Jaiswal’s blistering century caps India’s day of dominance


India 445 and 196 for 2 (Jaiswal 104*, Gill 65*, Hartley 1-42) lead England 319 (Duckett 153, Stokes 41, Siraj 4-84) by 322 runs

“Even when it was 200 for 2, guys were pretty relaxed. You know, in a session, there is four or five that could come your way.”

R Ashwin, the man who said those words, might have pulled out of the Test overnight for personal reasons, but the Indian attack was good enough to vindicate him with eight wickets in a session and a half as India roared back from the shock of a sensational Ben Duckett hundred on day two. Kuldeep Yadav softened England up with an excellent spell that virtually ran through the first session, and Mohammed Siraj capitalised on it in the second session as India took the last eight wickets for just 95 runs.

With a first-innings lead of 126 secured, India’s batters finally got down to scoring the runs that should be scored off an inexperienced and inaccurate attack. Riding on a sparkling century from Yashasvi Jaiswal, India ended the day with a lead of 322, which is 84 more than what they still had in the bank at the start of the day. That is probably why Ashwin was confident of a comeback on a pitch that was likely to only get worse for batting.

Five of the 12 wickets on the first two days had fallen in the first hour. It was pertinent that India cash in on that movement from the moisture early in the morning. In Ashwin’s absence, they began with Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep. Immediately, it was apparent there was a little more available than had been in the second half of day two, which is when Duckett had led England to 207 for 2 in 35 overs.

Bazball gives, but Bazball takes as well. Joe Root, more overs under his belt than runs in this series, tried the reverse scoop in Bumrah’s third over of the day, but ended up hitting it to second slip for a sharp catch for Jaiswal. To be fair to Root, until then he had scored 64 with that shot in just 23 balls for one dismissal. What followed is a true test of the dressing room’s disregard for results, the biggest building block of Bazball.

In the early exchanges, Duckett had reminded India of the problem they had. Kuldeep had a deep square leg for the sweep, and a deep cover for the reverse sweep, but he swept from in front of the stumps and deliberately in front of square. And when India sent another man back, he picked an easy single.

Kuldeep’s response was to go wider and look for more overspin. That kept Duckett quiet, and then drew an edge on the reverse sweep, his first boundary off an edge. Eventually, after reaching 150, he ended up hitting a short, wide ball straight to cover. It just stopped a touch and turned more than expected. Everything was coming together for India: the pitch was misbehaving just that little bit more, a traditionally high-risk shot had gone straight to hand, and Kuldeep was bowling beautifully.

Kuldeep was in great rhythm, giving the ball proper rip, creating deception both in the air and off the surface. Before he got Duckett in what might look on the surface a soft manner, he had beaten Jonny Bairstow in the air, and then ripped the ball in to trap him for his eighth duck against India, the most by any batter.

Kuldeep bowled through the session bar one over for day-three figures of 12-1-35-2. It might be just two wickets, but it set the foundation for India conceding just 83 in 26 overs in the session. Finally India had some control over the free-scoring England batters.

Post lunch, Ben Stokes tried to take a few risks, and for once they didn’t all come off. Ravindra Jadeja, bowling around the wicket to the left-hand batter, an angle that has raised a few eyebrows in the series, got him on the slog sweep thanks to that angle. The ball didn’t turn, and Stokes holed out. Something similar happened with Tom Hartley, who charged him but was beaten by the lack of turn and stumped to give Dhruv Jurel his first Test victim.

At the other end, Siraj charged in, reversed the ball, and ran through the lower order. Ben Foakes got one that stopped in the surface, and then pinged all the way to mid-on for a catch. Rehan Ahmed got a superb yorker that he even cue-ended, but couldn’t save his off stump. Full, reversing, off-stump-seeking Siraj was too good for James Anderson. For once, India had ended an innings in just 85 false responses, a bit of luck they were due after the hard work in the first four innings of the series.

For the fifth time in the series, the young batting group was presented with an opportunity to bat England out of a match. India’s innings began right at the mid-point of the middle day of the middle Test of the series; by the end of the day it seemed the series had turned a corner. Finally it looked like a four-man attack whose one spinner debuted this series. Their best spinner has been Root, who got them their first wicket: Rohit Sharma lbw to a ball too full.

Jaiswal and Shubman Gill then began slowly, absorbed the best England had to offer, and got to 75 for 1 in 26 overs. Jaiswal looked at ease, Gill seemed to have started back and across to try to cover the off stump better. In the 27th over, floodgates opened. On 35 off 73 at this moment, Jaiswal flicked a switch, hooked Anderson, then pulled him dismissively in front of square, and then lofted Hartley for two sixes down the ground. Suddenly he was 61 off 81.

Then Jaiswal biffed Ahmed down the ground before sweeping Root for his 18th six in just seven Tests. The cherry on the top was his two reverse-swept boundaries in three balls off Ahmed, played the way England have been playing: switch the stance but not the grip. This is just after head coach Rahul Dravid might have sent him a quiet instruction to be ruthless. He brought up his third Test hundred with a cut in front of square off Mark Wood, bowling with a square field for the short ball.

Almost a silent partner, Gill reminded everyone he was around when he pulled Mark Wood for a six to bring up his fifty off 98 balls. He scored just 57 in the 155-run stand, which came to a pause with back pain forcing Jaiswal to retire hurt, probably a precaution keeping next week’s Test in Ranchi in mind.

Sidharth Monga is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo

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