England failed to capitalise on batting first on the opening day of the third Test against India in Mohali.
On a blameless surface, the tourists played a string of reckless strokes to be reduced to 87-4 and 144-5.
They were rescued in part by Jonny Bairstow, who made 89 in partnerships of 69 with the recalled Jos Buttler (43) and 57 with Ben Stokes.
England closed on 268-8, with India set to take control if they can wrap up the innings and bat long on the second day.
The home side, 1-0 up in the five-match series after a big win in the second Test, were accurate rather than brilliant with the ball, and could have been in an even better position if they had held their catches.
England, so often blighted by top-order failures, are once again relying on their lower order and bowling attack to remain in the match, and will be hoping that a dry pitch deteriorates to make batting last difficult for India.
“A high-class team would have made 450 or 500 on here,” said former England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special.
“Some of the dismissals have been poor and England will know that. They also know India will have to bat last on a pitch that, by day three and four, will be much more difficult.”
Brilliant Bairstow does it again
Bairstow, the world’s leading Test run-scorer in 2016, showed the patience that almost all of the rest of England’s batsmen lacked to spare them from a complete calamity.
Promoted to number five after Ben Duckett was dropped, he showed solid defence against the pace bowlers and accumulated with pushes, punches, sweeps and rapid running – he scored only six fours in his 177-ball stay.
On 54, he could have been caught or stumped by Parthiv Patel off Ravichandran Ashwin, with the wicketkeeper also dropping another edge off Jayant Yadav when Bairstow was on 89.
But, from the next ball, Bairstow was given out lbw on the front foot, failed to overturn the decision on review and departed along with England’s hopes of a first-innings score anywhere near par on this pitch.
“Bairstow is playing on a different planet,” said Vaughan. “He made batting look so, so easy – balanced on front and back foot, and with options on both sides of the wicket against spin.
“Some of the other England batsman should be sitting next to him in the dressing room and hoping it rubs off on them.”
Jonny be good – the stats
- Jonny Bairstow took his world-leading tally of Test runs in 2016 to 1,340, 133 more than second-placed Joe Root
- His 89 is the fourth-highest score by an England wicketkeeper in Asia; no England keeper has made Test century on the continent
- At one stage he went 96 balls without finding the boundary, the longest he has gone without one in a Test innings
- His stand with Ben Stokes was the fifth time they have shared a fifty partnership in their past eight innings together
- Bairstow’s opposite number Parthiv Patel was recalled after eight years and 107 days out of Test cricket – the sixth longest gap for India – but the five men ahead of him are all because of World War II
- Parthiv missed 83 games, which is most missed between matches by an Indian. He is also third on that list, after missing 43 matches earlier in his career. There are only three other men in the history of the game with two gaps of 40 matches or more: Brian Close, Fred Titmus and Brad Hogg
Buttler at home on return
The poor form of Duckett and Gary Ballance in India and Bangladesh respectively forced England to recall reserve wicketkeeper Buttler as a specialist batsman for his first Test in 13 months, despite the right-hander playing only one first-class match in that time.
His footwork was initially tentative, but time at the crease built enough confidence for Buttler to play trademark reverse-sweeps and handsome square drives.
He eventually joined the list of England batsmen to fall in sloppy fashion, tamely pushing left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja to Virat Kohli at extra cover.
Chris Woakes arrived to add 45 with Bairstow but was bowled by the pacey Umesh Yadav in the penultimate over to leave the tail exposed on Sunday morning.
England waste winning the toss
With batting likely to become harder as the match progresses, England had the advantage of winning the toss, only to throw away wickets to some disciplined India bowling.
Haseeb Hameed was powerless in the face of some extra bounce extracted by Umesh, but Joe Root played an awful swipe across the line to Jayant, and captain Alastair Cook, who was dropped twice, edged a loose cut shot off Ashwin to depart for 27.
Moeen Ali, promoted to number four, was caught hooking the excellent Mohammed Shami, and Stokes, after battling hard with Bairstow, was frustrated into running past a Jadeja delivery to be stumped.
Bairstow showed his team-mates what could be achieved with the necessary application but, even after his effort, England are likely to need something special to get back in this match and possibly even the series.
‘We need as many as we can’
England batsman Jos Buttler on TMS: “It was great to be out there in the middle and playing again. There are times when you question if you will get another chance.
“The day could have gone better for the team. There were a few dismissals that we could have been avoided, but at the end of the day a few started to spin and keep low.
“You’re always in the game with runs on the board. We need as many as we can tomorrow.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/38115814