Ashwin leaves England in dire straits

Ravichandran Ashwin bagged three wickets as the visitor lost its top order with still 56 runs left for England to score if it harbours any hope of making India bat again.

Alastair Cook walks back after losing his bells on a delivery of Ravichandran Ashwin

Facing a delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin, Alastair Cook played for the turn, but found none as the ball held its line and bowled him through the gate.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Alastair Cook defended and was bowled. Moeen Ali slogged and was caught. An Indian review found a squared up Ben Stokes leg-before. Clearly, when it comes to dealing Ravichandran Ashwin, England is yet to figure out an effective way.

> Scorecard

Trailing by 134 runs, England ended day three of the third Test at 78 for four and stared at serious trouble after Ashwin struck thrice at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium here. Still 56 runs behind with six wickets in hand, a desperate England needs to pull off the improbable.

> Day three in pictures

On a day when the India’s lower-order played pace better than the way England’s top-order dealt with spin, Ravindra Jadeja’s 90 and Jayant Yadav’s 55 – career-best for both – followed Ashwin’s 72 as India exceeded all expectations by reaching 417, adding 146 runs to its overnight 271 for six.

Read: >They were bowling boring lines, says Jadeja

From a statistical perspective, for the first time, Indians coming in at No. 7, 8 and 9 scored half-centuries in a Test. As a result, after India lost half its side for 156, the next five wickets contributed 261 runs and that will be hurting England the most.

Following an early tea-interval, England began its second innings. But, soon Ashwin produced his post-tea magic for the second successive day.

If Cook was lucky to be dropped twice in the first innings, this evening he found himself on the right side of the reviews taken by India and England. But he did not last long. Facing a delivery from Ashwin, Cook played for the turn, but found none as the ball held its line and bowled him through the gate. The gap between Cook’s bat and pad was much like the one found by Mohammed Shami at Vizag last week.

 

Moeen Ali holed out for the second time in the match in trying to break the shackles. A simple offering at mid-on to Jayant Yadav ended Moeen’s struggle. Jayant soon added another joyous reason to what turned out to be his best eight days of Test cricket so far. He scalped danger-man Jonathan Bairstow – the highest-scorer with 89 in the first innings – with Parthiv Patel staying low and holding the snick.

All this while, Root held firm. With Haseeb Hameed nursing an injured finger, first-time opener Root cut out his usual stroke-play and stayed alive to fight another day.

But Ashwin was not yet done for the day. He returned for a fresh spell and straightaway spoilt Stokes’ five-wicket party. The delivery spun more than usual, completely squared up left-hander before striking the left knee-roll. The decision followed an India-prompted review.

At this point, Virat Kohli did not miss the opportunity to taunt Stokes. In an obvious response to Stokes’ gesture of covering his mouth with hand after dismissing the Indian captain on Sunday, Kohli placed both index fingers over his lips and with it added another chapter to their ongoing ‘silent’ war.

Apart from Kohli, England is also worried about the impact of Ashwin’s third half-century of the series. Ashwin’s success has inspired Jadeja and Jayant to optimize their batting skills at the highest level.

As a result of gaining confidence, Jadeja went on to play some big strokes – scoring 17 runs including four boundaries in one over from Chris Woakes – to reach 90. However, in the next over, he holed out and became Adil Rashid’s fourth victim.

Like in his debut at Vizag last week, Jayant got a chance to draw attention to his batting with a tidy half-century. In fact, not many are aware that this Haryana all-rounder has two first-class centuries, with 211 against Karnataka in December 2012 as his best.