The hosts now have an overall second-innings lead of 233 on hand with two wickets to spare as they seek to clinch the series with a win.
It was a frustrating day for the Indians on the field on day three, especially for Ravichandran Ashwin whose figures in the second innings now read 1-78. Here, we take a closer look at the off-spinner’s performance in England’s second innings.
OVERS BOWLED: 35
RUNS CONCEDED: 78
India’s sole spinner for the Test was meant to be their trump card given England all-rounder Moeen Ali’s excellent showing with the ball in the first innings. That did not prove to be the case with Ashwin struggling to get among the wickets. The 31-year-old went wicketless until his 27th over where he finally got the better of Ben Stokes. He came back for a spell with the second new-ball but was once again frustrated as England’s batsmen dealt with him in a much more authoritative fashion.
Very rarely did Ashwin get it right on day three at Southampton with his trademark flight missing for the most part. When he did get the ball to dip from above the batsman’s eye line, the spinner was in business with the ball generating some sharp turn and bounce. That is exactly how he accounted for Stokes’ dismissal with the England all-rounder deceived by the guile and flight.
The highly experienced India spinner was guilty of bowling too short and too quick on plenty of occasions on day three. Ashwin seemed too eager to take wickets and failed to build any sustained pressure on the batsmen, allowing them to rotate the strike comfortably due to his sometimes wayward bowling. Despite England’s long list of southpaws in their batting ranks, the off-spinner failed to create the impact skipper Virat Kohi would have expected from him.
VERDICT – 5/10
Perhaps it was the hip injury sustained in the third Test at Trent Bridge that played a part in Ashwin’s non effectiveness on day three. Whatever be the case, it was not a display Ashwin would have been proud off given the fact that he had started the series on fire.
After bagging seven wickets in the opening Test at Edgbaston, Ashwin has claimed only three wickets in the subsequent matches. His display on Saturday will give further ammunition to his detractors who feel the spinner is not as effective in overseas conditions. On a pitch where Moeen Ali claimed 5-63 in the first innings, Ashwin would have been expected to deliver similarly for the visitors but that wasn’t to be the case in the end.
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.
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.
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.
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.
England captain Joe Root and opener Keaton Jennings guided the hosts to 92 before the opener fell lbw at the stroke of lunch.
England went into the break 92-3 with a lead of 65 in the Southampton Test against India. The visitors struck in the very first delivery after lunch with Mohammed Shami shattering the stumps of Jonny Bairstow. Root was on course for a hard-fought fifty before he was run-out by a direct hit by Shami to depart for 48. England were placed at 122-5 at the time of Root’s dismissal.
By the time tea was taken on day three, Ben Stokes (20) and Jos Buttler had guided England to 152-5 with an overall lead of 125. The English pair were going strong post tea and had taken the lead to beyond 150 before Ravi Ashwin claimed his first wicket of the innings by removing Stokes. Buttler though, has continued to go from strength to strength and has brought up a fine half-century. He was finally removed by Ishant Sharma for 69 after India had taken the second new ball. Shami struck with the final delivery of the day but England had advanced to 260-8 and had taken a 233-run overall lead by then.
The fourth Test between England and India is on a knife’s edge.
It’s up to England’s batsmen to put their foot down and accumulate runs quickly to put the pressure on India as it’s No1 team that has to do all the running.
Catch all the live update below.