Merciless India bat England into oblivion in third Test

Chief tormentor Virat Kohli puts India on course to reduce series arrears to 2-1

India’s Virat Kohli celebrates his century. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

India’s Virat Kohli celebrates his century. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

 

England’s plight predictably worsened on day three at Trent Bridge as Virat Kohli applied a merciless slow grind in the third Specsavers Test.

Kohli (103) was entirely unhurried over his 23rd Test century as he and Cheteshwar Pujara (72) batted the hosts into apparent oblivion.

The India captain fell three short of three figures in the first innings – but with a little timely good fortune, he got the job done at the second attempt as the tourists piled up 352 for seven declared to leave England a highly improbable mission to set a new world record run chase.

Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings at least held their nerve to reach 23 without loss in nine overs of discomfort under lights up to stumps, in notional pursuit of 521 to win.

That is 103 more than any team in history has made for Test victory, though, and India are bang on course to reduce their series arrears to 2-1.

England had made their own trouble the previous day, of course, when they lost all 10 wickets in a remarkable afternoon collapse.

On the resumption, with India already 124 for two, they duly reaped what they had sown as Kohli engaged with zero urgency but characteristic determination on his own long-term brief to compound England’s problems.

He did so first in a century stand with back-to-form Pujara, who had the perfect opportunity to bat time too – and duly shut England out for 208 balls before he was caught at slip as Ben Stokes found extra bounce.

By then, for good measure, England had also lost the services of their wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who suffered a “small fracture” to his left middle finger when he failed to take a delivery from James Anderson cleanly, and was therefore replaced behind the stumps by Jos Buttler.

The consolation was that England hope Bairstow will be able to bat when he is inevitably badly needed at some point over the final two days.

Gleeful tormentor

It was tempting to perceive a certain glee in the torment Kohli was exacting – all the more so when his century arrived, with a steer past gully off Chris Woakes for his 10th four from 191 balls.

Shortly beforehand, as if to confirm England were shredded by their miserable experience, Jennings let a straightforward gully chance slip through his fingers as Kohli moved from 93 to 97 with a thick edge on a drive at Anderson.

Kohli’s century celebration was predictably wholehearted, but he stayed little longer before Woakes had him LBW – a departure delayed but never likely to be postponed by a DRS procedure which demonstrated umpire’s call impact with an extremity of leg stump.

Rishabh Pant swiftly followed, edging the tireless Anderson for Cook’s second slip catch of the innings.

But Ajinkya Rahane, who had sat in alongside Kohli in what became a painstaking 29 from 94 balls, and the more adventurous Hardik Pandya (52no) continued remorselessly.

The only question was whether Kohli would declare to put England’s wearied batsmen under the microscope, or toy a little longer over the end game.

Even after Adil Rashid bowled Rahane with a googly, he did not cut to the chase until Pandya had brought the 500 lead up with a straight six off the leg-spinner on his way to a run-a-ball 50 to add to his five-wicket haul.

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