Anderson and Broad give England control
(Sports Page)— For almost two whole days India’s bowlers had laboured on a surface that appeared docile. On the third,James Anderson showed them how it’s done. He ran in with verve, hitting the pitch hard, swinging and seaming deliveries in both directions at pace, and whistling short balls past noses. And he did it right through the day – Anderson’s first bouncer was as mean as his last. England kept dismissing batsmen after they were set and, frustratingly for India, before they could make their starts count.
Seven of India’s top eight batsmen made it past 20. Five fell before 40 and Ajinkya Rahane threw it away on 54. There were six partnerships of more than 30, two over 50, but a highest of 74. While India’s batsmen were consistently tested, the fact that most of them got in proved the conditions were far from unplayable. They will kick themselves for giving part-time offspinner Moeen Ali two wickets, and fervently hope MS Dhoni, unbeaten on 50, can bat deep into the fourth morning with the tail to try and prevent their 1-0 series lead from crumbling in Southampton.
That England were two wickets away from a defining first-innings lead was down to Anderson and Broad. Their speed made a world of difference, because the conditions overhead and underfoot remained largely the same. Anderson beat Cheteshwar Pujara first ball with his stock outswinger, and also knifed in inswingers with a startling degree of movement. There was serious heat on his bouncers too. One angled in sharply to the right-hander, reared up and seamed away, forcing M Vijay off his toes into a desperate fend. Chris Woakes was airtight at the other end, with figures of 7-5-10-0 in the first session.
Despite India being subjected to a stern examination, England were wicketless early on and the batsmen were scoring briskly. Broad brought results with a short ball against Pujara, who swayed out of the line but did not drop his wrists, underestimating the amount of jag into him. The ball grazed his gloves and gave Jos Buttler his first Test dismissal.
Chris Jordan offered India respite. There were five wides and two sumptuous drives – Virat Kohli past cover and Vijay through mid-off – in his first over. At his best, Jordan was economical, and he posed little threat. It remained that way.
Broad then struck the blow that won the morning decisively for England. He had Vijay beaten by an outswinger, and the batsman was indecisive when the next ball landed on a similar line and length. Vijay began to play and then tried to pull his bat away. Too late. Broad’s delivery held its line and hit the stumps off the inside edge of Vijay’s withdrawing bat.
India’s situation could have worsened before lunch when Rahane, on 8, gloved Moeen’s offbreak down the leg side to Buttler, but the umpire did not see it.
Summarized scores: India 323 for 8 (Rahane 54, Dhoni 50*, Anderson 3-52, Broad 3-65) trail England 569 for 7 dec (Bell 167, Ballance 156, Cook 95, Buttler 85) by 246 runs