Kohli, Pujara nudge India's lead past 300


In a slow-moving, wicketless first session on a muggy morning in Nottingham, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara got comfortable in the absence of any considerable movement for the England fast bowlers and nudged India’s lead past the 300-run mark. After scoring at exactly four-an-over in the 31 overs on Day 2, Pujara and Kohli showed no real urgency on Day 3, while England ran into dead-ends in their attempt to force a change of the direction of a game that’s currently tilted India’s way.

Even a bit of uneven bounce early on for the England fast bowlers didn’t make any difference, as James Anderson ran in and delivered maiden overs without being able to earn a breakthrough. His seven-over spell went for seven runs while bowling in tandem with Chris Woakes. To make matters worse for the hosts, wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow took a blow to his fingers on the left hand off an Anderson delivery that swung late, and forced him off the field. Bairstow looked in a lot of pain as he walked off, and the latest update was that he needed x-ray to check the extent of the blow.

After Joe Root was done exhausting Anderson at the start, he turned to Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes, who probed the two batters by going wide of the crease and trying to use the inward angle to create LBW opportunities, but that’s as far as they could get. Broad nearly had Kohli leg-before-wicket a la Ben Stokes at Edgbaston, only for Marais Erasmus to turn the hosts’ appeal down. They took it upstairs, but an inside edge meant their review was lost. Interestingly, even if the edge wasn’t there, Kohli would’ve survived, courtesy umpire’s call.

Pujara did everything he could to give himself the best chance to score big, and perhaps get a century for the first time since November 2017 – there was complete caution in terms of run-making, his communications with Kohli – particularly the call to deny a run – were rather loud and clear, and there was no tendency late in the session to fall prey to a trap.

Joe Root didn’t have his bowlers dishing out a bouncer and testing Pujara’s ability to resist the hook shot, but brought himself on for a couple of overs with a leg slip, short leg and a slip fielder in place. Having already scored his fifty, there was no attempt to match Root’s cheekiness with his own, as Pujara walked back for an undefeated 56 from 168 balls.

Kohli too avoided a folly that got him in the first innings. There was no wicket to pick for Adil Rashid against the run of play in the second half of the session, when Root perhaps hoped the introduction of Rashid would add an element of risk to his opposite number’s batting mindset.

Kohli reached his fifty too – much quicker than Pujara – and the two walked off having scored 70 runs at just 2.34 runs-an-over in the session. But more importantly, the lead of 362 runs should come as enough cushion for the visitors to nudge the scoring rate a touch after the Lunch intermission.

Brief Scores: India 329 & 194/3 (Cheteshwar Pujara 56, Virat Kohli 54) lead England 161 by 362 runs

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