Welcome to our live report of the third day of the first India-England Test from Chennai. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here
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5.00pm: Stumps – India 257 for 6 (Pant 91, Pujara 73, Bess 4-55) trail England 578 by 321 runs
That’s stumps on another intriguing day with Bess claiming four wickets to cause some damage after Archer made early inroads with the wickets of both openers. Sundar and Ashwin are still standing determinedly on 33 and 8 respectively but the first-innings deficit remains 321 runs. Sundar survived a late, difficult chance off Leach when Archer, turning and running back from mid-on, got his hands to a skied slog-sweep but couldn’t hold on.
4.25pm: Sundar, Ashwin dig in
England have burned two reviews in the space of three overs hoping to get Washington Sundar out, both for lbw shouts when he has left the ball alone outside the off stump. The first was nowhere near, missing the stumps by a long way, but the second was only just over the top of off. That might shift his approach a little bit, making him wary of leaving outside off.
3.45pm: Pant holes out
Huge moment! Bess has been hugely inconsistent in this spell, with too many short or full balls, but he gets the breakthrough as Pant holes out to Leach in the deep, running in off the cover boundary. Pant charged down, looking to go down the ground, but there was enough turn to take it away from the bat, and Pant lost his shape a little. Leach held onto the catch, and India are six down, still 154 short of the follow-on mark.
3.15pm: Pujara goes
India are halfway to the follow-on target and five wickets down. Dom Bess has the happiest knack that a spinner could ask for, picking up wickets in improbable ways. Here, he dropped too short, allowing Pujara the chance to rock back and pull. Pope took evasive action at short leg, tucking his helmet into his body, and the ball hit him on the upper back, around the first ‘P’ of the name printed on his shirt. It looped up towards midwicket, where Burns took a simple catch, and England suddenly have five first-innings wickets.
I thought I’d also share this tweet from Nathan Leamon, England’s white-ball analyst, who is following from the UK. Pant’s decision to attack wasn’t just mindless slogging: it was a calculated assault.
2.45pm: Archer’s IPL learnings
Root has thrown the ball back to Archer and Anderson, his opening bowlers, looking for a breakthrough after tea, and that provides the perfect opportunity to give you a taste of Andrew Miller‘s piece on Archer which will follow later in the day:
It’s a sign of the strange times that we live in, that two fast bowlers whose records and reputations precede them in India are only right now playing in their first Test match in the country – and on opposing teams as well.
But in their contrasting but complementary styles, first Jasprit Bumrah and now Jofra Archer have been demonstrated an abiding truth about high-class fast bowling. It transcends time, place, formats and conditions – and it remains the most compelling factor in the game.
The Indian Premier League may be the stage on which both men have honed their crafts, but pace is pace, no matter where and how you use it, and pace with skill can be unplayable.
Bumrah’s efforts ended up being rather buried beneath the mountains of runs that England piled up over the first two-and-a-bit days of this match. However, his ability to take the pitch out of the equation, unmatched in the contemporary game, were showcased by his three lbws on each day of the match – full, fast, inswinging and startling, as well as by arguably the single best ball of the match so far, a sensational late-dipping yorker that should by rights have unseated Ben Stokes before his vital 82 had got underway.
On the third day, on the other hand, Archer’s efforts were front and centre of England’s surge into the ascendancy, and what’s more, they seized on the exact opposite approach to Bumrah, not to mention the exact same methods that earned him the accolade of MVP at the last IPL in November. Aggression to the fore, accuracy unwavering, and most importantly for England’s burgeoning hopes in this campaign, a determination not only to embrace the uncompromising nature of the wicket, but to factor it actively into his methods.
Archer’s first five-over burst yielded two priceless wickets – Rohit Sharma scalped in what in upshot looked like conventional Test-match new-ball fashion, as he hit the deck and kissed the edge through to the keeper, but the other was burgled with pure IPL trickery, as Archer ripped his fingers down the side of the ball, luring a pumped-up Shubman Gill into a fatefully early push through the line to a diving James Anderson at mid-on.
