England vs India 2018: England's woeful batting collapse on Day 2 is SK Turning Point of 3rd Test
After receiving an absolute walloping at the hands of England in the second Test at Lord's, India appeared to be down and out. Contrary to prevailing form, Virat Kohli's team managed to find the gumption to hit back strongly in the third Test at Trent Bridge.
While their under-fire batting lineup finally stepped up to the occasion, India's comprehensive 203-run victory was shaped by a brilliant combined performance from the seam bowlers. Despite winning the toss on a reasonably good surface, England skipper Joe Root surprised one and all by opting to bowl first.
Riding on a splendid partnership between Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, the visiting batsmen gave their bowlers a rare opportunity to apply scoreboard pressure. In pursuit of 329, England's openers began strongly in their first innings. At lunch on day two, they raced to 46/0. With the series on the line, the onus was on the Indian seamers to revive the team's fortunes.
England lose ten wickets in one session
The second session on day two gave early indications of the malaise that was about to affect England's frail batting lineup. Alastair Cook drove away from the body to bring the 50-run opening partnership. An outside edge evaded the slip cordon as Ishant Sharma launched a relentless probe on the veteran southpaw's temperament.
Perhaps off-set by the diving Rishabh Pant, Cheteshwar Pujara dropped a simple chance at first slip. However, Ishant was not to be denied his due reward. A ball later, he drew Cook into a waft outside the line and extracted the edge. The gloveman made no mistake.
At the start of the very next over, Jasprit Bumrah made it two in two for India. Keaton Jennings paid the price for his poor judgement in the corridor of uncertainty. Having sent back both openers, the tourists sensed an opportunity to rip through the England lineup.
Ishant strangled the inexperienced Ollie Pope down the leg-side. For once, Pant's trigger movement towards his left came to his rescue. Root joined Jonny Bairstow in the middle. With the hosts' two best batsmen at the crease, this was the partnership that India needed to separate.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya struck off the first ball of his spell. Playing inside the line, Root could only edge a low catch to KL Rahul at second slip. After scrutinising extensively from multiple angles, third umpire Aleem Dar upheld the contentious soft signal.
Mohammed Shami soon joined in on the act. Ben Stokes' ungainly poke away from his body resulted in a sharp chance to Rahul. The 26-year old gleefully accepted the catch. Pandya aggravated England's woes in the subsequent over when he dismissed Bairstow and then Chris Woakes.
Pandya continued his astonishing spell with another double-wicket over. Upon sending back Adil Rashid, he trapped Stuart Broad with a stunning in-swinger. At 128/9, the writing was on the wall for England. Despite a few thumping blows from Jos Buttler, they were eventually bowled out for just 161.
England lost all ten wickets in a manic session. In gloomy overhead conditions, Pandya had beaten them at their own game by getting the ball to swing sharply from fuller lengths. The seam all-rounder's maiden five-wicket haul helped India acquire a sizeable lead of 168 runs.
India's charge to much-needed triumph
Sans any pressure, India's openers came out in a positive frame of mind. Both Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul flayed at even the narrowest of widths. Runs began to flow thick and fast as the England seamers decidedly came searching for the magic ball.
After the opening duo had swelled the lead past the 250-run mark, Pujara and Kohli combined together to grind England into the dust. With plenty of time left, they defended stoutly and frustrated the home team's pacers. Whenever those opportunities for scoring abounded, they pounced mercilessly.
Led by Kohli's 23rd Test century, India piled on 352 before declaring at the end of the third day. Chasing an improbable fourth-innings target of 521, England once again suffered a top-order collapse against the moving ball.
At 62/4, the hosts were in severe danger of yet another implosion. However, Jos Buttler combined brilliantly with Ben Stokes to provide the Trent Bridge faithful with something to cheer about.
Having been reprieved on 1 by the inexperienced Pant, Buttler made India earn incredibly hard for the vital breakthrough. By the time he shouldered arms to a searing delivery from Bumrah, the attacking right-hander had compiled his maiden Test century.
Bumrah proceeded to wreck England's lower-order with a vicious spell. Under the resplendent sun, he made the second new ball talk and registered his second five-wicket haul in Tests.
Although they managed to extend the game into the fifth day, England could not prevent India from completing a memorable victory. The tourists' much-needed triumph now means that the series will enter a riveting phase in the penultimate match at Southampton.