Mohali: Indian batsmen, including flamboyant and in-form skipper Virat Kohli, were made to toil hard before Ravichandran Ashwin’s counter-attacking 57 enabled the hosts to reach 271/6 at stumps on the second day of the third cricket Test here.
India are only 12 runs behind England’s first innings score of 283 after the visitors added 15 to their overnight tally of 268 for 8.
It was an intriguing day of Test cricket and hosts can claim that their nose is slightly ahead thanks to the 67-run stand for the 7th wicket between Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who also smashed a quick-fire 31 not out off 59 balls.
India’s ‘Man Friday’ was Ashwin, who again played his part albeit with the willow reaching his 9th half-century in Test cricket.
Ashwin’s sequence of scores in the series reads 70, 32, 57, 7 and 57 not out (ongoing). His innings was studded with eight fours off 81 balls. Jadeja’s knock had three fours and a six.
The day’s play can be called a battle of attrition with skipper Kohli curbing his aggressive stroke-play, having read the pitch really well during his patient 62 off 127 balls.
It had nine fours and the partnership of 75 with Cheteshwar Pujara (51 off 104 balls) is the highest in the innings so far. However, Pujara was out trying to pull a long-hop and Ajinkya Rahane’s (0) wretched form continued.
He failed to read a googly from England’s most successful bowler Adil Rashid (3/66 in 21 overs). Karun Nair (4) also had an inauspicious debut as he was run-out.
Ben Stokes (2/48) was the other successful bowler for England. Knowing Kohli’s propensity to drive through off-side, skipper Alastair Cook removed the slips and packed the cordon four fielders with his bowlers maintaining the channel.
While Kohli got nine boundaries utilising the loose deliveries, England were successful in drying up the runs. Kohli’s battle with Stokes was also another highlight of the day.
At the start of his innings, Kohli hit Stokes for back-to-back boundaries — through mid-off and and a flick off his hips. He also hit some glorious drives of off-spinner Gareth Batty and leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
When Rashid bowled a long hop it was promptly pulled towards mid-wicket fence.
But as runs dried up, Kohli wanted to use the glide shot through the vacant third man region. Stokes did well to pitch it in the channel and the faint edge was taken by Jonny Bairstow.
To make a point, Stokes celebrated the dismissal by making a gesture of ‘sealed lips’ referring that he won’t sledge the Indian skipper.