Patient Pujara gives India the edge in England finale

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Freak dismissal – India’s Virat Kohli returns to the pavilion after being caught on the rebound by first slip Joe Root following a drop by wicketkeeper Sam Billings

Cheteshwar Pujara’s typically gritty and unbeaten fifty left England facing a tough chase to beat India in the Covid-delayed fifth Test after Jonny Bairstow’s latest hundred delighted home fans at Edgbaston on Sunday.

India, 2-1 up in the five-match campaign and looking to complete just a fourth series win in England, were 125-3 in their second innings at stumps on the third day — a lead of 257 runs.

He had faced 139 balls, including seven fours, with Rishabh Pant, fresh from his 146 in India’s first-innings 416, unbeaten on 30.

But with England having made reached seemingly stiff targets of 277, 299 and 296 during a recent 3-0 whitewash of Test world champions New Zealand, the outcome of this match is far from guaranteed.

The 34-year-old has gone more than three years without a Test hundred since posting a century against Australia — a drought of 50 innings after he was out for 13 in the first innings at Edgbaston.

Star batsman and former India captain Virat Kohli has also endured a barren spell without a Test century since a hundred against Bangladesh at Kolkata in November 2019.

But he fell in bizarre fashion when wicketkeeper Sam Billings dropped a routine chance off England captain Ben Stokes only for first slip Joe Root to react quickly in grabbing the rebound.

England resumed in the dire position of 84-5, with Bairstow 12 not out.

England several times hit their way out of trouble during the New Zealand series — the so-called ‘Bazball’ approach named in honour of new coach Brendon McCullum’s nickname.

The 32-year-old’s fifth Test century of 2022 featured 14 fours and two sixes. This hundred followed Bairstow’s scores against New Zealand of 136 at Trent Bridge and 162 at Headingley.

Stokes, nought not out overnight, made a frantic 25.

But next ball Stokes drove harder and higher, only for Bumrah, diving to his left, to hold a brilliant and far more difficult catch in what is becoming a fine all-round match for the fast bowler.

And by then removing all of England’s top three, Bumrah set a new record for most wickets taken by an Indian bowler in a series in England of 21.

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Originally published as Patient Pujara gives India the edge in England finale


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