Mohali : India took a giant leap towards closing the third cricket Test as England were tottering at 156 for seven in their second innings at lunch on the fourth day of the ongoing match, here today.
Ravindra Jadeja removed a gutsy Joe Root just before the break with England only 22 runs ahead of India.
With just three wickets remaining for England, it will be a matter of time before the home team wraps up the match.
The only consolation for the visitors would be the fact that they will make India bat for the second time in the match. But that would count for little as a 2-0 lead is now just a matter of time.
Root, who was standing between India and victory, was dismissed for 78 by Jadeja (2/39 in 23 overs). The left-arm spinner got one to turn away sharply which induced an edge from the English batsman and Ajinkya Rahane did the rest by taking a sharp one-handed catch.
Root played 179 balls hitting six fours in the process.
Root got an able ally in young Haseeb Hameed (13 batting) as the duo added 45 runs in 119 balls for the seventh wicket stand. It was this pair that erased the 134-run deficit.
Hameed again lived up to his nickname ‘Baby Boycott’ for his dogged resistance. He has so far consumed 88 balls and has mostly presented dead bat to the spinners.
The only time he could have got out was when Ravichandran Ashwin (3/41) was introduced into the attack in the second hour of the morning session. Hameed, batting on 6 tried to push at a delivery to get a faint catch but Parthiv Patel couldn’t hold onto the opportunity.
Parthiv’s keeping in the match has been shoddy at times unlike his batting which looked more compact.
While Jadeja and Jayant Yadav (2/21 in 12 overs) did a commendable job in the first hour where they got a wicket apiece, it was strange that India’s best spinner was only introduced in the second hour.
England’s trouble started in the second over of the day as nightwatchman Gareth Batty (0) failed to open his account as he was trapped plumb in-front by a Jadeja arm ball. England were reduced to 78 for five.
Jos Buttler (17) was expected to show some restraint considering the match situation. He came down the track to loft Jadeja for a six and a thickish outside edge off Umesh fetched him a boundary.
But he played one shot too many and departed trying to loft Jayant over deep mid-wicket boundary, caught by Jadeja as England were reduced to 107 for six.
Root was ready to play in occasional ones and twos even though Jadeja tried to hurry him which forced the Yorkshire man to play the left-armer off his backfoot.
He reached his 25th half century off 147 balls as he tucked one towards midwicket fence.
Young Hameed, who came in at No 8 due to a finger injury, again showed his defensive technique. Hameed’s first run came in the 19th delivery that he faced and from here on his job will be to delay the inevitable.