England v India: Jonny Bairstow ton fails to halt tourists

By Stephan ShemiltChief cricket writer at Edgbaston
Fifth LV Insurance Test, Edgbaston (day three of five)
India 416 (Pant 146, Jadeja 104; Anderson 5-60) & 125-3 (Pujara 50*)
England 284 (Bairstow 106, Siraj 4-66)
India lead by 257 runs

India remain in a dominant position in the fifth Test against England despite another superb century from Jonny Bairstow on day three at Edgbaston.

Bairstow's 106 - his third hundred in as many Tests and his fifth this year - got the home side to 284 from their overnight 84-5.

England still gave up a first-innings lead of 132, but hopes of a further fightback were raised when India were reduced to 75-3.

India, though, were steadied by an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 50 between Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant.

Pujara, who could have been caught on 23, is 50 not out, while first-innings centurion Pant is unbeaten on 30 in India's 125-3.

While that left India with a sizeable advantage of 257, England will draw confidence from their series win over New Zealand last month, when they successfully chased targets in excess of 250 on three occasions.

India, 2-1 up in a series that was postponed last September, are eyeing their first triumph in England since 2007.

Sunday scrap for supremacy at Edgbaston

This was a fabulous day of Test cricket, with England wholeheartedly trying to claw their way back as India battled to keep them at bay.

Bairstow's bristling century was the headline act, an innings made all the more impressive for the intensity of his morning duel alongside captain Ben Stokes against India pace bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.

In an electrifying passage of play, England plundered 48 runs in five overs, the chaos only ending when Stokes was dismissed.

Bairstow's departure was the signal for England to lose their last four wickets for 43 runs, but the fight was picked up by the bowlers, who gave nothing away until Pujara and Pant finally got some respite in the evening sun.

In truth, it is a huge ask for England to win this match, especially on a pitch that is starting to hint towards some unevenness.

England, though, will insist it is possible and are unlikely to consider the option of a draw, meaning a thrilling final two days could yet be in store.

Bairstow does it again

Bairstow is in the form of his life and this hundred is arguably better than his two match-winning efforts against New Zealand given the quality of the bowling produced by India.

Twelve not out overnight, Bairstow had managed only 13 runs from the first 63 balls he faced, but exploded into life after an exchange of words with Virat Kohli, smashing 87 off his next 56 to reach his 11th Test ton.

Once again, his strokeplay was breathtaking. Full balls were hit over mid-off, short balls were pulled and ramped, while one clip over mid-wicket for six off the seam of Shardul Thakur was outrageous.

Though England's sixth-wicket pair added 66, Stokes struggled to find the right tempo. He survived a simple skier to Thakur at cover and a low chance to Bumrah at mid-off before the same man took a screamer diving to his left next ball to send the captain on his way for 25.

Bairstow shared another 92 with Sam Billings, going to three figures with a punch off Thakur to the point fence, celebrating by running almost all the way to the boundary.

He finally fell by slashing Shami to first slip, leaving Mohammed Siraj to nip in for the final three wickets, including Billings for 36, in figures of 4-66.

India inch on

England's call for early wickets was immediately answered by James Anderson, who had Shubman Gill held at second slip from the third ball of the innings.

Matthew Potts bowled a superb spell, probing the off-stump channel and finding the edge of Pujara's bat, but the ball dropped beneath the fingertips of diving wicketkeeper Billings.

When Hanuma Vihari's loose drive at Stuart Broad ended in the hands of Bairstow at third slip, it brought the arrival of Kohli for perhaps his final battle in Test cricket with old nemesis Anderson.

The former captain looked ominous for his 20, but after Stokes found extra bounce to take Kohli's glove, Joe Root's lightning reflexes grabbed a rebound when Billings dropped the initial chance.

India's lead was 207 with seven wickets in hand and England sensed their chance, only to be blunted by the obdurate Pujara and in-form Pant.

A borderline review - Pujara was struck on the pad offering no stroke to a hooping Stokes inswinger - was the closest England came for the rest of the day.

'It's looking very good for India' - reaction

England batter Jonny Bairstow, speaking to BBC: "I'm pleased. I'm content in myself. I'm enjoying my cricket. It's great to be out there and contributing to the team.

"If we can nip a few [batters] out early tomorrow then, as Ben [Stokes] said at the toss, we'll be looking for a chase, and that's exactly what it'll be."

India bowler Mohammed Siraj: "The way we've been on top for all the three days and the way we built pressure on them was very good. We bowlers just need to be patient."

Former England spinner Phil Tufnell on BBC Test Match Special: "It is looking very good for India because the odd ball has done a bit out there, so the England batters will know it's going to get tougher, especially against India's magnificent seamers."

Former England batter Mark Ramprakash on BBC Test Match Special: "Stokes has clearly been given a licence now, but it has bordered on being reckless and he is so much better than that.

"He is good enough as a batsman to give himself time to get in and then accelerate."


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