Pujara and Pant’s half-centuries, India 154 runs for four wickets

Chennai, Feb 7 (PTI) Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant scored half-centuries after the top order faltered to take India to 154 for four at tea on Sunday, the third day of the first Test cricket match against England. The Indian team is just 424 runs behind from England’s 578 runs. Pujara was playing for 53 and Pant for 54 at tea time. Both of them completed their fifties in opposite style. Pujara has so far played 111 balls with one end and hit seven fours while Pant batted aggressively. He has hit four fours and four sixes facing 44 balls. Both of them have added 81 runs for the fifth wicket so far. India lost both their openers Rohit Sharma (six) and Shubman Gill (29) in the morning session. Both of them were dismissed by fast bowler Jofra Archer. Captain Virat Kohli (11) and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (one) became the victims of off-spinner Dom Bess in the second season. Pujara stepped up to the crease in the fourth over and played a responsible innings and not only held one end but also scored runs at a good strike rate, but it was Pant who took the field with a strategy to dominate the spinners from the start. This wicket-keeper batsman started with two fours on Archer and hit two consecutive sixes on Jack Leach. After this, he again hit two sixes on this left-arm spinner. In both of these, Pujara reached the first half-century. He achieved this position by hitting a four on Leach, while Pant also completed a half-century with fours in the same over. But India lost two important wickets of Kohli and Rahane in the second season. Returning after the paternity leave, Kohli spent enough time at the crease but the ball, pitching out of the off-stump of the base, took a quick spin and took the edge of the Indian captain’s bat and went to Oli Pope standing at short leg. Bess took Rahane’s wicket in his next over to reduce India’s score to 73 for four. Joe Root dived and took a brilliant catch. Earlier in the morning session, Archer did not let the Indian opening pair survive. The Indian team lost the wicket of opener Rohit quickly. He took Archer’s extra bounce and caught wicketkeeper Jose Butler on the moving ball. Young opener Shubman Gill (29) batted fluently and hit five fours but James Anderson took his best catch at mid on to bring Archer and England to second success. Earlier, England started playing ahead of 555 for eight wickets in the morning and lost the remaining two wickets by adding 23 runs. Dom Bess (34) was the first batsman to be dismissed. He was trapped lbw by Jaspreet Bumrah. Ravichandran Ashwin bowled Anderson to end England’s innings. Jack Leach remained unbeaten on 14 runs. Ashwin made 55.1 overs. He made so many overs for the first time in any innings and took three wickets for 146 runs. Bumrah took three wickets for 84 runs in 36 overs. Ishant Sharma and Shahbaz Nadeem took two wickets each. The highlight of England’s innings was captain Joe Root’s 218-run innings, playing his 100th Test match. Apart from them, opener Dominic Sibley contributed 87 and Ben Stokes contributed 82 runs.