India vs England, 3rd Test: India extend lead to 292 on 16-wicket day at Trent Bridge
Hardik Pandya ran through England with five wickets in six overs. @Getty

Fact: India have never lost a Test match in England in which they have made over 300 in the first innings.

When India surrendered their last five wickets for 22 runs to be bowled out for 329 during the morning session of day two at Trent Bridge, it still felt like a very good total. When Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings reeled off 46 in nine overs before lunch, it felt like India could potentially let the advantage slip.

From 54 without loss, however, England  crashed to 161 in one session to hand India a match-winning lead, thanks to Hardik Pandya’s maiden five-wicket haul in Tests – all in six overs, on the trot – and Rishabh Pant, who became the first Indian wicketkeeper to hold five catches  in the first innings of his debut Test. With the freedom to attack after India gained a lead of 168, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul  freed their arms and the result was two fifty-plus opening stands in the same Test in England since 1986.

By stumps, India’s lead had swelled to 292 with Cheteshwar Pujara batting on 33, his best contribution of the series, and Virat Kohli on 8. A 16-wicket day proved utterly enthralling, as has been the template all series.

England began the extended afternoon session after taking the morning’s honours, thanks to three wickets each to Stuart Broad and James Anderson.  An uppish drive from Cook between cover and point in the first over after lunch had raised England’s 50 – and given Cook his highest score of the series – but would have also encouraged Ishant Sharma. As it turned out, his second over of the session was full of drama.

Third ball, Cook safely edged one past the cordon for four. Fourth ball, Pujara dropped a sitter at first slip. Agonised, Ishant turned on his heels and went back to his mark. Off the last ball of the over, he moved the ball just enough to get Cook nibbling and Pant held his first catch in Test cricket. That dismissal took Cook’s average since his unbeaten 244 at the MCG in December to 19.38. How long he lasts as a Test cricketer is anyone’s guess.

India had an opening, which became two in two when Pant held an edge off Keaton Jennings who couldn’t resist wafting at Jasprit Bumrah. A scoreline of 54/0 had become 54/2. England did not know what was coming.

Ollie Pope was the next to go when he got a faint tickle down the leg side off Ishant and was well held by a diving Pant. A high-quality spell of sustained in-swing from both Ishant and Bumrah continued, with Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow hurried onto the back foot. You sensed a wicket could come at any moment, such was the aggression from India’s quicks.

In one over, Ishant drew an outside edge from Root to point, an inside edge onto Root’s thigh and then had the England captain falling forward as a big in-dipper thudded into his pads. Bumrah forced him back, drew the edge and watched it die in front of Pant and slip away for four. Before the over was up, he had Root feeling outside off and beaten by a climbing delivery.

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma started England’s collapse with two wickets after lunch. @Getty

As it turned out, a lack of pace undid England. Pandya’s first ball drew an edge from Root, which was very well taken at second slip by Rahul. The soft signal was out, and several slow-motion replays later the England skipper was sent on his way. Root didn’t agree with the verdict, and like Broad earlier in the day he could be in line for a chat with the match referee Jeff Crowe.

Pandya believed he had Ben Stokes lbw on 10, and Kohli called for a review. It was close, but the umpire’s call remained despite the ball-tracker showing off stump would have been clipped. The tension was ratcheted up, and India sensed another opening was not far off.

In the fourth over of a new spell, Shami extracted an edge from Stokes which few to Rahul at second slip. Five balls later, Rahul held another low catch when Bairstow was made to poke at a terrific delivery that squared him up. His confidence soaring, Pandya ended the over with the wicket of Chris Woakes with a short ball that was tickled to Pant for his fourth catch. That made Pant the first Indian wicketkeeper to hold four catches in his first innings on Test debut.

Moments later, Pant clung on to another as Pandya drew a regulation edge off Adil Rashid. That gave him five catches, a new record for an Indian wicketkeeper on debut. Before the over was up, Pandya trapped Broad lbw for his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests. The look on his face as he held the ball up to the Trent Bridge crowd was priceless.

India were kept longer in the field than they would have liked, thanks to Jos Buttler who swung his bat merrily to get England’s total from 128/9 to 161.

In 31 overs before stumps, India made 124 for the loss of Rahul (36) and Dhawan (44). This was Dhawan’s highest score in a Test outside of Asia since July 2016, and he had only himself to blame for throwing away an easy fifty when he charged at Rashid and was stumped. Rahul too achieved his best score in Tests away from Asia in 11 innings.