All-rounder Chris Woakes and wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow put on a mammoth 189-run stand for the sixth-wicket as England slowly and gradually push India out of the contest at Stumps on day three of the second Test at Lord’s on Saturday. At the end of day’s play, Woakes remained unbeaten on 120 along with first-Test hero Sam Curran (22 not out) to propel the hosts to 357/6 in 81 overs. The Three Lions have stretched their lead to a massive 250 against India, who were bowled out to a paltry 107 courtesy James Anderson’s special on rain-marred day 2.
Playing in place of Ben Stokes, all-rounder Woakes registered his maiden international century in whites for England, while Bairstow scored his 19th Test fifty to put the visitors on the mat with a solid stand for the sixth wicket.
When the English pair of Bairstow-Woakes joined hands, the hosts were in little trouble at 131/5 and India had done well to stay in competitive mode in the rain-affected match.
But Bairstow and Woakes dealt handsomely with every challenge came before them. And India captain Virat Kohli was also blamed for letting the game drift with this partnership by not asking his bowlers to operate with aggressive intent.
Woakes was particularly impressive as he was making a comeback into Test cricket after an injury and he got a chance to play only because Ben Stokes went out of duty due to personal reasons.
Woakes and Bairstow initially saw off the probing deliveries from Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma who had troubled the English top-order. But once they got into the groove, they adapted to the conditions and runs flowed, even against spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav.
Before this partnership, even though the sun was smiling at the Lord’s, Indian pacers had floored the English batsmen. Alastair Cook (21), Keaton Jennings (11), debutant Ollie Pope (28) and skipper Joe Root (19) all of them had perished before lunch, with England 18 runs behind India’s first innings total.
India vs England, 2nd Test: Day 3 Highlights
Beginning the day, Cook and Jennings made a positive start, showing a lot of intent. But a full-pitched delivery missed Jennings’ bat and hit his pads, resulting in an LBW decision, with the hosts at 28.
Cook fell soon, as an away-moving delivery from Ishant found an edge and the ball landed in the hands of wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik.
As soon as 20-year-old Pope joined Root in the middle, India captain Virat Kohli decided to bring in chinaman spinner Kuldeep Yadav to operate from one end. Pope showed a lot of promise, dealing confidently with Ishant, Shami and Kuldeep.
The partnership between Pope and Root had reached 45 runs when a delivery from Pandya dismissed the former. Pope missed the line and was plumb in front of the wicket, with England at 77/3.
The hosts ran further into trouble when Shami was favoured in a LBW appeal against Root to close the first session of play.
Resuming the post-lunch session at 89/4, England came back strongly with Bairstow forging a vital 42-run fifth wicket stand with Jos Buttler, who got a quickfire 22-ball 24, laced with four hits to the fence.
Buttler, however soon perished to Mohammed Shami, giving the pacer his third wicket of the day.
Thereafter, Woakes joined Bairstow in the middle and the duo kept frustrating the Indian bowlers with some risk-free batting, that saw them reach to their respective half centuries in no time.
Then Indian bowlers tried to contain the runs, setting defensive fielding placements. It allowed the English pair to get singles and doubles without any pressure.
Woakes hit a short-pitch delivery from Shami towards the deep midwicket for a four to bring his three-figure mark.
Bairstow, however, was not lucky. He took a lot of time in his nineties before a drive off Hardik proved fatal as a diving wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik plucked a very good catch to bring relief to India.
Later, Sam Curran (22 not out) and Woakes took England to 357/6 when bad light forced early close of the day’s play.
(With Agency Inputs)