Virat Kohli inched closer to his second century of his England tour, and took his series tally past 400 runs as England degenerated further after Lunch despite picking their first wicket of the day on Monday (August 20). India’s returns in the second session were marginally better than the first – 76 runs compared to 70 – as they continued to pile on the lead and distance England from a positive result, going into the Tea break at 270 for 3.
India’s progress from an overnight lead of 362 has been slow, but without any real hiccups. Joe Root trusted his lead pacer James Anderson to make early inroads on an overcast morning, but there was nothing to gain from the pitch or the air for any of the pacers. Anderson and Chris Woakes bowled in tandem, and were soon relieved by Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad, but they weren’t any closer to picking a wicket. The closest they came was through an LBW shout against Kohli off Broad, but ended up relinquishing a review for it while Kohli stayed on.
Very little changed post lunch. Woakes and Adil Rashid started off, with the batsmen still very comfortable to pick runs when desired and keep extending the lead. Eventually when Root made the first bowling change, the deadlock was broken. Ben Stokes got one to bounce a little more than Pujara expected – off back of a length, giving Alastair Cook a regulation catch at slips.
The breakthrough was much needed. It ended a 113-run stand, but brought together Ajinkya Rahane and Kohli, who’d laid the foundation of the formidable position that India find themselves in – with a 159-run alliance in the first innings. After a strong first innings showing, Rahane eased his way into another solid partnership with the captain.
The second session too was devoid of much drama. There was one point in play when Ben Stokes chirped from first slip when Rashid bowled to Kohli – perhaps reminding the Indian skipper of his dismissal in the first innings – but that didn’t yield anything productive. Kohli laughed it off and strolled past 400 runs in the series – becoming just the second Indian captain to do so in a series in England after Mohammad Azharuddin (in 1990). The insipid nature of the conditions and the lack of challenge from the England bowlers was also clearly demonstrated by the fact that this was the first time since the SCG Test in 2015 when India batted 80-plus overs in both the innings of a Test outside Asia.
By the time the session came to a close, Kohli was in the 90s for the second time in the game – only this time the asterix mark beside his score of 93 keeping him alive. Barring the unexpected event of one of England bowlers actually foxing him after Tea or Kohli making an uncharacteristic error himself, that three-figure milestone appears inevitable.