Off-colour Ashwin and other talking points as England take control of fourthTest

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A day to forget for Ashwin.

India struck with the final delivery of day three in the fourth Test at Southampton but it was England who came out with the psychological advantage after another see-saw battle at the Ageas Bowl.

The hosts ultimately ended the day on 260-8 in their second innings with Sam Curran unbeaten on 37 and once again proving to be a thorn in India’s side. Joe Root‘s men now have an overall second innings lead of 233 runs heading into day four.

Here, we take a look at the key talking points from day three at Southampton.

JENNINGS AND ROOT LEAD ENGLAND FIGHTBACK

Resuming the day at 6-0, England lost opener Alastair Cook early in the day before the first-innings deficit of 27 runs had been overturned. Soon, they lost a second wicket in the form of Moeen Ali after the all-rounder was promoted to one down in the batting order. At 33-2 with an overall lead of just seven runs, the prospect of England crumbling was high with India’s pacers extracting some prodigious movement from the pitch.

Keaton Jennings though, got stuck into the Indian bowling attack in the company of skipper Joe Root as the two batsmen looked to repair the early damage. Jennings, who had been in woeful form coming into the match, resisted his urge to fish around the off stump in a dogged innings which could very well prove crucial to the final outcome of the Test.

At the other end, Root looked to be largely in control as he kept the runs ticking at a steady rate. The two Englishmen not only succeeded in preventing an England collapse, they also set up the platform perfectly for the hosts to seize the initiative later.

Jennings finally showed some fight.

Jennings finally showed some fight.

MOHAMMED SHAMI COMES ALIVE EITHER SIDE OF LUNCH

Jennings and Root had dug in after the loss of the two early wickets and England looked set to go into the lunch interval without any further damage.

However, disaster struck for Jennings and the hosts in the final over before lunch as Mohammed Shami finally found his radar. The Indian pacer trapped Jennings on the pads after he got a fuller delivery to swing into the left-hander sharply. The England opener opted to review the leg-before decision but it proved futile as India found the perfect riposte before lunch.

Jonny Bairstow arrived at the crease for England immediately after lunch but he was soon making the long walk back to the pavilion after just one delivery. Shami got a delivery to tail in sharply and beat the Englishman’s defence, shattering his stumps. That sensational delivery was not the only impact Shami would have post lunch with the pacer then running out Root with a direct hit to leave the England skipper two runs short of a half-century. The third dismissal effected by Shami in a span of a few deliveries had dragged India back into the game after Jennings and Root’s 59-run partnership.

Shami pulled India back into the game around the lunch mark.

Shami pulled India back into the game around the lunch mark.

BUTTLER AND STOKES SEIZE INITIATIVE FOR ENGLAND

After Shami’s exertions, the game was finely balanced on a knife’s edge with no side having the clear initiative. It is at this point that Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler swung the pendulum well and truly in England’s favour. The former more than made up for his wrongly judged single which cost Root his wicket by putting together another gritty innings where he once again curbed in his natural instincts.

On the other hand, Buttler continued to play his free-flowing game when the bowlers erred in their line as a potential game-changing sixth-wicket stand began to develop for England.

The two batsman had their fair share of fortune with edges falling just short of the fielders but they continued to soldier on with a 56-run stand before Stokes fell to Ravi Ashwin.

Buttler marched on towards his ninth Test half-century as England’s overall lead crossed the 200-run mark. Their innings, along with another fine showing by young Sam Curran, had put the hosts completely on top by the end of day three with India left staring at a mammoth ask on day four.

Jos Buttler's innings put England in complete control.

Jos Buttler’s innings put England in complete control.

OFF-COLOUR RAVI ASHWIN

Day three at Southampton could very well prove to be a decisive one in the Test series with India letting go of the advantage they held from the first innings. They first allowed England to rebuild from 33-2 and then allowed Stokes and Buttler to take the game away from them in the latter half of the day.

India’s frustrating time on the field was highlighted by Ashwin’s ineffectiveness. With Moeen Ali running riot with the older ball in the first innings, India would have expected their sole spinner to take his toll on England’s batting card in the second innings. But, the 31-year-old did not look his usual self as the wickets evaded him all day. Having just recovered from a hip injury, the Indian spinner was unable to stamp his authority with his only wicket of the day coming late in his 27th over.

His failure to make the most of the help on offer for the spinners allowed England to take complete command and it would have left Virat Kohli ruing the fact that he did not line up with two spinners at the Ageas Bowl. Ashwin ultimately ended with figures of 1-78 from 35 overs by the end of day three.

A frustrating day in the field for Ashwin.

A frustrating day in the field for Ashwin.

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