IND v ENG: India ends day at 451/7; Kohli scores another ton

The eighth wicket pair of Kohli and Yadav, which has added 87 runs so far, will aim to stretch India’s lead in order to put England under pressure on a fourth-day wicket.

Virat Kohli celebrates on completing his century. The Indian skipper's classy unbeaten 147 forced England on to the backfoot.   -  PTI

Murali Vijay acknowledges the cheers of the crowd after scoring his eighth Test century.   -  AP

>Virat Kohli has been batting with supreme confidence these days. In the presence of a near full house at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday, the Indian captain showed his class with a strokeful unbeaten 147 that forced England on to the backfoot.

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Coming in after >Cheteshwar Pujara’s unexpected and peculiar dismissal by Jake Ball off the second ball of the day, Kohli countered England’s spinners for almost six hours in a typically assertive manner. The chance that he offered to leg-spinner >Adil Rashid, who got into his rhythm in the second session of the third day’s play, was perhaps the only blemish in his long and purposeful innings that took his team to 451 for seven by the close of play. Kohli, on 72 then, had driven Rashid hard and straight but the bowler failed to hold on to the difficult chance.

The England vice-captain, Joe Root, described it as half-chance, but it allowed Kohli to more than double his score and, importantly, put India ahead by 51 runs.

Earlier, opener >Murali Vijay continued with his steadfast approach to complete his eighth Test century. Vijay’s dismissal after lunch set off a collapse, but with >Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav rising to the occasion, showing the true worth of the lower order, India managed to get out of the mire caused by the quick fall of wickets.

Vijay hit a full toss back to the bowler after making a wonderful century; Karun Nair was adjudged out leg before following a DRS review; Parthiv Patel edged to wicketkeeper Bairstow and >Ravichandran Ashwin was caught by Keaton Jones at forward short-leg. After a bright 262 for two, India declined swiftly to 307 for six, with none of the wickets falling to either a leaping or a turning ball. Barring Ashwin, who spent just eight minutes at the crease and faced three balls, the rest of the Indian batsmen faced the spinners, Rashid and Moeen Ali — who often resorted to bowling a negative line round the wicket — with assurance.

Much to everyone’s surprise the England captain, >Alastair Cook, started the day’s proceeding with the lanky seamer Ball and not >Jimmy Anderson or Chris Woakes. Ball did have his moments when he caused a smidgen of doubt in Pujara’s mind, forcing the batsman to stretch forward, shoulder arms and leave the ball that was gaining height. The ball bounced just that much to hit the top of the off stump after brushing Pujara’s front pad.

England’s joy, however, turned out to be short-lived as Vijay and Kohli sized up the situation, used their feet back and across and down the pitch to score runs easily off the spinners.

Initially, the England bowlers tried to force Kohli into making an error by pitching the ball around the off-stump. In good form and coming into the fourth Test with an average of a little over 100, Kohli responded beautifully by cutting, and executing lovely shots behind point.

Vijay, on his part, stepped out and lifted Ali for a straight six. He employed the sweep shot and cover drove the off-spinner to accelerate the scoring. India added 101 runs in the first two hours for the loss of Pujara’s wicket.

Vijay’s dismissal happened much against the run of play. He and Kohli had raised 133 runs after dominating Ali and Rashid. They raised hopes of the home team posting a formidable total on Saturday itself. However, as it transpired, five wickets fell in a heap, after which Jadeja and Yadav showed the inclination to play the supporting role to near perfection. After being calm for about an hour, Jadeja took on Rashid and perished.

Yadav, who survived a DRS, has stayed with his skipper for more than one and a half hours. The eighth wicket pair, which has added 87 runs so far, will aim to stretch India’s lead in order to put England under pressure on a fourth-day wicket.