As Archer showed in bucking every conceivable fast-bowling trend at the latest IPL, he has more than a few skills to be transferred in either direction. All told, Archer claimed 20 wickets at 18.25 in Rajasthan Royals’ campaign, but half of those came in with in his Powerplay overs, at a stunning economy rate of 4.34 that was a testament, as much as anything, to his sheer unplayability. It was widely noted at the time, in fact, that he was adapting a Test-match attitude to his white-ball game, consistently targeting the top of off with judicious use of the bouncer – allied of course to his cunning armoury of cutters and knuckle-balls that kept even his more confident opponents guessing.
And so it showed today, in a thrilling but shortlived joust with India’s openers. Over the course of the past three IPLs, Gill and Sharma had faced 18 balls from Archer, with a palpable lack of success. Each had been dismissed twice, for a grand total of 11 runs, and Sharma’s head-to-head was particularly bleak – he had dismissed by two of the first four balls that Archer had bowled to him, and made it three out of seven on Indian soil overall today, as he flinched at a perfect pacey cutter, one ball after flicking a rare loose ball off his toes.
2.05pm: Pujara, Pant reach 50s
It might sound unlikely if you’ve only been looking at the scorecard, but Leach has actually stuck to his plan pretty well against Pant. He has tossed the ball up on a length, looking to hit the footmarks outside off stump in the hope that the ball will spit, turn and bounce out of them, but Pant’s attacking intent and near-perfect execution have seen him leak runs.
The additional consequence, however, is that Leach has lost sight of his plan to Pujara, and has strayed either too short or too full against him, allowing him to milk easy runs. Both men have now reached their half-centuries – Pujara’s off 106 balls, Pant’s off just 40. Bess, by contrast, has been allowed to settle into his rhythm, and has been treated with respect by both batsmen.
1.40pm: Pant counter-attacks
Jack Leach has come on, hoping to find the rough outside Rishabh Pant’s off stump, and Pant has responded by skipping down the pitch to give the ball as little chance as possible to spin out of the footmarks. He deposited Leach for six over wide long-on, before just about managing to clear Lawrence on the deep midwicket rope. Pant is standing on off stump, and hitting it with the spin. Leach’s task is to stay calm and keep putting the ball on a length: he will be happy for Pant to keep playing his shots and will expect him to miscue one before long.
The merits of Pant’s aggression will be questioned if he is out while attacking, with the deficit still more than 450 runs, but it might be more productive than sitting in and waiting for a ball that has your name on it with the pitch now taking plenty of turn.
1.10pm: And his breakthroughs follow
Bess had nailed his groupings to Kohli, bowling with the consistency that has at times eluded him in his Test career to date. The wicket ball pitched slightly wider outside off, drawing a hard-handed defensive push away from the body towards cover from Kohli, and spun sharply to draw an inside edge which Pope snaffled at short leg under the lid. A textbook offspinner’s dismissal.
The second wicket, six balls later, was slightly more freakish: Bess overpitched slightly as Rahane skipped down the pitch to turn it into a low full toss, and Root stuck out a hopeful left hand at short cover, diving to his left, and clung onto a spectacular catch. Captain and vice-captain fall within the space of two overs, and India are in all sorts of trouble!
12.45pm: Bess’ bright start
This has been a useful start from Dom Bess, who has drawn a mistake from both Kohli and Pujara. First, Kohli mistimed a clip into the leg side off a full ball, which fell just short of midwicket. And in Bess’ following over, he found some extra bounce to surprise Pujara, who could only inside-edge into his pad. England’s brains trust, Root and Stokes, have been speaking at length to hatch various plans, but the main positive from Bess’ perspective to date is that he has been consistent: he is yet to concede a boundary and has hit a good length outside the off stump more often than not.
Bess has also been given a field with protection on both sides of the wicket, with men at deep point and deep square leg. I spoke to Graeme Swann in the build-up to this Test, who was critical of Root’s decision to field a deep point whenever Bess bowls. “The only time you should have a deep point or a deep cover in a Test match is if a team are 500 ahead and it’s about damage limitation,” he said. “It’s there for a bad ball, and I don’t think it helps a bowler at all. Having protection is saying that the captain doesn’t believe in you and that you don’t believe in yourself. You wouldn’t have a long-off in for an opening bowler, would you?
“Having said that, it’s easier said than done. The fact that Dom is still young and hasn’t bowled a great number of overs in his life means that he’s not as consistent as he might be in the future. It’s a tricky one, because Bess is a wicket-taker. He didn’t bowl particularly well in Sri Lanka and I think he’d admit that, but he took 12 wickets and he does bowl wicket-taking balls.”
