Free Press Journal

England mount lead despite twin Pankaj strikes


England's Jos Buttler steps away from he crease as India's Pankaj Singh (R)

Manchester: Overnight batsmen Joe Root and Jos Buttler helped England build a sizeable lead when the hosts took lunch at 325 for eight on the third day of the fourth Test here today as Indian medium-pacer Pankaj Singh struck late into the morning session with two wickets.

Starting on the day on 237 for six, Root (77) and Buttler (70) stitched a 134-run seventh-wicket partnership helping the hosts stretch the first innings lead to 173 run3s after a lot play was lost due to rain yesterday.

Pankaj (2-99), who made his debut in the last Test at Southampton, finally took his maiden wicket late in the morning session when he sent Root caught behind on a rising delivery that was sliding down the leg side.

The burly Uttar Pradesh bowler picked his debut wicket after 69.2 overs but it did not take much time for him to pick his second wicket when he got Buttler caught by Cheteshwar Pujara at mid-off.

The figures of other Indian bowlers though were not that impressive as they were made to toil on a day when Root and wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler, who scored his second fifty in his 2nd Test, scored heavily.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-75) and Varun Aaron (3-77) couldn’t add to their tallies from the first two days. Ravindra Jadeja (0-29) was the other bowler deployed as strangely enough Ravichandran Ashwin (0-28) didn’t get a bowl today.

Root and Buttler started off slowly, the former reaching his fifty in the second over of the day, off 103 balls with 5 fours. They added only 14 runs in the first ten overs, as the fielding side waited for the second new ball.

But once they did get it, India were still ineffective having allowed the two batsmen to settle down. Root-Buttler then kicked on and smacked 39 runs in the next ten overs. The 250-run mark came up in the 81st over while their 100-run partnership came up in the 85th over. They were helped along by some poor fielding too as Buttler was given two lives – on 34 and 45 – in this interim.

The first was a tough chance to Virat Kohli at gully, in the 83rd over, with the fielder diving and getting his left-hand to the ball but not latching on.

The second was far easier though, in the 89th over, as Buttler ran back for two-runs but Dhoni failed to collect cleanly from Aaron’s throw and missed a clear run-out chance. Two overs later then, Buttler brought up his half-century off 108 balls, with 6 fours.

The hosts are replying to India’s first innings score of 152 as the five-match series is tied at 1-1.