England face a huge challenge to save the third Test after a century from India captain Virat Kohli on day three at Trent Bridge.
Kohli’s exemplary 103, added to 72 from Cheteshwar Pujara and Hardik Pandya’s unbeaten 52, allowed the tourists to declare on 352-7, setting England a notional 521 to win.
The home side were given nine overs to bat, Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings battling to the close on 23-0.
That was something of a positive end to a difficult day for England, who dropped each of Kohli and Pujara and lost wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow to a fractured finger.
Bairstow injured the middle finger on his left hand when trying to take a delivery from James Anderson, with Jos Buttler donning the gloves for most of the day.
England say Bairstow is likely to bat in their massive task of making the largest fourth-innings score to win a Test or surviving for two days to save it.
However, the most likely outcome is that England will be bowled out at some point and India will reduce their series deficit to 2-1.
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India’s lesson to England
England find themselves in this hopeless position after being rolled over for 161 in their first innings on Sunday.
In losing all 10 wickets in a session, the hosts’ inadequate defensive technique against the moving ball was exposed.
On Monday, they were given a lesson in watchfulness, patience and judgement by an India team that accumulated without fuss on a good pitch, albeit against reduced movement.
It has been a fine improvement by the tourists, who were bowled out for 107 and 130 in the second Test at Lord’s to extend a run that had seen them pass 200 just once in nine innings in England.
Kohli, Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, who took 94 balls over his 29, were all determined, with expansion only coming from Pandya’s run-a-ball hitting as India moved towards a declaration.
Even if they are beaten, England’s shot-makers need to show similar application in the remainder of this match.
Kohli does it again
Although Kohli endured a miserable tour four years ago, averaging only 13.40, he said before this series that he did not feel the need to prove himself in English conditions.
Still, this second, almost inevitable, century took his tally to 440 runs at an average of 73.33 this summer.
From 124-2 overnight, Pujara and Kohli extended their stand to 113.
Pujara – solid in defence – played cuts, wristy flicks and punches down the ground. Kohli, who left the ball with care, drove on both sides of the wicket and cashed in any time leg-spinner Adil Rashid dropped short.
Pujara was denied what seemed a certain century when Ben Stokes found extra bounce to take the edge, while Kohli enjoyed luck in the 90s – he edged James Anderson through Keaton Jennings and, from the next ball, nicked short of first slip.
In the next over, he guided Chris Woakes to third man to complete his 23rd Test ton, celebrating by blowing a kiss towards wife Anushka Sharma.
It was Woakes who had Kohli play around his pad to be lbw, the skipper disappointed not to see a review go his way, but still able to leave to a standing ovation.
England’s tough day
Though the day belonged to India, little blame can be attached to the home bowlers, who performed admirably throughout.
However, England’s catching remains substandard – Buttler was slow to move to his left at second slip when Pujara, on 40, groped at Anderson.
Soon after, Buttler was required to take the gloves when Bairstow was struck on the end of the finger attempting what looked like a regulation take off Anderson.
In obvious pain, he left the field with a cap covering his hand and an X-ray revealed what England described as a “small” fracture.
Later, Anderson should have been rewarded in his duel with Kohli only for Jennings, at fine gully, to not even get a hand on the chance presented.
Jennings and Cook at least came through a difficult spell against the new ball at the end of the day, supported by a crowd that loudly cheered every run.
The left-handed pair faced two overs from off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who appeared to be struggling with the hip injury which restricted his contribution in the first innings.
‘India played proper Test match cricket’
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “It’s been quite a slow day but India have done exactly what a professional team should have done.
“They knew the only way back for England was to blow them away and they played the old fashioned way, I prefer to call it the proper Test match way.
“I thought they could have pulled out 45 minutes or an hour before they did but they are still massive favourites.”
On the dropped catches: “Today was the first time I have seen Jimmy Anderson drop to his knees with his head in his hands because of the dropped catches.
“It must be very difficult to see outside edges go down when you are creating opportunities and bowling beautifully.
“They do lots of catches in practice but there has got to be something else they can do. Peter Moores made catching competitive in practice, he’d have machines firing at you from close range and it became a competition in the dressing room.”
- TMS podcast: Trent Bridge analysis with Vaughan Agnew