India vs England, 3rd Test: Ishant Sharma triggers England’s slump to 84/4 at lunch
Since his 244* at the MCG in December, Alastair Cook averages 19.38. @Getty

England’s attempt to bat out the fourth day of the Trent Bridge Test began on a terrible note, with Ishant Sharma prizing out Keaton Jennings and Alastair Cook in the span of seven deliveries before the middle order was soon opened up. By the time lunch rolled around on Tuesday, India had sliced England down to 84/4.

It would have been five, but for a drop by Rishabh Pant – his first after holding a record five catches in England’s first innings.

England’s pattern was familiar. A few runs, then wickets in clumps. Cook and Jennings seven deliveries apart from each other, Joe Root and Ollie Pope in the span of five. After five wickets in Birmingham, Ishant spoke of how the team had focused on getting him attacking England’s left-hand batsmen from around the stumps. It worked in the first Test, and here, with the mountain of 521 runs towering over them, England’s openers were fodder for a revved-up Ishant.

It took him five balls to extract Jennings, who was forced to play at a good delivery that he edged to Pant. Six deliveries later, Ishant got a climbing delivery to straighten for Cook to poke a regulation catch to KL Rahul  at second slip. Jennings’ latest failure, after scores of 42, 8, 11 and 13, will have added to England’s worries for the Southampton Test with news that Cook could be away on paternity leave.

Root was given a torrid examination, beaten by Jasprit Bumrah’s sharp inwards movement thrice in one over. As soon as Ishant made way for Shami, Root moved from 2 off 19 balls to 11 off 24 with two boundaries off Mohammed Shami. The uneasiness remained, as he continued to push outside off stump and saw one mistimed whip off a Bumrah full toss fall short of mid-on. Bumrah had his man in the next over when Root pushed hard and off the back foot and nicked to Rahul at second slip, who held a very sharp catch for his fifth of the Test.

Moments later, it was Virat Kohli who held an even better one at third slip when Pope threw his bat at a wide ball from Shami. England had fallen to 62/4.

A fifth wicket presented itself when Jos Buttler, on two, nicked Bumrah, but Pant was fractionally late to react because he had initially moved the other way. Buttler, batting ahead of the injured Jonny Bairstow, and Ben Stokes stitched together a stand worth 22 runs before lunch without ever looking at ease. India will have designs on wrapping up a famous victory with a day to spare.