Cheteshwar Pujara scored an unbeaten 91 as India frustrated England on day three of the third Test at Emerald Headingley.
Having struggled for runs in the series, Pujara stood firm when his side most needed him and took India to 215-2 at stumps, putting on 82 with Rohit Sharma (59) for the second wicket and then adding an unbroken 99 with Virat Kohli (45no).
It leaves the tourists needing another 139 to make England bat again and Joe Root’s side remain firm favourites after establishing a 354-run lead on first innings, but India’s batsmen ensured they will have to fight all the way to secure a series-levelling win.
- Third Test scorecard: England vs India
- Day three at Headingley – as it happened
While Pujara will be aiming to complete his century, England will hope the second new ball can kickstart their victory push as they hunt for early wickets on day four.
England vs India
August 28, 2021, 10:15am
England still had hopes of adding to their first-innings lead at the start of the day but India needed just 3.2 overs to take the two remaining wickets with Craig Overton (32) and Ollie Robinson (0), dismissed by Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, respectively, as the hosts’ first dig ended on 432.
The India openers walked out knowing that occupying the crease, at least initially, was as important as scoring runs and with charcoal skies overhead, that would be no easy task.
So it proved with Robinson and James Anderson finding ample swing with the new ball but, while they beat the edge on a number of occasions, they were unable to find it, a pattern which continued for much of the day.
KL Rahul (8) needed a review to overturn an lbw decision after being given out lbw to a nip-backer from Robinson, ball-tracking showing it would have missed leg stump by a whisker, but he was unable to see out the session.
Overton (1-35) eventually found the edge with the last ball before lunch and Jonny Bairstow clung on to a stunning one-handed catch as he went to his left at second slip.
It was a nice boost for the home side going into the break but they were unable build on it in the afternoon session as Rohit and Pujara battled through another probing spell in the first hour before cashing in as England’s bowlers frayed in the hour before tea.
Rohit required some luck on 39 after being rapped on the front pad by Robinson with the umpire turning down the lbw appeal from England and Joe Root then deemed to have been a split-second too late in trying to call a review.
Had he been a fraction quicker, the decision would have been overturned and Rohit sent on his way. Instead, he remained and reached his 14th Test fifty from 126 balls before tea.
The opener’s luck with DRS was evened out in the second over of the evening session. This time the umpire responded in the affirmative when Robinson (1-40) and England went up for an lbw shout, a decision which was upheld on review courtesy of ball-tracking’s prediction that the ball would not so much have clipped leg stump as brushed it.
It was enough and brought Kohli to the middle to join the unusually free-scoring Pujara. The India No 3 came into the innings with his place in the side being questioned and responded with comfortably his most purposeful knock of the series.
His half-century came up from 91 balls and included nine boundaries, showing good intent against some weary England bowling and defending stoutly when required.
Meanwhile, Kohli was also looking more like his old self as the day progressed, driving nicely through the covers and not getting drawn into playing at the deliveries on a fourth or fifth stump line which have troubled him so far in the series.
The experienced India pairing had brought up their fifty partnership by the time the gloom descended, and England were forced to bowl spin from both ends.
It nearly worked for the home side, though, as Root bowled a beautiful off-break which drew Kohli forward and turned sharply to beat the inside edge, only to go just over the top of the off bail.
That was the only real scare for India before the players walked off after 80 overs of the innings with England wanting to bring their seamers back to bowl with the second new ball but the umpires deeming it was too dark for them to do so.
Watch day four of the third Test between England and India from 10.15am, Saturday on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event.
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