England vs. India 5th Test: Pujara Fifty Puts India In Driving Position

In the fifth Test, on the third day of play, India’s renowned fast bowling unit bowled England out for 284 runs before the hosts managed to get a foot in the door by dismissing the top order cheaply. 

India was 125 for 3 in their second innings at the time of stumps, with Cheteshwar Pujara (50 batting, 139 balls), who battled with the flashy Rishabh Pant, showcasing his brave persona (30 batting, 46 balls). There were 257 runs in the lead overall.

However, the visitors will feel uneasy heading into the final day when Shubman Gill (4), Hanuma Vihari (11), and Virat Kohli (20) are dismissed.

When opposing captain Ben Stokes got one to rear up off a length, no batter would have survived such delivery with less than a split second of response time, and Kohli, as usual, received the greatest delivery of the whole third day of play.

While defending from 17 yards and answering the probing questions that James Anderson kept posing, Kohli, standing a good two feet outside the batting crease, was putting his best foot forward. However, as luck would have it, that delivery outside the off-stump had his name written.

Pujara engaged in his customary waiting game, sometimes cutting square when given room to do so. Conversely, Pant combined prudence with assertiveness, and if he remains for an hour on the fourth morning, he will entirely reverse the situation.

India has recently never lost a Test match after gaining a 100-run or more lead. Still, the current England team, playing with Brendon McCullum’s ‘Bazball’ (relentless assault) attitude, has made a joke of almost 300-run chases.

India wants to win the match by scoring at least 275 in their second essay and giving England a target of at least 400 plus.

In a Test match, the third day is known as the “moving day,” That is precisely what happened as England scored runs at a blistering 4.61 runs per over thanks to Jonny Bairstow’s counterattacking third hundred in as many games (106 off 140 balls).

Bairstow’s attack, which netted him 14 boundaries and two sixes, was quick but nasty.

But in keeping with India’s strategy in recent years, the trio of Mohammed Shami (2/78 in 22 overs), Mohammed Siraj (4/66 in 11.3 overs), and captain Jaspreet Bumrah (3/68 in 19 overs) kept up the pressure to secure a sizable lead of 132 runs.

Bairstow took Shardul Thakur (1/48) to task, but Thakur’s joyful knack for getting vital dismissals allowed him to remove Stokes (25) just as the partnership of 66 was in jeopardy.

Kohli sledges and Bairstow hammers

After receiving a heavy slapping from Kohli in the morning session, Bairstow (106 off 140 balls) hammered the Indian assault.

The England hitter wasn’t one to take Kohli’s criticism of his “play and miss” strategy lying down, and the Indian captain had something to say to Bairstow about it.

READ MORE: England vs India 5th Test: Pant, Jadeja rescue India after a top-order collapse

Following the incident, Bairstow began taking chances with his strokes, lofting several of them over mid-off and clipping a couple toward the mid-wicket boundary.

Ian Bishop, a well-known pundit, tweeted, “Don’t poke the Bear that is Johnny Bairstow again please,” while Virender Sehwag made fun of Kohli for making Bairstow change from “Pujara to Pant.”

Bairstow did play and miss in the first 20 minutes of the morning despite seeming to be laboring in the last hour of the second day.

Bumrah, though, had a variety of alternatives in front of the wicket after he continued to assault the field.

While Bairstow dealt Stokes a severe beating with a ramp shot and a square drive, Thakur claimed the desired scalp of Stokes.

Off of Siraj’s bowling, there was also a majestic pick-up pull for a maximum.

Before India came back in the next session, the morning session belonged to England, and Thakur’s bowling produced two more sixes.

Bumrah creats pressure, and Siraj reaps the benefits

Bairstow abruptly withdrew himself after smashing Shardul Thakur (1/48 in 7 overs) past cover point to clinch his 11th Test century off 119 balls and third in as many games.

Jasprit Bumrah, the captain, had a dream game as an individual performance (3/68 in 19 overs). He bowled a probing stint, repeatedly thumping the bat.

Following his riot in which he hit 14 boundaries and two sixes, Bairstow only scored six runs off the following 20 balls.

When a fuller ball from Shami was placed on the fourth stump line, Bairstow was forced to take an expansive drive because Bumrah was bottling him up. A leaping Kohli skillfully took the thick edge to make up for his unnecessary interaction with the batsman.

After the 92-run partnership between Bairstow and Sam Billings (36) ended, Siraj bowled quickly and efficiently to get the final three wickets, adding another 43 runs.