India vs. England first Test | Bess has the Indians in a spin, puts England in the driver’s seat

Indian players Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant running between the wickets during the 3rd day of first cricket Test match between India and England, at MA Chidambaram Stadium ,in Chennai on February 7.   | Photo Credit: PTI

A natural riding on his skills, he shimmied down and struck the ball with brutal force. It was a thrill ride while it lasted. Actually, it seemed Rishabh Pant was batting without a care in the world.

But then, cricket is a many-layered game. It is deeply tactical and a batsman’s seemingly reckless ways could actually be a thoughtful yet brave response to a challenge.

Distinct threat

Left-arm spinner Jack Leach was a distinct threat to the left-handers, getting the ball to jump into the batsman from the developing rough outside the off-stump from over the wicket.

And how did the explosive Pant respond? He danced down to Leach, took the rough out of the equation, and blasted the ball for sixes between long-on and mid-wicket.

Indeed, Pant’s 88-ball 91 was the highlight of the third day’s play even as England, led by off-spinner Dom Bess’ four-wicket haul, took a firm grip on the first Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

Replying to England’s mammoth 578, India was 257 for six at stumps. Washington Sundar, stroking the ball with a left-hander’s elegance and grace, was batting on 33, along with R. Ashwin, on eight.

Earlier, Cheteshwar Pujara’s well-made 73 — he drove crisply through covers and mid-wicket — was ended by a stroke of ill-luck when his full blooded pull off Bess bounced off Ollie Pope to Rory Burns at short mid-wicket.

With the pitch expected to deteriorate, India will have a demanding job saving this Test.

Bess will be a distinct threat. The off-spinner was impressive on day three imparting revs on the ball and getting it to dip, drift and turn.

Gem of a delivery

He consumed Virat Kohli with a beautiful delivery that drifted and turned. The Indian captain pushed forward and was picked up smartly by Pope at short-leg. It was a classic off-spinner’s dismissal.

The loop in Bess’ delivery was the principal reason Ajinkya Rahane miscued a low full toss and Joe Root, diving to his left, much like a goalkeeper, held a sensational catch at short-cover.

Pant also was done in by the dip, as he charged Bess, could not get to the ball’s pitch, and holed out to deep cover.

Before his third dismissal in the 90s in Tests, Pant delighted wiqth his terrific bat speed, powerful wrists, astonishing power and fascinating footwork. And Leach took a pounding.

Pant is an enforcer and while he is in the middle, it appears a different game altogether. The opposition’s mind-set changes from picking wickets to stemming the flow of runs.

Earlier, the rhythmic Jofra Archer struck twice in a red hot opening burst. Rohit Sharma, playing away from his body, nicked one with good carry that left him. And Shubman Gill (29), oozing class off his legs, checked his shot and was well held by a sprawling James Anderson at mid-on.

As the day wore on, Washington batted with style, conjuring two flowing cover-drives, off Ben Stokes and Leach. However, he could have fallen to Leach when on 25 had Archer held on to a skier running with his back to the ball from mid-on.

The lasting image of the day was Pant dancing down to Leach. What a champion!

Scoreboard at lunch on the third day of the opening Test:

England 1st Innings: 578 all out in 190.1 overs (Joe Root, 218, Dominic Sibley 87, Ben Stokes 82; Jasprit Bumrah 3/84, R Ashwin 3/146, Ishant Sharma 2/52).

India 1st Innings: Rohit Sharma c Buttler b Archer 6 Shubman Gill c Anderson b Archer 29 Cheteshwar Pujara c Rory Burns b Dom Bess 73 Virat Kohli c Ollie Pope b Dom Bess 11 Ajinkya Rahane c Root b Dom Bess 1 Rishabh Pant c Jack Leach b Dom Bess 91 Washington Sundar not out 33 Ravichandran Ashwin not out 8

Extras: (B-4, LB-1) 5

Total: (6 wkts, 74 Overs) 257

Fall of Wickets: 19-1, 44-2, 71-3, 73-4, 192-5, 225-6.

James Anderson 11-3-34-0, Jofra Archer 16-3-52-2, Ben Stokes 6-1-16-0, Jack Leach 17-2-94-0, Dominic Bess 23-5-55-4, Joe Root 1-0-1-0.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 2:34:17 PM |

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