Hardik Pandya stole the limelight with his maiden five-wicket haul as India made a strong comeback in the series by taking complete control of the third cricket Test against England, on Sunday. At stumps on day two, India were well placed at 124 for two in 31 overs in their second innings with Cheteshwar Pujara batting on 33 and skipper Virat Kohli unbeaten on 8. India, thus, took an overall lead of 292 runs over England with three full days play remaining in the match. It was Pandya who turned out to be the cynosure of all eyes today, registering career-best figures of 5 for 28 to help India bundle out England for 161 in their first innings and give his side the upperhand for the first time in the series.
After tea, opening duo of Shikhar Dhawan (44) and KL Rahul (36) looked to build on India’s advantage by making another cautious start. Rahul, in particular, was aggressive as he hit seven fours and scored at 100-plus strike rate during his 33-ball stay.
Dhawan, on the other end, was a bit more watchful as the duo brought up the 50 in the ninth over. But Ben Stokes (1/30) broke the partnership by cleaning up Rahul in the 12th over.
New man in, Pujara was cautious after his recent failures and put on 51 runs with Dhawan for the second wicket before Adil Rashid (1/23) foxed the left-hander with a google, only to be stumped by Jonny Bairstow.
Earlier, Pandya picked up career-best figures as England lost 10 wickets in the post lunch session to be bowled out in 38.2 overs at Trent Bridge. Ishant Sharma (2/22) and Jasprit Bumrah (2/37) also picked up two wickets apiece.
But Pandya’s lethal five-over opening spell made the difference as he sent the English line-up reeling in a space of 28 balls.
Coming on to bat after lunch, the hosts crossed 50 in the 10th over, after which the downfall began. Sharma was handed the ball as play restarted and he had both the openers — Alastair Cook (29) and Keaton Jennings (20) — in all sorts of trouble.
He dismissed Cook for the 10th time in Test cricket, caught behind in the 12th over after the left-hander was dropped by Pujara at first slip two balls earlier. On the very first ball of the next over, Bumrah removed Jennings caught behind as well.
Olliver Pope (10) and Joe Root (16) added 21 runs for the third wicket, but Sharma’s fuller lengths caused all sort of troubles for both the batsman. He had Pope caught behind as well with Rishabh Pant latching on to his third catch of the day.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (0/3) went off the field for a short time owing to a stiff hip, but he recovered enough to return to the field.
Pandya made sure that the off-spinner wasn’t required at all in the first innings. First, he had Root caught at second slip with Rahul getting his fingers under the ball in time for the TV umpire to rule in his favour.
Then an over later, Pandya and Rahul combined again to send Bairstow (15) back. England were reeling at 108 for 5 in the 30th over as Stokes’ struggle ended with Rahul this time claiming a catch off Mohammed Shami (1/56).
Pandya wasn’t done just yet. His next three wickets came in the space of three balls across the 31st and 33rd over, during which he was on a hattrick as well.
Pandya accounted for both Chris Woakes (8) and Rashid (5) as Pant collected his fifth catch in only his first Test outing.
Pandya was on a hattrick after he trapped Stuart Broad (0) with the first ball of the next over, but James Anderson (1 not out) fended it off.
Pandya’s 28-ball effort was the second-quickest five-wicket haul for India in Test cricket after Harbhajan Singh took a fiver off 27 balls against West Indies in 2006.
Jos Buttler (39) threw his bat around and hit three fours and two sixes as England barely managed to save the follow on. He added 33 runs for the last wicket with Anderson before holing out off Bumrah in the deep.