubman Gill continuing his form from the concluded Border-Gavaskar trophy and seeking boundaries at regular intervals, it seemed like an ideal platform for him to get to his maiden ton. It was then Archer bowled at full-length and lured the 21-year-old for an on-drive that fell into the hands of James Anderson at mid-on.

Meanwhile, Rohit got out earlier while trying to hit a short of length delivery that carried straight to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler. Post the openers’ dismissals, the duo of Pujara and Kohli had added 27 runs off 92 deliveries for the third wicket, and just when the partnership looked to flourish, England pushed the Indian batters on the back foot by first scalping Kohli and then Rahane that adversely affected India’s scoring.

Jofra Archer and Dominic Bess get wickets in their kitty

While the wicket wasn’t aiding the bowlers on the first two days, it turned out just fine when the turn arrived for the Englishmen. Pacer Jofra Archer set the tone for the tourists as he dismissed Indian openers Rohit Sharma (6) and Shubman Gill (29) in the 4th and 10th overs respectively. Rohit edged an outside a short of length delivery straight to the keeper, while Shubman played an on-drive on a full delivery that was caught straight up by James Anderson.

Bess, who had an impressive run in the concluded 2-match Test series against Sri Lanka in Galle, continued his red-hot form with the ball and got the much-coveted wicket of skipper Virat Kohli (11) as he tossed a delivery outside off stump that turned sharply and edged straight to Ollie Pope at Short Leg.

That was just the beginning of what was about to come. Before the hosts could even settle, Bess rendered another major blow as he dismissed Ajinkya Rahane (1), forcing him to drive to covers only to be bewildered by a stunning left-handed catch from Joe Root.

England struggled to get wickets in between the overs 26.3 to 50.3, courtesy of the yin and yang performance from Pujara and Pant, but eventually had the last laugh though Bess, who dismissed them both in the last session to end the day on a positive note. Pujara was quite unlucky in his mode of dismissal, pulling a delivery straight to short leg position that struck the fielder’s shoulder and tossed up to mid-wicket before being caught by Rory Burns. Pant ran down the wicket while hitting on the off-side only to get caught by Jack Leach at deep cover.

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Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant light up India’s scorecard

If not for Pujara’s steely resolve on Day 3 of the ongoing Test and an equally aggressive knock from Rishabh Pant, then perhaps India would have been in a more unsuitable position. Pujara kept batting in the manner he usually does and scored a gritty 73 off 143 deliveries with 11 fours to his tally. Meanwhile, Pant didn’t shy away from a scoring opportunity and ended up whacking 9 fours and 5 sixes during his stay in the middle.

Pant, who was dismissed on 91, now has 3 scores in the nineties in the matches played at home, with the earlier two knocks of 92 against West Indies during the 2-match Test series. Also, this is Pant’s third consecutive score of 80 in the last three Tests with the earlier two being 97 and 89* against Australia at SCG and Gabba respectively.

The duo of Pant and Pujara withered England’s bowlers for a good duration by forging a 119-run stand that got India from 73/4 to 192/5, and eventually 257/6 till the end of Day 3, courtesy Washington Sundar’s crucial 33* that first involved Pant and later Ashwin.

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V Shashank
A cricket aficionado who has been following the game since the historic Ashes 2013-14. "People throw stones at you, you turn them into milestones." - Sachin Tendulkar


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