India vs England, second Test, day 3: As it happened
English Dominance Over India Continues:
If Day 2 of the Lords Test virtually opened up India's struggle while batting in swinging conditions, Day 3 was all about India not being able to exert any pressure whatsoever on the English batting lineup. Having scored a paltry 107 in the first essay, the Indians just could not afford to bowl freebies and the only way that India could have made a match out of this was by bowling England out for a low score, preferably before they could get to a lead of 75-80 runs. Before the start of the day's play, every Indian fan would have hoped for quick wickets to add some spice to the game.
India did manage to get wickets at regular intervals but the quickfire start provided by the openers (Cook in particular) set the tone for England for the rest of the day. Shami was outstanding for the most part of the day and was rewarded with 3 wickets and he helped India head to lunch with England at 89/4 and still needing 20 odd runs to take the lead.
Ishant was good at times, Pandya bowled his heart out for his 2 wickets but there were no considerable demons in the pitch for Ashwin and Kuldeep to take centre stage. The fact that Kuldeep was largely under-bowled, emphasised the fact that Virat understood the mistake of picking him ahead of Umesh in what was a good pitch for the fast bowlers to bowl at. At 131/5 and with only Bairstow left as the main batsman, the game could have gone either way if only India could have removed the tail as quickly as possible, which is proving to be a nemesis for India more often than not.
The Bairstow-Woakes Pair That Took India Out Of The Game:
Cook was as confident as a class topper until he was removed by a good delivery from Shami. Root and Pope stitched a small, handy partnership but both fell in quick succession to bring India back to the game at Lunchtime. Buttler soon followed suit just after Lunch and that was probably the final happy moment for India.
Because what followed next was something special. Bairstow and the comeback man Woakes put on a fantastic partnership of 191 runs which has virtually batted India out of the contest. Probably one of the very few tests under Virat where The Men in Blue were completely lost on the field mainly due to the dominance of both the batsmen out in the middle. The Indian think-tank would have wondered whether this was the same venue where they were bundled out cheaply for 107 on the previous day, as the pitch looked as flat as it can get, only for the batsmen to enjoy their paradise stay out in the middle.
The way both Bairstow and Woakes went about their run-scoring business was what hurt India. If Woakes was magnificent in putting the bad balls away for boundaries, Bairstow pierced the gaps with fabulous ease as runs flowed in the last two sessions. The run rate of 4.41 proved to be the killer blow for India as England not only have managed an insurmountable lead of 250 but they also have enough time to bowl out India in the second innings, thanks to the outstanding partnership between the duo.
Never in the wildest of dreams would Woakes have imagined that he would end up scoring a fine 100 at Lords, The Mecca of Cricket. But that's how this game is and here is Woakes, who managed to get his name in the prestigious Honour Board. The big wicket of Virat Kohli in the first innings must have surely pumped up Woakes and that just rubbed off in his batting and he was an absolute delight to watch. Bairstow would feel gutted with himself for getting out in the 90s, as an easy hundred was there for the taking, considering the fact that India was completely down and out on the field. Nevertheless, he has done his job in stunning fashion and from here on every run is more than a bonus for England.
Rain - The Only Way For India To Escape:
England has two full days to bowl out India, and the way India has batted in this series, the given time seems a day too many for India to survive. Virtually from now on, the only way India can get away unharmed from this Test is for the rain gods to open up for the most part of the next two days. On Day 4, It looks a distinct possibility as the forecast predicts a 92% chance of rain playing spoilsport and if that is the case, India might well get away without much damage on Day 4 but what remains to be seen, is the way India manage to play 4 outstanding fast bowlers on the final day of the test, where the chances of rain reduces to as less as 23%. A rainy and a wet outfield is what is expected on the 4th day of this one-sided contest, much to the delight of many Indian fans.
But at the end of the day, if Cricket has to be the real winner, England should win this Test as they deserve to end on the winning side. They have been simply fantastic and in all likelihood, would have taken a 2-0 lead when they head to Trent Bridge, Nottingham.