Pujara and Kohli hold firm for India in 3rd Test against England
Leeds (United Kingdom) (AFP) –
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Cheteshwar Pujara was left eyeing a first Test century in more than two years as he held firm alongside India captain Virat Kohli to keep England at bay at Headingley on Friday.
India were 215-2 in their second innings, still 139 runs adrift of England's first-innings 432, when bad light led to an early close on the third day of the third Test.
Pujara, however, was 91 not out and Kohli 45 not out -- a highest score this series for both batsmen, with their unbroken stand worth 99 runs.
It was all a far cry from India's first-innings 78 following Kohli's decision to bat first.
Although Pujara has 18 hundreds from his 88 previous Tests, he has not reached three figures at this level since making a superb 193 against Australia at Sydney in January 2019.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma made 59 -- the opener's second fifty of the series following his 83 in India's 151-run win in the second Test at Lord's that put them 1-0 up in this five-match series.
"This innings of ours was never about survival," Rohit told reporters after stumps on Friday.
"We had an intent to score runs and Pujara really showed that...Anything loose he was ready to pounce."
India lost just two wickets in 80 overs' batting on Friday but England will be able to take the new ball as soon as play resumes on Saturday.
"Hopefully it will be cloudy tomorrow," said paceman Craig Overton, who dismissed opener KL Rahul on Friday thanks to a brilliant slip catch by Jonny Bairstow.
"We've just got to get stuck in, look to make the most of the new ball, because it will do a little bit off the surface, and then stick in for the rest of the day."
England resumed on 423-8 after captain Joe Root had made 121, his sixth Test century this year.
But the tail added just nine runs on Friday, with Mohammed Shami (4-95) the pick of India's attack.
James Anderson, already the most successful fast bowler in Test history, had taken 3-6 as he ripped through India's top order on Wednesday.
But he was unable to add to his tally of 629 Test wickets as an attack missing injured fellow quicks Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood, as well as all-rounder Ben Stokes, toiled hard without much reward.
- Bairstow stunner -
But Overton, recalled in place of Wood, produced a rising delivery that took the shoulder of Rahul's bat with second slip Bairstow, a wicketkeeper by trade, holding a superb left-handed catch as he dived in front of Root at first slip.
Rahul had fallen for eight, but England hopes his exit would spark another spectacular India slump were dashed by Rohit and Pujara.
Robinson, however, twice thought he had Rohit lbw in the 30s.
Rohit had made 35 when an India review showed the ball missing leg stump.
Worse followed for England when Rohit on 39, with India 73-1, was given not out to a straighter delivery only for Root to be told by the umpires he'd gone past the 15-second time limit when he signalled for a review. Replays indicated the ball would have hit middle stump.
But Rohit was lbw after tea to the persevering Robinson -- on umpire's call -- to end a partnership of 82.
Pujara, renowned for dour resistance, completed a relatively brisk fifty on a ground where he played for Yorkshire by hooking Overton for his ninth four in 92 balls.
Rohit's exit brought Kohli, with a meagre average of 24 in Tests since the start of last year, to the crease.
Root brought back Anderson, who had had the star batsman caught behind for just seven in the first innings, to the attack.
But he clipped Anderson off his pads for a boundary second ball and also struck the England great for an elegant cover-drive that sped to the rope.
Amid darkening skies, Root bowled his off-breaks alongside those of frontline spinner Moeen Ali to keep the game going.
But although the floodlights were on full beam, bad light still curtailed play late in the day.
© 2021 AFP