Having lost the toss, India skipper Virat Kohli might have indulged the thought of having to bat fourth against England in the third Test that began here on Saturday. However, he showed with his attacking approach that though the spin of coin does matter on such tailor-made wickets, good sides are those that play with positive frame of mind.
Kohli may have lost the toss but he seized the initiative.It was a hurly-burly start to the third Test when Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin handed two lives to in-form England skipper Alastair Cook. Despite such generosity, Cook failed to capitalise on it and India cashed in capturing three wickets, including that of Cook, in just 5.2 overs.
At lunch, England was struggling at 92 for four. Post-lunch, Jonny Bairstow (89) along with Ben Stokes (29) and Joe Buttler (43) steadied the ship as the visitors ended the first day at 268 for eight.
The situation would have been completely different for the hosts, had Kohli’s sloppy fielders not shelled four catches during the course of the day.
Cook (at three then) was dropped in the third over itself at third slip by Jadeja when Mohammed Shami found his outside edge. Umesh Yadav, at the other end, kept getting some good away movement and tested English openers with well-pitched deliveries.Haseeb Hameed, though, was bit unlucky to get a bit awkward bounce from Yadav and Ajinkya Rahane made no mistake at gully.
Kohli, who looked not so pleased with Ashwin after dropping Cook, then handed ball to young off-spinner Jayant Yadav.
And the gamble worked as England’s most dependable batter Joe Root (15) was trapped plumb in-front while trying to play across the line. Ashwin soon came up with Cook’s (27) dismissal in the next over to cheer up his skipper, reducing England to 51 for three.
It was all left to promoted Bairstow to prevent the innings from a complete collapse. And he applied himself completely to fulfil his team management’s instructions. First, he put on a 36-run stand with Moeen Ali before engaging in yet another, of many this season so far, together with Stokes for 57.
Despite witnessing both Ali and Stokes getting out of playing patchy shots, Bairstow never let his guard down and started building yet another partnership with Buttler.
It was the 66-run partnership between the two wicket-keeper batsmen post the mid session which rescued England from 144 for five to past 200 mark. Buttler made a fine comeback with 43, thus saving England the blushes.
Buttler looked a bit nervous towards the beginning but gained in confidence and started playing strokes freely. India wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel, who has made a record of sort by coming back into the team after eight years, dropped Bairstow at 54 off Ashwin to carry on with Indians’ sloppy field work.
Buttler was first to go after an important 61-run partnership with Bairstow before the later made a rare mistake of misjudging the line of Jayant’s delivery.
Cook should thank Jonny Bairstow (89) for continuing his good run with the bat once again this season. Having been England’s most important Test batsman in recent times — at home against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and then in South Africa, Bangladesh and now in India — Bairstow is the leading run-getter in 2016 despite the presence of Cook and Joe Root in the side.
In fact, his dominance is such that there is about a hundred-run difference between him and Root this season so far, and that too batting mostly at No. 7.