It is a tricky balance to strike. Bess does drop short more often than he would like, and it is a bonus if his bad balls only go for one. “I want to be going at two and a half [an over],” he explained to Sky last summer, “and also if I have got deep point and they want to open the face and try and get one, it brings Stokesy [slip] into it, it brings Jos [keeper] into it; if it spins, actually brings Pope [short leg] into it as well. So, I see it as quite an attacking option. Also, if it is a bad ball, it can go for one, and again, I mean, it’s one run instead of four runs. It’s little things like that.”
12.25pm: Archer shifts gear
The host broadcaster has put up a graphic showing Archer’s average speeds, which have shifted down slightly from 141.5kph (88mph) into the mid 130s since lunch. Rather than looking to rush these two for pace, he has instead been looking to vary his lengths, alternating between full balls and hit-the-pitch, back-of-a-length ones. Kohli chipped a leading edge wide of cover three overs ago, but other than that, India have played him relatively calmly. Now a first look at spin for the session, as Dom Bess comes into the attack.
What makes Jofra Archer special?
And here’s a stat that will give England fans some added optimism: no team has ever lost in India after batting for 190+ overs in a single innings.
11.30am: Lunch – India 59 for 2 (Pujara 20*, Kohli 4*, Archer 2-25)
No doubt that this was England’s session. Shubman Gill looked in fine touch throughout his innings of 29 but chipped an on-drive towards mid-on off Archer, where Anderson dived to take an excellent catch to leave India two wickets down before lunch. The spotlight this afternoon will be on Bess and Leach, and whether they can find the rhythm and consistency that will trouble Kohli and Pujara, but Root will play all of his cards, including short bursts from Archer, bouncer barrages from Stokes and Anderson bowling dry.
Stokes was briefly limping in his follow-through immediately before the interval, which is one to keep an eye on. It would be a significant blow to England’s hopes for him to aggravate any injury.
11.05am: Funky fields
Joe Root has often displayed his willingness to get creative with bowling plans in the last 12 months or so, and he has set an intriguing field for Stokes’ first over. There’s no slip in place for Pujara, but there is a leg gully, a short leg, and two midwicket fielders, as Stokes goes round the wicket looking to bang the ball into the pitch and possibly hit some of the rough outside leg stump. For Gill, the leg gully moves out, but there are three men out in the deep on the leg side on the pull.
Root has often used Stokes in this ‘enforcer’ role, asking him to toil away bowling short. Archer might have one or two more overs left in his first spell before we see spin for the first time in the innings.
10.40am: Archer strikes
England have the early wicket that they would have craved so desperately. Jofra Archer, operating around the 87mph/140kph mark, beat both Gill and Rohit inside his first seven balls with legcutters which moved appreciably away from the bat, and a similar ball accounts for Rohit. Back of a length, in the channel outside off stump, and enough movement away off the seam to take the outside edge of Rohit’s back-foot poke on its way through to Buttler.
10.10am: England 578 all out
Anderson lines up a sweep off Ashwin but is bowled, as the final wicket eventually falls. Ashwin bowled a whopping 55.1 overs in all, the most in an innings in his Test career, and finished up with 3 for 146. Bumrah and Ishant’s figures were both creditable too, but Nadeem and Sundar’s combined figures – 70-6-265-2 – tell the story of the innings. England were able to milk them, picking up boundaries far too often and rotating the strike at will. England will be hoping desperately that Bess and Leach don’t suffer the same problems.
9.55am: Where was the new ball?
India take the third new ball after 185.2 overs – 24.2 overs after it was due – and Jasprit Bumrah strikes immediately, trapping Dom Bess lbw with a ball that nipped in appreciably off the seam. The obvious question that follows is: what took them so long? The old ball was reversing at times, and perhaps they were worried about the ball coming onto the bat, but neither Bess nor Leach is particularly attacking by the standards of tailenders.
9.15am: England bat on
Just in case you thought you might be tuning into India’s first innings shortly, Ben Stokes rubbished that idea overnight. “No thoughts of a declaration tonight,” he said. “That would be stupid after winning the toss. In India you get as many runs as you can. If we can bat an hour tomorrow, we’ll be happy.” As a result, Dom Bess and Jack Leach will resume their partnership shortly.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98