Stubborn Curran sets up engrossing finish

If Virat Kohli and his boys were lucky on Day 2, it was only fair Joe Root’s men got to enjoy a bit of it. And it came via the same route – slip cordon. Shikhar Dhawan dropped two catches at the first slip, once of Sam Curran and then of Adil Rashid (both on 13) as India allowed England to crawl back into the contest. Eventually, Curran and Rashid added 48 runs for the eighth wicket for the winds to change and following another stodgy ninth wicket stand, they finished with 193-run lead.

Before the opening Test changed hands in the second session on Friday, Ishant Sharma immediately hurt the hosts by removing Jos Buttler in the first over. A poor backfoot punch against a moving ball marked his downfall with England on 87 for 7. Just as India hoped to shut out the game then, Curran under-edged a flashy cut to first slip with Dhawan missing a low catch at first slip. Replays confirmed that the ball whizzed past his hands as he misjudged the chance completely with Curran on 13. A flurry of boundaries followed in the next few overs before Rashid got his share of luck with Dhawan in the eye of the storm again. On that occasion though, Dinesh Karthik’s initial movement towards the catch seemed to act as a deterrent as Dhawan juggled the chance before letting it down.

Rashid didn’t add any more than three runs after the let-off but the morale visibly went down. It was Umesh Yadav who finally broke the resilient stand. Curran took on Ashwin subsequently to hit him for a straight six and a four before becoming the second youngest English batsman to score a fifty from No. 8 or below. Broad then fell to Ishant’s accuracy, edging it to Dhawan who finally broke the jinx at first slip. It was also Ishant’s eighth five-fer in Tests. Umesh got rid of Curran in the following over to stop England on 193.

194 – to be or not to be? The final session might just be the most definitive session in terms of deciding the result.

Brief Scores: England 287 & 180 (Sam Curran 63; Ishant Sharma 5-51, R Ashwin 3-59) lead India 274 by 193 runs.

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