India extend lead to 361 after Pant’s fifty


Birmingham: India gifted easy wickets to England but Rishabh Pant’s half-century allowed them to extend their lead to 361 runs at lunch on day four of the rescheduled fifth here Monday.

First innings centurion Ravindra Jadeja (17 off 36) and Mohammad Shami (13 off 12) were in the middle at the break with India reaching 229 for seven in 73 overs.

Resuming their second innings at 125 for three, overnight batters Cheteshwar Pujara (66 off 168) and Pant (57 off 86) made a confident start.

Pujara got going with a back-foot punch and a flick off James Anderson for consecutive boundaries.

Compared to his first innings heroics, Pant looked more measured in his approach.

Pujara, who had reached the 50-run mark Sunday, was hardly troubled by the English pacers. Pant and Pujara’s job was made easier with Ben Stokes giving three overs to part-timer Joe Root after start of play.

The Saurashtra batter however contributed to his own downfall by but cutting a short and wide ball off Stuart Broad straight to backward point. It is his pet shot but couldn’t keep it down for a change.

Shreyas Iyer (19 off 26) joined Pant in the middle and after a playing a few shots, fell to the short ball yet again. England laid the trap for Iyer and he fell right into it by pulling a short ball straight to mid-wicket.

Pant completed his fifty with a tickle off the pads, becoming the first Indian wicket-keeper to score a hundred and a half-century in an overseas Test.

After sweeping Jack Leach for a boundary, Pant went for a reverse pull in the following over but was caught at first slip by Joe Root, leaving India at 198 for six.

Towards the end of the session, Potts employed the short ball tactic against Shardul Thakur (4 off 26) who was hit hard on the helmet. Thakur did not last long after that and could not control a pull of Potts to be caught at fine-leg. Jadeja got a life when Anderson grassed a tough chance at cover off Potts’ bowling but kept the scoreboard ticking alongside Shami.

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