Struggling Team India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara rediscovered his form with a fluent 91 not out as the visitors fought hard on Day 3 of the Headingley Test.
Coming into bat after KL Rahul fell early for eight, the embattled Pujara featured in crucial stands of 82 and 99 (unbroken) with Rohit Sharma (59) and Team India captain Virat Kohli (45 not out), respectively. Thanks to the trio’s efforts, Team India ended Day 3 on 215 for 2. Although it was a good day at work for the visitors, they still trail England by 139 runs with two days to go.
Criticised for his slow approach and allowing bowlers to dominate, Pujara came out with a refreshingly positive attitude and played his strokes without getting reckless. He was aided by a benign pitch not offering much to the bowlers, but to his credit, Pujara made full use of the opportunity.
Kohli, who was also under pressure, eased his way through his innings. He made a conscious effort to leave balls outside the off stump, an area that has proved to be his Achilles’ heel in the series. Once he got his eye in, though, the fluency of the Team India captain returned, and he played some handsome strokes.
With the light fading, England decided to bowl their spinners in the last few overs until the new ball was available. Team India helped themselves to a few easy runs until stumps were called after Joe Root expressed his desire to take the new ball.
Earlier, in-form Team India opener Rohit Sharma made a well-compiled half-century, but undid all his hard work following a lapse in concentration. After displaying immense patience during his 59, he was trapped lbw playing across the line to Ollie Robinson. The umpire raised his finger, and even though Sharma reviewed, he had to walk back in dejection, as replays showed the ball clipping leg stump, which was enough to uphold the umpire’s call.
Sharma and Pujara kept England’s bowlers at bay during the second session of Day 3. The duo demonstrated good technique on the easiest surface to bat on so far in the series, playing their shots well when the opportunity so beckoned.
England missed a trick in the 32nd over when they failed to take a review against Rohit Sharma. A delivery from Robinson struck the Team India opener on the back leg. England captain Joe Root was engaged in consultation, and by the time he signalled for a review, the timer had run out. Replays revealed that the ball was hitting the stumps. Luckily for England, they did not have to pay too much for the error, as Robinson had his man soon after Tea.
Rohit Sharma and Pujara added a stubborn 82 runs for the second wicket to keep India’s faint hopes of saving the match alive. The former brought up his fifty in the 38th over in style. After hitting two wonderfully-timed boundaries off Sam Curran, the right-hander clipped one to long leg for a single to raise his half-century.
Not long after Rohit Sharma’s dismissal, Pujara reached his first fifty of what had, till now, been a wretched tour. India’s no. 3 looked at his most fluent as he raised his half-century by pulling Craig Overton through square leg for four. Few more boundaries followed as Pujara finally found some momentum in his batting.
England strike at stroke of lunch to hurt Team India
After Team India managed to claim the last two England wickets for the addition of just nine runs, openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma again put up a resistance with the bat. They saw off probing opening spells from James Anderson and Robinson.
The Indian opening duo added 34 runs in 19 overs. At the stroke of lunch, though, Craig Overton got one to bounce a little extra, and Rahul fended at the ball outside off. The edge flew to the slip where Jonny Bairstow plucked off a one-handed stunner as Rahul’s innings ended on eight off 54 balls.
Earlier, India did not take too much time to dislodge England’s tail. Mohammed Shami got his fourth wicket of the innings by trapping Overton (32) leg before with one that nipped back in. Jasprit Bumrah then cleaned up Robinson (0) when the batter attempted a wild slog. England ended their innings on 432, with a massive lead of 354 runs, leaving India a mountain to climb.
Thanks to Pujara, Sharma and Kohli, Team India ended Day 3 with hopes of saving the Test still alive. With two days still left, though, England have enough time to force a win and square the series.