Archer burst puts England on top after first innings of 578


Jofra Archer’s sparking two for 25 has got England to the perfect start on day three. The 25-year old accounted for both opening batsmen to leave India 59 for two at lunch in reply to a mammoth first innings score of 578. 

Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill were prised out within the first 10 overs, as Archer’s blitzing spell made use of a surface that has plenty to offer. Showing signs of considerable wear and the occasional burst of soil and dust with deliveries on the right-hander’s off stump, lunch was taken with plenty to chew over. 

After jagging a few leg cutters past the outside edge, Archer clipped Sharma’s bat with the third delivery of his second over, through to Jos Buttler for his first wicket since his last Test back in August. His second was a little more fortuitous. A full delivery to Gill was met with a full face but slightly too early, sending an arrowing drive down the ground but aerially enough to have James Anderson in play at mid on. The 38-year-old dived low and sharp to his left to take the catch a matter of inches off the ground. 

Up to that point Gill had played like a dream. A knock of 29 off 28 deliveries featuring five boundaries. All crisply struck with his famous blank bat, first given an outing in this format in the series win in Australia, when he dropped in to score 259 from his opening three Tests, at an average of 51.

Gill’s work profited off some uncharacteristically wayward bowling from Anderson, who was unable to find his lines in a four-over opening spell for 17 runs. He was replaced by Ben Stokes, who immediately went around the wicket to employ short-ball tactics, with the slips dispersed into the leg side. 

It spoke of the range of approaches England’s quicks will have to adopt if they are to take the remaining 18 wickets to win this match. The majority of the load today will be shared by left-arm spinner Jack Leach and offie Dom Bess. Both delivered a solitary over before lunch was called with India 519 behind. 

The hosts took 10.1 overs to finally see the back of the tourists’ first innings. Donning their fielding gear for a seventh session, the first order for Bess and Leach was to frustrate them further. 

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Picking up on 555 for eight, it was Bess who showed more intent early on, skipping down the track to swipe Ravichandran Ashwin to midwicket for the first boundary of the day. The pair, though, were not in any hurry, putting the onus on India’s bowlers to remove them. 

Virat Kohli would have to use the third new ball to do that. Having had it available since the 160th over, it finally called upon two balls into the 186th. Jasprit Bumrah’s first delivery with it nipped into Bess to dismiss him LBW for 34, ending the ninth wicket stand on 42. 

Joined by James Anderson, Leach took it upon himself to charge Ashwin, this time hitting down the ground for another four. A second attempt at a charge was read by the off spinner, who dropped his length and beat the left-hander on the outside edge but failed to emerge with a deserved wicket when Rishabh Pant botched the stumping. 

Thankfully, Ashwin did not have to wait long, bowling Anderson to finishing with three for 146 from 55.1 overs, the most he has bowled in a single innings. He and Bumrah (three for 84) the pick of the attack. England will be satisfied with the extra 23 onto their score and 40 minutes into the legs of the Indian fielders, not to mention a second-highest score in India. The inroads made with the ball were the cherry on top after the opening seven sessions of this four-match series.

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