England remained in control of the third Investec Test Match against India after an intriguing day at the Ageas Bowl ended with the tourists trailing Alastair Cook’s men by 246 runs with 2 first innings wickets remaining.
That meant India need 47 more runs on Wednesday morning if they are to avoid the follow-on, that is if Alastair Cook would want to insert the opposition again with Stuart Broad hinting that would be unlikely after a hard day in the field.
MS Dhoni is the man they will need to remove quickly on the fourth morning as he currently stands on 50 not out along with Mohammed Shami on four with Broad and James Anderson gunning for a five-wicket haul.
Play started in sunshine on the south coast and Chris Woakes joined Anderson in opening the bowling in Southampton and despite bowling with good control the breakthrough didn’t happen until Broad replaced Woakes who quickly removed Cheteshwar Pujara for 24. The batsman couldn’t handle a bouncer by the Nottinghamshire man with debutant Jos Buttler taking the catch behind the stumps.
Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli then made it through until the drinks break as India stood on 75-2. Opener Vijay was soon dismissed though as he dragged the ball onto his own stumps to hand Broad his second wicket of the morning with Ajinkya Rahane joining Kohli at the wicket.
Unfortunately for the hosts and particularly Moeen Ali, Rahane survived until the lunch break, even though replays proved he gloved the ball through to Buttler, Rod Tucker gave him not out to once again reiterate the importance of DRS in test cricket.
India are currently the only nation not to use the Decision Review System which would have upturned Gary Ballance’s wicket yesterday after he was incorrectly given out after reaching 150.
Kohli had a life after lunch after Cook dropped a difficult catch off the bowling of Chris Jordan but five minutes later his luck ran out on 39 after the captain this time clung on to a much easier chance off Anderson at first slip.
Rahane brought up his half-century off 92 balls and India’s 200 in the process with the loss of four wickets but with the clock ticking down to tea Rohit Sharma skied a Moeen Ali ball to Broad who made no mistake to leave the score at tea 214-5.
England’s spinner made it a double strike after removing Rahane shortly after the 20 minute break ahead of the evening session. The in-form batsman was licking his lips when Ali bowled a half-tracker but Rahane could only hit the ball straight up into the hands on sub fielder Sean Parry.
The Hampshire youngster was on the field in place of Ian Bell who had hurt his finger going for a catch earlier in the day. The latest news at the close of play in regards to England’s first innings top scorer had suffered no fracture but had acute bruising.
After finding no further breakthrough Cook decided to take the new ball with Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja at the crease on 238-6 and the pair briefly went on the attack against Anderson and Broad.
However, Anderson soon had his third wicket of the innings after his ‘rival’ Jadeja was caught out and was given lbw for31 which brought in-form Bhuvneshwar Kumar to join his captain.
Kumar went before the close of play after Gary Ballance leapt forward from third slip to catch the Indian as play ended on 323-8, trailing by 246 runs.