Mohammed Siraj bowled a hostile spell in the post-lunch session to neutralise a fine hundred by Jonny Bairstow as India bowled out England for 284 to take a sizeable 132-run first innings lead on the third day of the rescheduled fifth Test here on Sunday.
By tea, India scored another 37 runs in their second innings losing Shubman Gill (4)’s wicket, extending the overall lead to 169. Cheteshwar Pujara (17 batting) and Hanuma Vihari (10 batting) were at the crease.
The morning session belonged to Bairstow (106 off 140 balls), who smashed the Indian attack after being extensively sledged by Virat Kohli.
Kohli had something to say to Bairstow about his ‘play and miss’ game and the England batter wasn’t someone to take the stuff lying down.
Post that altercation, Bairstow started chancing his arms and played a lot of lofted shots over mid-off and clipped a few towards the mid-wicket boundary.
However, Siraj (4/66 in 11.3 overs) came back strongly in the second session to mop up the tail after Mohammed Shami (2/78) finally had some luck going his way.
The England innings lasted only 61.3 overs but their run-rate of 4.61 certainly keeps them in the fight in case they can keep the fourth innings target within 325, something the current set-up under Stokes would be confident of chasing.
Once Bairstow smashed Shardul Thakur (1/48 in 7 overs) through cover point to complete his 11th Test century off 119 balls and third in as many games, he suddenly went into a shell.
Skipper Jasprit Bumrah (3/68 in 19 overs), who has had a dream game as an individual performer, bowled a probing spell, beating the bat time and again.
In the next 20 balls, Bairstow managed only six runs after his mayhem that saw him get 14 boundaries and two sixes.
Bottled up by Bumrah, Bairstow had no option but to try an expansive drive when a fuller delivery was pitched on the fourth stump line. The resultant thick edge was smartly taken by a leaping Kohli, who made amends for his needless engagement with the batter.
Once the Bairstow-Sam Billings (36) stand of 92 runs ended, Siraj bowled fast and quick to get the remaining three wickets for addition of another 43 runs.
In the morning session, Thakur more than made up for dropping a regulation skier by dismissing Ben Stokes, but the in-form Bairstow’s brutal yet swift counter-attack did create some worries for the Indian team.
Stokes (25) and England’s ‘man of the moment’ Bairstow added 66 for the sixth wicket before Bumrah produced a moment of inspiration on the field, taking a diving screamer off Thakur’s bowling to dismiss his opposite number.
The dismissal couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for India after an attacking field proved to be counter-productive as seven boundaries came between overs 33 and 36.
In fact, in a spell of 10 minutes, Stokes was dropped twice, first by Shardul, who couldn’t latch on to a skier when the English skipper had shimmied down the track only to mistime it.
The second chance was off the delivery before the dismissal when he flat-batted Shardul straight to Bumrah at mid-off but, to everyone’s horror, he missed a regulation catch.
But instead of being discreet, Stokes did a repeat act, only to find the Indian skipper holding on to a much tougher chance.
Bairstow, who seemed to be struggling during the final hour on the second day, did play and miss during the first 20 minutes in the morning.
While Thakur got the prized scalp of Stokes, Bairstow handed him some harsh punishment with a ramp shot followed by a square drive.
There was also a regal pick-up pull for a maximum off Siraj’s bowling.
There were two more sixes off Thakur’s bowling as the morning session belonged to England before India made a comeback in the next one.