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India in trouble despite half centuries by Pujara, Pant

Chennai: India were tottering at 257 for six despite contrasting half centuries by Cheteswar Pujara and left handed Rishab Pant, at close on the third day of the first cricket test against England here today.

At stumps left hander Washington Sundar, who won accolades for his batting skills in Brisbane, was on 33
(68 balls, 5×4) and R.Ashwin (8, 54 balls).

The two, who came together after the exit of Pujara (73, 143 balls 11×4) and Pant (91, 88 balls, 9×4, 5×6)
in quick succession, defied the England pacers and spinners adding 32 runs in 17.2 overs.

For England off spinner Dom Bess claimed four wickets and Speedster Jofra Archer who picked up two early
wickets, removing the openers in a fiery spell.

Earlier, England, resuming at 555 for 8, added 23 runs and were all out for 578 immediately after the third new ball was taken in the 186th over with Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin bagging a wicket each to finish with three
wickets each.

With two full days remaining, India faces an uphill task as they still trail by 321 runs and needed to score 122 runs to avoid the follow-on and make England bat again.

Faced with a mammoth total, India were off to a bad start losing both the openers quickly. Rohit Sharma,
after flicking speedster Jofra Archer to the mid wicket fence, prodded outside the off stump to a
delivery that had a hint of movement and bounce and the edge was taken by wicket keeper Jos Butler.

Another opener young Shubman Gill sparkled briefly, appeared in fine touch and timed the ball well,
hitting five exquisitely timed fours in his 28-ball 29, before he chipped Archer and was brilliantly
caught by a diving James Anderson at mid on as India slid to 44 for two in the 10th over.

After lunch, India lost two more quick wickets as the pitch showed signs of wearing, with the ball stopping,
drifting and bouncing, but still looked good for batting.

Dom Bess flighted the ball well and drew the batsmen forward and in the process accounted for both skipper
Virat Kohli (11) and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane (one) in a span of ten deliveries.

Kohli was drawn forward to a flighted delivery which bounced and the inside edge was held by Ollie Pope
at forward short leg and Rahane, who stepped out to a ball that dipped, was undone by a superb catch by
England skipper Joe Root, who dived full stretch to his left to take a one handed catch at covers as
India were staring the barrel at 73 for four.

However, Pant, undeterred by the situation, counter attacked and targetted the spinners, especially left armer Jack Leach, hoisting him for four sixers, with Pujara too taking on him, picking boundaries by using his feet well.

Application is the key and it was amply demonstrated by Pujara, who was hailed for his monumental stay at
the crease in the series Down Under where he faced 928 balls keeping the bowlers at bay.

While Pujara held fort at one end, Pant as his usual self played an entertaining knock, counter attacked
and scored at a brisk pace.

With Pujara and Pant rebuilding the innings and the runs were coming crisply, the former fell much against
the run of play and in a bizarre manner.

Pujara, who was well set for a big score, pulled a short ball and Pope at forward short leg on the firing line ducked to avoid getting hit.

The ball hit his shoulder and ballooned to Rory Burns at short mid wicket, bringing an end to a fine innings during which he added 119 runs with Pant for the fifth wicket in 145 balls.

Clearly Pujara was not at fault. It was a great shot that unluckily rebounded from the shoulder of the evading short leg fielder as a visibly upset Pujara slapped his bat against his pad.

Pant continued with his attacking instinct but the same tactic proved to be his undoing. After doing all the hard work, Pant was well set for a hundred, before he holed out Bess to long off.

Pant, who reached his eighth half century in 40 balls became subdued for a while and started picking runs at a good pace, once again showed that exuberance turned exasperation.

However, Washington Sundar and Ashwin ensured that there was no further loss. Following is the scoreboard :

England (first innings) : 578.

India (first innings) :

Rohit Sharma c Butler b Jofra Archer 6
Shubman Gill c James Anderson b Jofra Archer 29
Cheteswar Pujara c Burns b Dom Bess 73
Virat Kohli c Pope b Dom Bess 11
Ajinkya Rahane c Root b Dom Bess 1
Rishab Pant c Jack Leach b Dom Bess 91
Washington Sundar (batting) 33

R Ashwin (batting) 8
Extras : (B-4, LB-1) 5
Total : 257 for six in 74 overs.
Fall of wickets : 1-19, 2-44, 3-71, 4-73, 5-192, 6-225,

Bowling :

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

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