Mohali: Indian bowlers toiled hard without much success in the second session as Jonny Bairstow hit a resolute unbeaten 66 to take England to 205 for five at tea on the first day of the third cricket Test, here.
Having cleaned up the top four in the first session, the Indian bowlers only got Ben Stokes (29) in the second session with Ravindra Jadeja (1/36) adding his name to the wicket-taker’s list.
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 was batting on 66 off 126 balls with five boundaries to his credit. Bairstow had company in mercurial Jos Buttler (38), who was ready for the grind having added 61 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket.
The session belonged to England who scored 113 runs and lost only one wicket.
A 57-run partnership with Stokes did repair the damage but more was expected from the all-rounder who followed colleagues playing an inappropriate shot at an inopportune time.
Well-set at 29 with five boundaries, Stokes came out as Jadeja altered the length dragging it short. He played inside the line and comeback man Parthiv Patel completed the stumping.
There were some words exchanged between Kohli and Stokes after the dismissal but umpire Marais Erasmus nipped it in the bud. Bairstow, however, showed good technique against the spinners along with a steely temperament that has made him one of England’s ‘Go To’ Man on this tour.
He reached to the pitch of the deliveries hitting three cover drives, rocked on the backfoot to hit a cut shot while he was not afraid to play the paddle sweep when spinners decided to bowl fuller length.
Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jayant Yadav and Mohammed Shami were the other wicket-takers for home team.
Earlier disciplined bowling effort coupled with atrocious shot selection enabled India 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.
While the pitch is not the easiest one to bat, barring Hameed, who got out to a good delivery, skipper Cook and the talented Root should be cursing themselves for poor shots that they played.
Umesh bowled at a brisk pace and young Hameed started confidently as he was again playing his patient game for the first 30 balls.
The final delivery of the 10th over saw Umesh pitch one on three quarter length. The ball reared up awkwardly leaving Hameed in no position as it hit the gloves and Ajinkya Rahane standing at gully took easiest of catches.
Cook was showing positive intent as he smashed six boundaries in his 27. Shami should consider himself unlucky as Cook was dropped on 3 by Ravindra Jadeja at third slip. Cook flashed it hard and the ball flew even before Jadeja could react. A reflex catch but it was a chance that was missed.
On 23, it was an easier one when Cook flicked straight to Ashwin standing at mid-wicket but the ball popped out off his palms. It was a regulation catch that went abegging. As if to punish Shami, Cook pulled the next delivery for a boundary.
It took Jayant Yadav seven balls to get a breakthrough as it was more about Root’s indiscretion. Yadav bowled an off-break slightly short of length as Root instinctively committed to play a pull shot.
He was yet to get his eye in before trying a wild shot across the line. He missed it and was caught plumb in-front.
The scoreboard reading 51 for 2 got worse as Ashwin made amends for his fielding error. It was another shortish off-break and unlike Root who went for the pull, Cook went for the cut shot. The shot was on but the execution went awry with his faint edge being taken by an ecstatic Patel behind the stumps.
But it was astute captaincy from Kohli that led to Moeen’s downfall. Knowing his weakness against short ball, Kohli positioned a single man Murali Vijay at fine leg boundary. Shami bowled a lovely short pitched delivery that climbed on Moeen who went for the hook shot and Vijay gleefully accepted the catch. A plan well executed.