Kohli century sets up mammoth task for England

Whatever else happens on this tour, one thing is for certain: Virat Kohli's struggles of 2014 will soon be a distant, hazy memory.

Virat Kohli scored his second hundred of the series – and 23rd overall – as India moved into an impregnable position in the third Test at Trent Bridge.   -  AFP

Whatever else happens on this tour, one thing is for certain: Virat Kohli's struggles of 2014 will soon be a distant, hazy memory. Four years ago, he managed all of 134 runs from 10 innings. This time, he has 440 from six. On Monday, Kohli scored his second hundred of the series – and 23rd overall – as India moved into an impregnable position in the third Test at Trent Bridge.

It was a day when the visiting batsmen had only one thing on their minds: the relentless, unhurried accumulation of runs. This they achieved, with Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara in the vanguard, as India declared on a mammoth lead of 520 late on the third day. It left England nine tricky overs to face before the close of play.

Despite much pressure from the fielding side, Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings got to stumps unscathed, their side 23 without loss. But with two full days left in the game, any result other than an Indian triumph would be a miracle.

Kohli and Pujara were, understandably, in no rush to score in the morning. India resumed play on 124 for two and the pair knuckled down in the face of controlled, disciplined English bowling. In the midst of a sustained spell of pressure, the tireless James Anderson drew an edge from Pujara only for Jos Buttler to shell the catch at second slip. The ball went quickly to his left but Buttler ought to have gone with two hands instead of one. Anderson has been cruelly let down by his fielders this series.

A sigh of relief for Pujara

Pujara was on 40 then and a little later he pushed uncertainly – the curtain-rail shot they call it here – at a ball from Ben Stokes. The Saurashtra man did not look pretty or convincing, but he survived. Pujara completed his fifty off 147 balls, with a single off Stuart Broad; it was only his second half-century in 13 Test innings.

The effort will have come as an immense relief to the batsman who, having been dropped for the first Test, managed scores of 1 and 17 in the second. And all this on the back of a poor summer for Yorkshire in the County Championship (a top score of 41 in 12 innings). India will hope the knock represents the end of what has been a fallow period for one of its lynchpins.

More than plenty in hand

Only 24 runs came off the day's first 15 overs, but the batting side did not care. It was important to keep England in the field and wear its bowlers down. With much time left in the game, there was little reason to make haste. Kohli, who had just seen an inside edge whistle past his leg-stump, as if to illustrate the point that batsmen are never truly comfortable in these conditions, soon raised his fifty as India went into lunch having added 70 runs in 29 overs.

Forty minutes after the restart, Stokes broke through, removing Pujara for a watchful 72. The batsman had pushed forward in defence, but had been surprised a little by the bounce. At the other end, Kohli carried on, running hard between the wickets (39 singles, nine twos and two threes he ran, in all) and punishing loose deliveries, of which there were a few from Adil Rashid.

Minutes after tea, Kohli was dropped on 93, the ball just going through Jennings's legs at gully. Anderson, to no-one's surprise, was the victim again. Kohli got to his hundred in the next over, an edge off Chris Woakes racing to the third-man boundary. He was out leg-before to the same bowler not long after, for 103. The lead had already swollen to 449 at this stage and next Hardik Pandya, who had the license to attack, clouted a run-a-ball 52. India declared on 352, which should ideally be more than plenty.