Hyderabad: Indian bowlers came up with a collective masterclass to reduce England to 172 for five at tea to hand an unequivocal advantage to India on the third day of the first Test here on Saturday.
Ollie Pope (67 batting) and Ben Foakes (2 batting) were holding the England innings together at the break. The visitors trail by 18 runs after conceding a lead of 190 runs. India’s first innings ended at 436 all out.
There was appreciable turn and grip for Indian spinners and a hint of reverse swing for the pacers, but they displayed the kind of skills to exploit the favourable elements. It was a stunning spectacle too.
Jasprit Bumrah managed to sneak an in-ducker past Ben Duckett (47, 52 balls) from the length as the batter was culpable of playing around the ball, while another incoming delivery that kept low gave little chance to Joe Root.
Root’s attempt to reverse the leg-before decision through DRS too did not yield any result.
Ollie Pope, who generally resembles a cat on a hot tin roof on Indian tracks, looked solid during his fifty, but other batters hardly offered any resistance to the old firm of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Jadeja was the first to get into the act in the post-lunch session, getting rid of Jonny Bairstow (10).
Bairstow negated a ball that turned away from him quite solidly, but the next one from Jadeja went straight and his decision to shoulder arms had a fatal effect on his stint in the middle.
But there was even more magic in the store as Ashwin got the number of England captain Ben Stokes for the 12th time in Test cricket.
Hyderabad: Eng reach 89/1 at lunch on Day 3 after Ind make 436
After getting tied down by three maidens in a row, the left-hander tried to release the pressure going for a forward press but the ball spun past his bat to rattle the stumps. It was the wow moment of the day so far.
It was vastly different from the start of their second innings.
England openers Duckett and Zak Crawley (31) did not panic and went ahead with their duty with determination, continuing the strategy of employing sweep and reverse sweeps to counter Indian spinners.
Crawley even smashed Axar for a six over sightscreen to bring some cheer to the England camp.
But India did not have to wait long for the first breakthrough.
Bowling around the wicket, Ashwin created an angle across Crawley and the right-hander’s defensive prod ended up in a simple catch to Rohit Sharma at first slip.
Earlier, India’s first innings did not last too long once the play resumed in the morning, coming to a close in 54 minutes.
Jadeja could not bring up a much-anticipated fourth Test hundred, falling leg before to Joe Root.
Jadeja went to front foot to defend a length delivery on off-stump, and the ball took a good amount of turn to hit his pads. Umpire Chris Gaffaney raised his finger as Jadeja opted to review the call.
There seemed to be a deflection of the bat but the replays remained inconclusive and the third umpire went with the on-field umpire’s decision.
In the very next ball, Root castled Jasprit Bumrah and Rehan Ahmed cleaned up Axar as India lost the last three wickets without adding any runs.