NOTTINGHAM: Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli both scored fifties as India piled on the agony for England in the third Test at Trent Bridge on Monday.
India were 194 for two in their second innings at lunch on the third day, a commanding lead of 362 runs.
Pujara was 56 not out and India captain Kohli, who made 97 in the first innings, 54 not out.
Their so far unbroken partnership of 83 meant India batted through the session without losing a wicket and remained on course for a win that would cut England’s lead in the five-match series to 2-1.
England now need to surpass their highest fourth-innings total to win a Test — 332 for seven against Australia at Melbourne back in 1928/29 — if they are to achieve an astounding victory.
– Bairstow injury –
To make matters worse for England, wicket-keeper and leading batsman Jonny Bairstow suffered a finger injury and had to leave the field on Monday.
India resumed on 124 for two, already 292 runs in front, with Pujara 33 not out and Kohli unbeaten on eight.
With three days still left to play, India could dictate the course of the game after skittling England out for 161, with Hardik Pandya taking a stunning five for 28 in six overs — the pace-bowling all-rounder’s maiden five-wicket Test haul — on Sunday.
Kohli was soon into his stride, the star batsman clipping all-rounder Chris Woakes off his pads for four in the second over of Monday’s play, with Pujara scoring a boundary in similar fashion off James Anderson.
While conditions offered a degree of assistance to swing bowlers on Sunday, they could not explain England’s latest in a long line of batting collapses.
Having been 54 for none, they lost nine wickets for 74 runs and only avoided the follow-on thanks to Jos Buttler’s 39.
England lost all 10 of their wickets inside a session — the third time that had happened since 2016.
And a score of 86 for four meant that in their past 61 Test innings, England had lost their fourth wicket having scored 100 runs or fewer on 30 occasions.
Another longstanding problem for England has been their slip catching and they floored their fifth chance in the cordon this match when Buttler, a wicket-keeper by trade, moved late at second slip before grassing a low, left-handed chance after Pujara, on 40, edged Anderson.
Buttler was soon pressed into service as a replacement wicket-keeper after Bairstow failed to gather a swinging Anderson delivery by Pujara and took a painful blow on the tip of his left middle finger.
Bairstow writhed in agony before walking off for an X-ray with England one-day gloveman Buttler, who was a wicket-keeper early in his Test career, taking over behind the stumps.
India had no need to rush, with Pujara happy to grind England into the ground with a 147-ball fifty including seven fours.
Kohli, by contrast, reached the landmark on Monday in 82 balls, with five boundaries.