England’s spinners produced a much-improved display after lunch on the third day to regain control of the Mumbai Test. They retain a lead of 52 and India’s hopes of reducing it lay with their captain Virat Kohli, who was unbeaten on 82.
Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali were under pressure. Their quality was questioned at the press conference yesterday. Parthiv Patel said they were “exposed” in Mohali. Jos Buttler admitted that his bowlers needed to be more consistent. All grievances were addressed as the duo bowled 20 overs in tandem, beating both edges of the bat and creating just enough pressure for mistakes to happen.
The first came from M Vijay, who hit a full toss back to Rashid. It was a terrible end to a sublime innings of 136. It was also the opening England wanted as they rustled up four wickets for 45 runs to leave India at 307 for 6. Were it not for the solidity of Kohli and a counterattack from Ravindra Jadeja, India could have been in deep trouble.
The rookie Karun Nair was thoroughly worked over. Rashid kept tossing them up on leg stump and ripping them past the outside edge to create uncertainty. Moeen, from the other end, had him lbw by going around the wicket and getting a good length ball to straighten ever so sharply. The batsman was defending outside the line, forced to do so because of the angle and undone because of the turn. The decision originally wasn’t given on the field by umpire Oxenford, so England got a tick for good use of DRS as well.
Parthiv’s stay at the crease was always going to be eventful considering his comments last evening. The first ball he faced kicked off the pitch, took the shoulder of his bat and lobbed over Ben Stokes at slip. The 31st had him caught behind. It was a bit ironic that a man who thought England’s spinners weren’t up to the mark was dismissed by Joe Root’s part-time offbreaks.