Chennai, Feb 7: Rishabh Pant’s beautiful edge-of-the-seat hitting ended with his now customary indiscretion, putting India under the pump against a supremely confident England gunning for victory at the end of third day’s play in the opening Test here on Sunday.
At stumps, India were 257 for 6 in reply to England’s massive first innings score of 578 with 122 runs still needed to avoid the follow-on after Pant (91 off 88 balls) and Cheteshwar Pujara (73 off 143 balls) added 119 runs for the fifth wicket.
Washington Sundar (33 batting off 68 balls), primarily a batsman converted into specialist off-spinner, was trying to make amends for his poor show with the ball in company of Ravichandran Ashwin (8 batting off 54 balls), who is never tired of a good on-field scrap, at stumps.
With a couple of days’ play still left, it will be interesting to see if England team management decides to give its bowlers some respite if it gets a chance to enforce the follow-on.
The day belonged to the current toast of the Indian team, Pant, who smashed five towering sixes – all in the arc between long-on and deep mid-wicket off left-arm spinner Jack Leach (17-2-94-0). Leach didn’t exactly know what had hit him.
Sourav Ganguly treated left-arm spinners with disdain but what Pant showed on Sunday was more of pure, unadulterated contempt.
Leach wanted to target the rough outside Pant’s off-stump but every time he tossed it up, the stocky man from Roorkee came out like a raging bull who had been shown the red rag and hit the spinner with the turn into the Chepauk stands.
He dazzled with his brilliance and then in an annoying manner, forgot that discretion is always the better part of valour while trying to hit off-spinner Dom Bess (23-5-55-4) over extra cover against the spin.
This was after dispatching England’s most successful bowler to the square leg boundary.
And he found the only man stationed at the deep extra cover – none other than Leach, who latched onto it as if his life depended on it.
It was an innings that can evoke different emotions depending on one’s own perception of Pant.
England 1st Innings: Rory Burns c Pant b Ashwin 33, Dominic Sibley lbw Bumrah 87, Daniel Lawrence lbw Bumrah 0, Joe Root lbw Nadeem 218, Ben Stokes c Pujara b Nadeem 82, Ollie Pope lbw Ashwin 34, Jos Buttler b Ishant 30, Dominic Bess lbw Bumrah 34, Jofra Archer b Ishant 0, Jack Leach not out 14, James Anderson b Ashwin 1. Extras (b-7, lb-17, w-1, nb-20) 45. Total (All out in 190.1 Overs) 578. Fall of Wickets: 1-63, 2-63, 3-263, 4-387, 5-473, 6-477, 7-525, 8-525, 9-567. Bowling: Ishant Sharma 27-7-52-2, Jasprit Bumrah 36-7-84-3, Ravichandran Ashwin 55.1-5-146-3, Shahbaz Nadeem 44-4-167-2, Washington Sundar 26-2-98-0, Rohit Sharma 2-0-7-0.
India 1st Innings: Rohit Sharma c Buttler b Archer 6, Shubman Gill c Anderson b Archer 29, Cheteshwar Pujara c Rory Burns b Dom Bess 73, Virat Kohli c Ollie Pope b Dom Bess 11, Ajinkya Rahane c Root b Dom Bess 1, Rishabh Pant c Jack Leach b Dom Bess 91, Washington Sundar not out 33, Ravichandran Ashwin not out 8. Extras: (b-4, lb-1) 5. Total: (6 wkts, 74 Overs) 257. Fall of Wickets: 19-1, 44-2, 71-3, 73-4, 192-5, 225-6. Bowling: James Anderson 11-3-34-0, Jofra Archer 16-3-52-2, Ben Stokes 6-1-16-0, Jack Leach 17-2-94-0, Dominic Bess 23-5-55-4, Joe Root 1-0-1-0. – PTI