Chennai; Rishabh Pant’s 91 and Cheteshwar Pujara’s 73 helped India recover from 73 for 4 but England had the last laugh on the Day 3 of first Test at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday.
England reduced India to 257 for 6 with Dom Bess claiming 4 wickets conceding only 55 runs. Then, Rishabh Pant’s beautiful edge-of-the-seat hitting ended with his now customary indiscretions putting India under the pump against a supremely confident England gunning for victory.
At Stumps on Day 3, India were 257 for 6 in reply to England’s massive first innings score of 578 with 122 runs still needed to avoid the follow-on after Cheteshwar Pujara (73 off 143 balls) and Rishabh Pant (91 off 88 balls) added 119 runs for the fifth wicket.
Washington Sundar (33 batting, 68 balls), primarily a batsman converted into a specialist off-spinning option, was trying to make amends for the poor show with the ball in company of Ravichandran Ashwin (8 batting, 54 balls), who is never tired of a good on-field scrap.
With a couple of days’ play left, it will be interesting to see if England team management decides to give its bowlers some respite if it gets a chance to enforce the follow-on. The day belonged to the current toast of the Indian team, Pant, who smashed five towering sixes — all in the arc between long-on and deep mid-wicket off left-arm spinner Jack Leach (17 -2 -94 -0).
What Pant showed on Sunday was pure, unadulterated contempt. Leach wanted to target the rough outside Pant’s off-stump but every time the visitor tossed it up, the stocky man from Roorkee came out like a raging bull — who had been shown the red rag — and hit the spinner with the turn into the Chepauk stands.
The wicketkeeper-batsman dazzled with his brilliance and then in an annoying manner, forgot that discretion is always the better part of valour while trying to hit off-spinner Dom Bess (23-5-55-4) over extra cover.
Brief scores: England 578 all out (Joe Root 218, Dom Sibley 87; Jasprit Bumrah 3/84) vs India 257/6 (Rishabh Pant 91, Cheteshwar Pujara 73; Dom Bess 4/55). Match to continue