England vs India - First Test, Day Three: Game on tenterhooks as resurgent England fight back

England vs India - First Test, Day Three: Game on tenterhooks as resurgent England fight back

Sharma stars for India but Broad and Curran give England a chance at Edgbaston.

matt-rennie
Matt Rennie

Victory is in the balance after a resolute bowling performance by England helped the hosts fight back against India in the first Specsavers test. 

Starting the days play on 9/1, England soon found the Indian bowlers hard to handle and were reduced to 87/7 at one stage. 

Following a typical England batting collapse, rookie Sam Curran hit a quickfire 63 to push England up to 180 all out, setting India a target of 194. 

Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin were the pick of the Indian bowlers with 5/51 and 3/59 respectively. 

However, India floundered in the swinging conditions and looked in trouble at 78/5, with Stuart Broad and Curran proving the pick of the English bowlers. 

India captain Virat Kohli steadied the ship with an outstanding 43 not out as Dinesh Karthik finished on 18 not out as India ended the days play on 110/5. 

Heading into Day Four, India require 84 runs to win, while England need five wickets for victory. 

Ashwin and Sharma run riot on chaotic morning

After bowling India out for 274 in their first innings, the hosts began the day with a slender lead of 22, with captain Joe Root new to the crease following Alistair Cook's early dismissal at the hands of Ravichandran Ashwin in yesterday's evening session. 

Only nine runs were added to the total before Ashwin struck again, finding opener Keaton Jennings' shoulder of the bat off a fine length and KL Rahul completed a sharp regulation catch at Gully. 

Root and the under-fire Dawid Malan looked to steady the ship after the wicket of Jennings, however, the skipper fell victim to India's senior off-spinner just over half an hour later courtesy of another brilliant catch by Rahul, this time at leg slip. 

The wicket brought Root's Yorkshire counterpart Jonny Bairstow to the crease with a lead of just 52.  The trap India had set to Root nearly worked the very next ball, as Bairstow tried to lazily flick it to fine leg, only for the ball to just fall short of Rahul. 

The Indian bowlers had their tails up against a vulnerable England batting line-up, and Malan was reprieved in Ishant Sharma's first over of the day. The Middlesex batsman looked to have nicked the final ball of the over to Shikhar Dhawan at first slip, but with the aid of technology, third umpire Marais Erasmus adjudged the ball to have brushed the grass before it was scooped up by Dhawan. 

Bairstow looked to counter the Indian offensive with his usual aggressive zest, crunching two wide balls by Sharma to the boundary.

However, his counterpart Malan was soon dismissed by Sharma, edging one to Ajinkya Rahane in the slip cordon for a conservative 61-ball 20. 

Little over fifteen minutes after Malan's wicket, India's leading paceman's onslaught continued as he ousted both Bairstow and Ben Stokes within three balls for scores of 28 and six respectively.

Again, Sharma punished the English batsmen for prodding outside of off-stump, and the edges were comfortably snaffled in the slips. 

Virat Kholi needed his senior bowlers to stand up, and they duly delivered.

Ashwin and Sharma ripped through the heart of England's middle order to leave them 86-6 at the lunch break, with a fragile lead of 99 runs. 

 

 

All-too-familiar woe for England's batsmen

The batting collapse that has become inevitable in England's test team reared its ugly head once again.

Jos Buttler - England's last recognised batsman - duly departed the turmoil in the middle, wafting at the very first delivery bowled by Sharma after the interval and feathering an edge behind to wicketkeeper Dinesh Khartik

The chances kept coming for India too. Sharma, reminiscent of his famous 7/74 spell in England four years ago, beat the bat on various occasions. 

Mohammed Shami could have had youngster Sam Curran twice in the same over, but both edges raced through the slips and to the boundary as England's lead increased to over 140. 

Both Curran and partner Adil Rashid added valuable runs in a dogged partnership, but it could - and should - have been broken.

Shikhar Dhawan dropped a relatively uncomplicated catch off Umesh Yadav that would have seen the back of a stubborn Rashid, much to the dismay of his captain. 

After a brief pause in play for bad light, Yadav got his reward and broke the eighth-wicket partnership that mustered up 48 runs. 

After setting up Rashid with various away swingers, Yadav managed to wobble a ball back into the stumps, breaching Rashid's gate to send the middle stump flying. 

Precious runs scored by the tailenders as Curran shows the seniors how to do it

However, despite this breakthrough, England's tail - spearheaded by the 20-year-old Curran, managed to add valuable runs to their innings. 

The young Surrey all-rounder exuded confidence against the dangerous Ashwin and took 11 runs off one over, including a mammoth six into Edgbaston's Pavilion End. 

India's frustration became evident, and the precocious Curran put many of England's higher order to shame when registering his first test fifty with a one bounce cover drive for four.

England's lead swiftly moved over the 180-run mark, but Sharma soon broke the English resistance as Broad became his fifth victim for 11 with the lead on 189. 

The five-wicket haul was the Dehli-born Sharma's eighth in international test cricket. 

Just like the tale of London busses, the Indians were frustrated with a lack of wickets, then two turned up at once. 

Curran was the last wicket to fall at the hands of Umesh Yadav for a determined 63 to bring up the curtain on what had been a disappointing total of 180 for Joe Root's team. 

Courtesy of Curran's innings and a total of 93 runs scored for the last three wickets, Virat Kohli's men needed 194 wins to gain first blood in the five-test series. 

Yet, it was an impressive bowling performance by India, with Sharma finishing with figures of 5/51. 

 

 

Brilliant Broad leads the fightback

India's reply got off to a steady start, until the story of dropped catches for England popped up yet again. 

Murali Vijay played a wayward drive off the bowling of James Anderson, only for the golden chance to be put down by a confidence-shot Dawid Malan. 

Malan has now dropped three slip catches in this match, as he endures a torrid time in his test career. 

Vijay's stay did not last long however, with the score on 19, Stuart Broad wrapped the openers pads and Vijay was sent back to the pavilion by umpire Chris Gaffaney with no review taken. 

Broad, so often associated with match-winning spells, delivered two over laters, as Shikhar Dhawan loosely nicked behind to Bairstow, leaving India at an unwelcome 22-2. 

Captain Kohli came to the crease to a chorus of boos from the Edgbaston faithful, but he was content to form a steady partnership with his opposite number KL Rahul. 

While Anderson proved to be fruitless in his spell, Ben Stokes utilised the late swing to get a third breakthrough for England to dismiss an unsettled Rahul for 13. 

Supported by the vocal army of English supporters in the Hollies Stand, Curran again caused the Indian batsmen a vast amount of problems. 

The left-armer didn't let an unsuccessful review of Kohli get to him, and swiftly after that Ajinkya Rahane became Curran's first victim of the second innings, leaving India in a treacherous position at 63-4. 

 The fifth wicket of the innings fell minutes afterwards, as the promoted Ravi Ashwin tickled a classic James Anderson delivery behind to Bairstow. 

 

 

Kohli digs deep in swinging conditions

While most of the Indian batsmen were struggling to adapt to the overhead conditions, Kohli and new batsman Dinesh Kharthik crucially dug in for the remainder of the session.

The dramatic day came to an end, with a resolute Kohli proving to be a thorn in the side for England on 43 not out, while Kharthik impressed in the 32-run partnership with 18 not out. 

India finished the day on 110-5, needing 84 runs to reach their target, while England require another five wickets gain the first advantage in the five-series.

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