The third day of India’s rescheduled fifth and final Test at Edgbaston on Friday was a combination of the modern and the classic old Test cricket. An inspired Jonny Bairstow played a blistering innings that helped England finish with 284 runs in their first innings in reply to India’s 416, a deficit of 132 runs. And then India, driven by a solid-looking Cheteshwar Pujara and a patient Rishabh Pant saw off tough spells of bowling with gritty batting to finish on 125/3, to lead by 257 runs.
Here’s a look at some key moments from the day’s play:
Bairstow’s summer gets brighter
The standout performance for the day came from England’s Jonny Bairstow, who continued his brilliant year in Test cricket with 140-ball 106. It was the 32-year-old’s third hundred in successive Tests following scores of 136 and 162 against New Zealand, as well as his fifth Test century of 2022.
England chased down seemingly stiff targets of 277, 299 and 296 during a recent 3-0 clean sweep of Test world champions New Zealand and Bairstow played a huge role in that performance. It is safe to say that Bairstow’s batting performance has been a major part of the ‘Bazball’ approach. (That’s a reference to former New Zealand captain and now England men’s Test cricket team head coach Brendon McCullum’s nickname, that signifies the overhaul that followed since his appointment).
Off late, his form as a specialist batter has justified the team management decision to relieve Bairstow of the wicketkeeper’s gloves. He completed his third hundred in successive Tests before falling for 106 at Edgbaston on Sunday to leave England’s series-decider against India intriguingly poised.
Bairstow was 16 not out off 65 balls. And then he moved through the gears, playing orthodox but powerfully hit strokes, accelerated by scoring his next 84 runs off just 54 balls.
But he fell to the first ball of Mohammed Shami’s new spell when an edged drive flew to former India captain Virat Kohli at first slip.
Kohli, who earlier Sunday had been spoken to by the umpires following a verbal altercation with Bairstow, blew a kiss to the crowd.
There was some support from captain Ben Stokes who scored 25 runs but Sam Billings’ 36 was the second-highest score for the side. Bairstow’s latest century helped him ensure that with 880 runs in eight matches so far, he remains the leading run-scorer of the year.
Siraj bags four-for
Mohammad Siraj’s four-for that effectively cleaned the tail up helped India avoid a problem of the past that has often seen the opposition’s lower order effectively reduce the deficit. India have improved in that regard in recent times and the bowling unit’s all-round impact has been key.
Siraj had already gotten the prized wicket of Joe Root on Day 2, but he topped it up with the wicket of Billings, Stuart Broad (1) and Matthew Potts (19) to finish with figures of 4/66. The special bit about Siraj’s performance was that it was his third four-for in the five-match Test series that began in 2021. Previously, he had picked up both his four-fors at Lord’s.
Gill and Kohli miss out again
India’s second innings was off to a shaky start in just the third ball as Shubman Gill (4) was caught in the slips off James Anderson, for the second time in the match. In Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul’s absence, Gill had a chance to stake his claim for a long term spot in the side as an opener. But one of India’s Gabba heroes, the young right-hander threw his bat at leave-able deliveries in both innings and with that, threw a couple of good chances away too. This delivery from Anderson was a peach but these were the sort of balls that Rahul and Rohit kept leaving last summer.
But Cheteshwar Pujara (50*) was back to his vintage best as he took the responsibility to see the day through and build upon the first innings lead. He first combined with Hanuma Vihari (11) to take India to 37 for one at tea with a lead of 169 runs.
After Vihari was dimissed by Broad, Pujara continued to anchor the innings with Virat Kohli (20). Kohli, who relieved some pressure off him with some majestic boundaries and looked to be in good touch (yes, again), however had to walk back to the pavilion after Stokes’ peach of a delivery deceived him with the extra bounce and put an end to his stay. Sam Billings got a glove but dropped it, only for Joe Root to stick his hand out and complete a super reflex catch.
Kohli has made 11 and 20 in this match and with India not playing another Test for a few months, his century drought in the format in set to continue beyond three years.
Dependable Pujara - Pant
Pujara, like a solid, slow burn drama was back to tiring the oppositions out and the fire to his ice was the hero from previous innings, Rishabh Pant, batting at number five again. While Pant was relatively restrained in his approach this time around, his 46-ball stay so far was still laced with four boundaries. Understandably, India wanted to head into Day 4 without losing more wickets and so the two seemed to trust their defences against Stokes and Co.
Just before the end of the day’s play, Pujara registered up his fifth half-century in England and with that, also brought up a fifty-run partnership with Pant who will resume on 30* overnight. Can the two create an encore from Chennai or Sydney last year? To give you some context, these are the last five ice and fire kind of partnerships between this batting duo:
Pant-Pujara 50-plus stands in Tests
|For wkt||Runs||In||Out||Inns||Opposition||Ground||Start Date|
|4||148||3/102||4/250||4||v Australia||Sydney||7 Jan 2021|
|5||119||4/73||5/192||2||v England||Chennai||5 Feb 2021|
|6||89||5/329||6/418||1||v Australia||Sydney||3 Jan 2019|
|4||61||3/167||4/228||4||v Australia||Brisbane||15 Jan 2021|
|5||53||4/142||5/195||2||v Australia||Sydney||7 Jan 2021|
|4||50*||3/75||3/125||3||v England||Birmingham||1 Jul 2022|
India are not completely out of the woods in this match yet but another hour or two from this duo on Monday will add both time and scoreboard pressure on England.
Watch Day 3 highlights here: