Nottingham : India had their collective best day of the Test series despite the rare instance of Virat Kohli (97) failing to convert a half-century and Ajinkya Rahane falling in the 80s.
Asked to bat in the most even bat-ball contest of the series, India showed all-round improvement.
The openers added 60, India rediscovered some of their back-foot batting, and then Kohli and Rahane put on India’s highest partnership in the country since the 2002 tour, debutant Rishabh Pant got off to a bright start, and India ended up with a comfortable 307 for 6 on the board with four wickets in hand.
England were left debating the wisdom of two decisions: Picking Adil Rashid over Sam Curran, and then deciding to bowl. There can be two reasons for the latter decision.
Either England feel the only life in this pitch was to be had in the first session or they got ahead of themselves and expected India to roll over.
The second seemed likelier given the second new ball zipped around towards the end of the day’s play, but India had scored plenty by then.
England’s fielding continued to let them down, taking their drops count this series to 10.
At the tea break, Kohli (51) and Rahane (53) went back undivided after forging a 107-run fourth wicket stand as the visitors ended their first wicketless session in the series so far.
Resuming the second session at 82/3 on a surface, which started to settle down under the sun, Kohli and Rahane played out the initial few overs from the pacers with utmost caution before cutting loose as soon as leg-spinner Adil Rashid was brought into the attack.
Kohli was his usual confident self, mostly chanceless and enjoyed the company of the Mumbaikar, who showed enough signs of being at his best.
Rashid’s introduction into the attack lit up the Indian pair’s eyes, striking frequent boundaries, that saw the leggie’s figures swell up to 29 runs from his five overs.
The Indian duo did well to take the attack back to the opposition, prompting Kohli to get to his 18th Test fifty of 74 balls before Rahane struck Chris Woakes for a boundary to bring up his 13th fifty.
Earlier, after being put to bat in the opening session, India squandered a 60-run steady opening stand to lose three quick wickets of Shikhar Dhawan (35), Lokesh Rahul (23) and Cheteshwar Pujara (14) within a span of 22 runs, thanks to a disciplined spell from Woakes.