A majestic hundred by Rohit Sharma led Team India’s charge on Day 3 of The Oval Test. The opener scored a fantastic 127 off 256 balls as India ended the day on 270 for 3, with a significant lead of 171. If they bat sensibly on Day 4, India should be able to set England a challenging target.
Riding his luck, having been dropped twice, Rohit Sharma brought up his maiden Test hundred away from home, and eighth overall, with panache. The opener danced down the track and launched Moeen Ali for a six over long-on as England were left to rue the chances they offered Rohit Sharma.
Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara (61) featured in a tenacious 153-stand for the second wicket as Team India began to gain control of the match. Neither batter looked in any sort of trouble as they went about their task in a mature manner on an Oval surface that was terrific to bat on.
Rohit Sharma applied himself wonderfully well, reaching him half-century off 145 balls – the slowest fifty of his Test career. Unlike his previous knocks though, this time he was determined to cross three figures. At the other end, the usually defensive Pujara came out with positive intent, much like in the second innings of the Headingley Test.
There was a scare for India after Pujara twisted his ankle while taking a run in the 45th over of the innings. However, the tough character that Pujara is, he got his ankle strapped and carried on batting. Thankfully for Team India, the No. 3 batter did not look in much discomfort as he continued playing his strokes.
Rohit Sharma and Pujara took Team India to Tea at 199 for 1, with a lead of exactly 100. While the opener had crossed his hundred, Pujara was nearing his half-century.
Post Tea, Pujara brought up his fifty by guiding Craig Overton wide of fly slip for four. Both batters displayed patience as the second new ball approached. As it often happens in England, though, things changed dramatically as soon as the new ball was taken.
Rohit Sharma, who had batted with amazing resilience, perished to the first delivery with the new ball. A short one from Ollie Robinson sat up in the surface and the Team India opener awkwardly top-edged an attempted pull towards long leg. It was a rather disappointing end to a wonderful knock by Rohit Sharma.
There was more drama on the last ball of the over as Pujara (61) also fell, inside-edging one that seamed back in sharply. The umpire did not raise his finger initially but was forced to change his decision as England used the DRS.
Team India skipper Virat Kohli (22 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (9 not out) survived a tense period against the new ball before bad light forced umpires to call stumps.
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul get Team India off to resolute start on Day 3
Earlier, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul continued from where they left off on Day 2. They batted out the first hour without much trouble, playing close to their body, which has been their hallmark right through the series.
The partnership had reached 83 when England finally struck courtesy the DRS. James Anderson got one to nip away as Rahul played a defensive stroke. Just like with Pujara later in the day, the umpire did not lift his finger. However, the snicko clearly showed a spike as the ball went past the bat and an unconvinced Rahul had to walk back for 46.
If England thought they had an opening, Pujara and Rohit Sharma ensured that Team India stayed ahead with a defiant stand. They took the visitors to lunch without any further loss of wickets. Things could have been much different had Rory Burns not dropped Rohit Sharma a second time, when he was still in his 30s.
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