India bowled with a lot of perseverance to restrict England to 268 for 8 despite a defiant 89 from Jonny Bairstow on the first day of the third Test here on Saturday.
On a slow track, the home team bowlers maintained a disciplined line and length only to face resistance from England’s wicketkeeper-batsman, who forged couple of important partnerships — 57 for the fifth wicket with Ben Stokes and 69 for the sixth wicket with comeback-man Jos Buttler (43).
With the Mohali track not among the most batting-friendly pitches, Bairstow showed steely temperament and admirable technique against India’s spin trio and faced 177 balls hitting six fours in the process. A well-deserved century was denied when Jayant Yadav (2/49 in 15 overs) flighted one that had turn and drift to find him leg before.
Umesh Yadav (2/58 in 16 overs), who bowled a lethal delivery first up to remove opener Haseeb Hamid (9), delivered a beauty with the second new ball to get rid of Chris Woakes (25 off 70 balls).
The stodgy Woakes also provided some support to Bairstow and the duo added 45 runs for the seventh wicket.
Ravichandran Ashwin (1/43 in 18 overs), Mohammed Shami (1/52) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/56 in 21 overs) were the other wicket-takers for the home team.
Bairstow, who has been England’s top run-getter in Test cricket in the past one year, mixed caution with occasional aggression en route his 13th half-century in Test cricket. He reached for the pitch of the deliveries to hit three cover drives, rocked on the backfoot to strike a cut shot. Bairstow was also not afraid to play the paddle sweep when spinners decided to bowl the fuller length.
The post lunch to tea session proved to be productive for England as they scored 113 runs losing only one wicket. It was more due to the comfort that Buttler displayed while facing the spinners as his 43 off 80 balls had five boundaries.
However, England went into the final session with Bairstow suddenly getting into the shell and that increased pressure on Buttler to up the ante.
He misjudged the length of a flighted delivery from Jadeja and Indian skipper Kohli took a fine low catch diving at mid-off.
India pressed hard in the final session and the defensive mindset again led to England’s downfall as only 63 runs came off 28 overs. For India, however, the session yielded three wickets. In all, save the wickets taken by Umesh, the others were a result of bad shots and pressure that visitors put on themselves.
Earlier, a disciplined bowling effort coupled with atrocious shot selection enabled India to blow away the English top-order in the first session.
Despite some fielding errors, the hosts managed to get rid of skipper Alastair Cook (27), young Haseeb Hameed (9), batting mainstay Joe Root (15) and Moeen Ali (16) in the morning session after the visitors elected to bat.
Bairstow douses fire ‘Stoked’ by Virat’s send-off
The British media’s no love lost attitude towards Virat Kohli was evident once again as they tried to ask questions about Indian captain’s exchange of words with Ben Stokes after the latter’s dismissal but performer of the day Jonny Bairstow was in mood to fan the fire.
The incident happened during the 44th over in the post lunch session. TV replays showed Virat giving Stokes, who is also feisty character, a send-off. The England all-rounder stopped and turned back to reply as umpire Marais Erasmus had a word with the Indian captain.
When Bairstow was asked about whether send-offs are in good taste referring to the Virat-Stokes incident, the wicketkeeper-batsman said, “It depends on what context what it is said. I actually didn’t hear anything to be very honest with you with a lot of squealing people in the crowd and screaming. The exact words that were said, I wouldn’t be able to put my finger on. It’s something that’s probably going more out of the game. We are adults and that’s something that comes with or against playing sport and I am sure there have been some hiccups. But I don’t know what was said as I don’t get involved with all that stuff.”
While Bairstow gave an elaborate reply, Umesh was evasive at best when one among the visiting media asked the same question. “Seriously, I don’t have an idea as to what happened as I was not there. I don’t know what the umpire said to Virat and Stokes. No idea, what the communication was.”