Welcome to our live report of the fourth 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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5.03pm: Stumps – India 337 and 39 for 1 (Gill 15*, Pujara 12*) need 381 runs to beat England 578 and 178 (Root 40, Ashwin 6-61)
There’s stumps and while there will be some chatter overnight about England’s tactics on the non-declaration, they have three sessions tomorrow to claim nine more wickets. India, on the other hand, need 381 more runs, all of which augers well for a fascinating final day.
4.30pm: Rohit goes
Rohit pulls Archer unconvincingly for four and then very convincingly for six, but he falls in the next over to a perfect left-arm spinner’s dismissal from Jack Leach. Rohit presses forward to a length ball that gripped off the pitch, turned past the outside edge and kissed the off stump. That’s exactly what Root was after when he threw him the new ball, and England are buoyant.
4.15pm: Leach takes the new ball
Archer and Leach share new-ball duties, with Root getting his spinner in the game as early as he can. Signs of turn early on with the hard ball, but Gill clips him through midwicket for four as he drops too short.
4.00pm: Innings – Innings 178 all out (Ashwin 6-61)
So the declaration will never come! Ashwin rips one back into Archer to bowl him and take his fifth wicket in the innings, and then Anderson chips a return catch two balls later. That means India need 420 to win in the fourth innings of the match, with 17 overs to bat tonight and then 90 more tomorrow. Questions will continue to be asked of England’s strategy with the bat in the last hour, but if they take three or more wickets tonight then nobody will be doubting the strategy. Signs of variable bounce and deterioration in the pitch throughout that innings, which will interest Archer as well as Leach and Bess.
It will be intriguing to see who takes the new ball for England: Anderson and Archer are the most likely candidates, but they may decide that Leach is a good option with it.
3.45pm: Pitch imperfect
My colleague Vishal Dikshit has picked up Kohli saying “wo seedhe run bhi beech mein bhaag raha hai yaar” on the stump mic – suggesting that England have been clever in running down the pitch to help cause a little extra wear ahead of the fourth innings. There was a warning early on for exactly that, and Rohit Sharma seemed unhappy with Root poking the pitch with his bat after his dismissal.
England are 418 ahead but James Anderson is padded up in the dressing room, deep in conversation with Joe Root – who, incidentally, is still in his training kit rather than his whites.
3.35pm: England bat on
Still no sign of a declaration. Bess and Buttler have started to attack a little more, but Buttler is dismissed after charging down the track to Nadeem. India seem happy enough to keep slowing the game down, and England bat on after the drinks break. The declaration must be fairly imminent, but I’ve thought that for the last hour.
3.10pm: What’s with the go-slow?
“India have bowled over the wicket into the rough. The only thing I can think of is that this is a time thing as to how long they want to bowl for tonight,” suggests Sir Alastair Cook on Channel 4. “I think they’ll want the bowlers to be fresh tomorrow morning with a hard ball that will be starting to reverse with fresh bowlers. But I’ve been wrong all along so I’m clutching at straws.”
England certainly don’t seem to be too bothered about the scoring rate at the moment, and Cook may well be right in his suggestion that the overs remaining are the crucial factor here. Given India’s ability to score freely – as evidenced in their famous win at the Gabba – Root may want to ensure that the required rate starts at around four an over, to ensure that even if England don’t force the win, they don’t end up losing a Test that they have largely dominated.
3.00pm: All is calm
An odd lull in the game, as Nadeem bowls into the rough and Bess seems happy to pad him away. England seem content to take time out of the game at the moment, adding seven runs in the last 25 balls at the time of writing. Seems like a real change of approach after attacking so much in the afternoon session. Perhaps the main issue has been Buttler’s lack of strike, with the more defensive Bess soaking up most of the balls.
2.40pm: Pope’s reversal
Three reverse-sweeps in a row bring Pope two, four and then the loss of his wicket, as he finds cover-point. Quite a sensible shot, with Nadeem bowling into the rough outside his leg stump to a packed leg-side field. England aren’t hanging around.
2.10pm: Tea – England 119 for 5 (Pope 18*, Buttler 14*)
England’s lead is 360 heading into the interval, and you’d imagine the declaration will come around 40 minutes or so after tea. England wasted no time at all in that session, rolling along at four an over, but the most important thing to note is that the pitch is showing signs of wear, which will make life difficult for India in the fourth innings. A couple of balls from Bumrah have kept very low from a length, while the spinners found plenty of bounce and turn with the hard new ball in particular.
1.55pm: Root goes, England lead grows
It took Kohli until the 22nd over to introduce Bumrah into the attack but he has struck with his 11th legitimate delivery, trapping Root lbw with a ball that looked to have kept a fraction low. England are continuing to rattle along at four runs per over, with Buttler edging the first ball he faced to the boundary and then depositing Nadeem for six down the ground.
1.05pm: Ishant’s 300th
Ishant Sharma traps Dan Lawrence lbw and that is his 300th Test wicket – he’s the sixth India player to reach the landmark, and only the third seamer after Zaheer Khan and Kapil Dev. A fine achievement from a bowler who has improved immensely in the second half of his career. A standing ovation from the Indian dressing room, and applause from his team-mates.
Intriguingly, given the match situation, that ball appeared to keep very low from a length, shooting under the toe of Lawrence’s bat and crashing into his front pad. That could see Jofra Archer come into the game in the fourth innings, as well as England’s spinners.
