The fascinating first Test between India and England at Edgbaston hangs beautifully in the balance as India closed day three on 110-5, with Virat Kohli 43 not out, chasing 194 to win.
SCORECARD | AS IT HAPPENED
As many as 14 wickets fell on a bowler-friendly third day, including three in the space of one Ishant Sharma (5-51) over either side of lunch as England collapsed to 87-7 in their second innings under cloud-ridden skies – enough to briefly bring the players off for bad light during the afternoon session.
But a courageous counter-attack from Sam Curran (63), striking nine boundaries and two glorious sixes in his 65-ball stay – the second bringing up his maiden Test fifty – lifted the hosts to a competitive score on a surface offering plenty of assistance.
The notorious Edgbaston crowd, a partisan home support in on day three, whipped up a fervent atmosphere in the evening session, booing Kohli to crease and eagerly willing on Stuart Broad (2-29), in particular, who threatened one of those match-winning spells he has made such a habit of following two early wickets in the space of two overs.
Curran (1-17) added to his stellar day with a strike of his own, while James Anderson (1-33) and Ben Stokes (1-25) too pitched in but, at the other end, Kohli stubbornly resisted everything England threw at him and, perhaps crucially, survived through to stumps.
At the start of the day, the threat to England was posed by wily offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin (3-59) – fresh from having bowled Alastair Cook for the second time in the Test the previous evening – and he swiftly found his stride once more, with two early strikes.
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August 4, 2018, 10:00am
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Keaton Jennings (8) was undone by some subtle turn, shouldering an edge to second slip, while Joe Root (14) flicked one off his hip to leg slip, KL Rahul sharply snapping up both chances.
Shikhar Dhawan also took a tidy catch low, his fingertips nestling beneath the ball from Dawid Malan’s routine outside edge, or so it seemed. Dhawan, honestly, admitted he was not sure, while umpire Aleem Dar was even less convinced, giving a soft signal of not out as it got referred, and was backed up by the third umpire.
It would only cost India three runs, with the unfortunate bowler, Sharma, seeing off Malan (20) soon after with a superb delivery, squaring the left-hander up from round the wicket – a leading edge squirted to gully where Ajinkya Rahane took a terrific diving catch.
Jonny Bairstow, having his own battles against Ashwin at the other end – flirting, on multiple occasions, with the same leg slip trap that was Root’s undoing – ultimately departed for 28, edging Sharma to first slip, with no doubt over the catch carrying to Dhawan this time.
It was the first of three wickets in five balls, separated only by the lunch break, as England fell apart. Stokes (6) edged to the slips for the final act of the morning session and Jos Buttler (1) nicked off the second ball upon the resumption.
But, Curran countered. The 20-year-old allrounder, in only his second Test, batted with the maturity of a 100-Test veteran, first rebuilding with Adil Rashid (16) – a 48-run stand – and then inflicting some lusty blows on India, hitting Ashwin out of the attack with a glorious six over long-on and drilling four next ball. A deserved half-century arrived courtesy of his second maximum, this time swatting Sharma away over extra cover.
Sharma responded by securing an eighth Test five-for with the wicket of Broad (11), before Curran, running out of partners, was the last man to fall, to Umesh Yadav (2-20), signalling tea.
In the final session, Broad, troubled by illness for much of the opening two days, got things going for England, picking up Murali Vijay (6) lbw – Malan a relieved man, having put down Vijay on one, his third dropped catch of the Test – and Dhawan (13), out to a trademark edge behind on the drive in the space of two overs.
It brought Kohli to the crease, and while he answered the naysayers in the crowd in the best way possible, following up his majestic first-innings 149 with another battling knock, wickets continued to fall at the other end.
Stokes found some angle in and nip away to dismiss Rahul (13), the kind of delivery that had so troubled Rahane in the first innings, though this time he fell for two to Curran’s left-arm angle, while Anderson picked up Ashwin (13), the reward his fine spell of bowling so richly deserved; each catch pouched by Bairstow behind the stumps.
The wicket of Kohli would have had England hopeful of perhaps even clinching victory that evening, but the Indian captain and Dinesh Karthik (18no) responsibly saw out the final 12 overs, sending this fascinating Test into a thrilling fourth day.
Watch day four of the first Test between England and India, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Saturday.
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