London:- Opener Rohit Sharma’s maiden overseas century and his important partnerships with Cheteshwar Pujara and K.L. Rahul helped India wrest initiative and move into driver’s seat on the third day of the fourth Test against England at The Oval on Saturday.
Sharma, who had scored seven Test centuries before and all of which came in India, added 83 for the first wicket with Rahul (46) and 153 with Pujara (61) to take India into a position from where they can hope to take 2-1 lead in the series which is level at 1-1.
When bad light stopped play, India skipper Virat Kohli was unbeaten on 22 and Ravindra Jadeja was not out on nine. The two have added 33 runs so far for the fourth wicket.
India are 171 runs ahead and have seven wickets in hand. There are two more days to play.
Brief scores (Stumps, Day 3): India 191 and 270/3 in 92 overs (Rohit Sharma 127, Cheteshwar Pujara 61, Ollie Robinson 2/67, James Anderson 1/49) vs England 290.
Pujara, Sharma curb natural instincts to drive India ahead
India opener Rohit Sharma and No. 3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara tweaked their respective batting styles and curbed natural instincts to drive India into a position of strength.
Thanks to Sharma’s gritty and circumspect eighth Test century — his first overseas — and Pujara’s uncharacteristic attacking display at the start, India had already taken a 100-run lead by tea on the third day to overturn a 99-run first innings deficit and move into a place from where they can dictate terms to the tiring England side.
By tea, the two had put on an unbeaten 116-run partnership for the second wicket.
Pujara had come in after the fall of K.L. Rahul’s wicket in the first session with the score of 83 and raced to 14 off 21 deliveries before lunch to take India past the deficit.
He hit fours Ollie Robinson and Craig Overton — on a full and a short delivery — as bowlers found it difficult to find assistance from the pitch.
A twisted ankle didn’t deter him from going after the bowling as hit Overton for two fours off two deliveries. Then he followed it up with an upper cut boundary off Woakes.
Pujara applied ‘attack is the best form of defence’ strategy and took off pressure from Sharma who had batted with grit and survived a few dropped catches on way to his half-century.
Sharma on the other hand reached his half-century in 145 deliveries. But then, with Pujara around, he shifted gears and reached his hundred off the 204th ball he faced, with a six off Moeen Ali.