Joe Root is up and running early with a pair of sweetly-struck sweeps off Shahbaz Nadeem. With the new ball turning and bouncing, and with the form that he is in, it feels like Root will be crucial for England in this innings. If he can find some fluency and keep the strike turning over then the runs will come easily for them. It would be an added benefit for him to be able to judge the pitch while making a decision as to when he should declare.
12.40pm: Sibley falls
I said he hadn’t looked convincing, and now Sibley falls. Coming forward to a full ball from round the wicket, Sibley inside-edges and offers a catch to the man in close at leg slip. Brilliant new-ball bowling from Ashwin and England are two down.
12.35pm: Pressing on
India have lost one of their reviews, after Ashwin struck Lawrence on the pad but ball-tracking confirmed that it hit him outside the line of off stump. Sibley and Lawrence have not been particularly convincing so far, but England’s lead is nudging closer to the 300 mark with every over. India’s no-ball problem is continuing, too: they bowled 20 of them in the first innings, and Nadeem (twice) and Ashwin have overstepped within the first 10 overs of the second.
12.10pm: How many will England want?
Interesting discussion on Channel 4 in the UK as to how many England will want to set India in the fourth innings, with Alastair Cook – Root’s predecessor – as captain, suggesting he’d like to set a target of at least 400. Perhaps most intriguing was Cook’s answer to host Rishi Persad’s question as to whether the prospect of criticism would enter his head in this sort of situation.
“Absolutely,” Cook said. “You think about if it goes wrong [and] what will happen. Maybe that’s the wrong way to think about it. Maybe you should have just been thinking ‘this is the positive way’ and maybe that’s my mindset. I went with 400 then and I’ve thought ‘have I just gone too many?’ There are so many things, so many permutations. And you’ve got to be so reactive. The most important thing is that England want to remain in control. If they suddenly lose two or three quick wickets then they lose that control and India come back into the game.”
That probably says more about Cook’s captaincy and his mindset than anything else, but it demonstrates the sort of thing that Root will have to consider. He also hinted that he wished he had gambled a little more in Rajkot, in the first Test of the 2016-17 series – though that pitch was much flatter than this one.
11.30am: Lunch – England 1 for 1
Ashwin and Nadeem share new-ball duties and England lose a wicket to the first ball of the innings: Rory Burns falls to Ashwin for the second time in the match, drawn forward and offering a tough chance to Rahane at slip via the shoulder of the bat. This won’t be a straightforward afternoon for batting and Root will have a fine balance to strike in the timing of the declaration – especially with India’s recent fourth-innings heroics in the back of his mind.
11.15am: Innings – India 337 all out (Pant 91, Sundar 85*, Pujara 73, Bess 4-76)
England won’t enforce the follow-on despite bowling India out with a lead of 241. Spectacular, low, one-handed, diving catch at slip from Stokes to finish things off after Anderson drew an outside edge from Bumrah’s loose shot.
11.05am: Anderson’s short ball
The bumper does the trick for Anderson, with Ishant fending him to short leg. According to ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball length data, that was his first Test wicket with a ‘short’ ball since the Boxing Day Test of 2017-18, when Tim Paine dragged one onto his own stumps. Washington Sundar is going to play his shots now, as India look to reach the follow-on target – though I think England would probably decide to bat for a session or so regardless.
10.40am: Pitch perfect
This surface doesn’t appear to have deteriorated much at all since the second morning, as evidenced by a ball in the 90th over. Jofra Archer drew Washington Sundar forward with an 86.7mph/139.5kph ball in channel outside the off stump, earning a genuine edge. But there is so little pace and carry in the pitch that it bounced barely six inches behind the bat, and reached Stokes at slip just before its second bounce. That will be a bonus for India, as it is increasingly difficult to see how they can lose another 13 wickets. Sundar now has his highest Test score, too.
That said, there is definitely extra bounce on offer for the spinners with the new ball. Leach has his second, finding some turn and bounce away from the bat, with Nadeem steering to slip via the shoulder of the bat.
10.20am: Leach strikes
Nothing much happening with the new ball for England’s seamers, so Root throws the new ball to Jack Leach less than five overs after it has been taken. He strikes with his second delivery: extra bounce from a length with the harder ball which takes Ashwin by surprise as he lunges forward, hoping to smother the spin, and the ball loops up towards the vacant silly point region. Jos Buttler gets across to take the catch, and the 80-run partnership is broken. Shahbaz Nadeem, at No. 9, is still a useful batsman, but England are into the tail.
9.50am: Easy pickings
Poor start from England’s spinners. Too many balls were either overpitched or back-of-a-length in his three overs this morning, and India have added 27 in six overs, with Sundar reaching his second Test fifty with a cover drive off Leach. The new ball is available: if these two can survive the first 10 overs or so against it then India will grow increasingly confident that this Test can be saved.
9.15am: New ball looms
A useful unbroken stand of 32 between R Ashwin and Washington Sundar last night has given India hope of avoiding the follow-on, but there are only six overs until the new ball is due this morning, and England will be hopeful that James Anderson and, in particular, Jofra Archer can break the stand when it arrives. With 15 minutes to go until we get underway, there’s plenty of time to catch up on last night’s Polite Enquiries below, or any of the rest of our overnight content.
#PoliteEnquiries: Pant + Pujara = Trump + Dalai Lama? And the Bob Dylan among ‘Wisdens’
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98