Mohali: England will have to play out at least two days and a session in the third Test against India at Mohali to save themselves from going 0-2 down in the five-match series, after India posted a commendable 417 to take a 134-run first innings lead.
Earlier, Ravindra Jadeja smashed his way to a career-best 90 as the Indian lower middle-order came good again.
The highlight of the first two sessions on day three was Jadeja’s 90 off 170 balls comprising 10 fours and a six. His partnership of 97 with Ravichandran Ashwin (72) is likely to have a telling impact in the final outcome of the match. Not to forget the 80-run stand he shared with debutant Jayant Yadav (55, 141 balls, 5x4), who also helped himself to a maiden half-century in Test cricket.
Jadeja also eclipsed his previous best of 68 against the same opposition at Lord’s in 2014.
Jayant once again impressed with his fighting qualities as his gutsy innings ensured that India scored 400 plus for the third consecutive time in the series.
For the record, no visiting team has won against India after having conceded a 65-plus run lead in the first innings. The last time it happened was 52 years ago, back in 1964 when Bob Simpson's Australia won after conceding a 65-run first innings lead.
It was also the first time in the history of Indian cricket that three players – namely Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant - batting at No 7 or below have scored a half-century in the same innings.
Jadeja started the post-lunch session in style as he hammered Chris Woakes, bowling from the press box end, for four boundaries in an over.
The next over from the end saw Woakes being removed and Adil Rashid (4/118) being introduced. Jadeja jumped out at the first opportunity in his bid to loft him for a six but was caught by Woakes at the long-on boundary to miss out on a Test ton.
But Umesh Yadav (12, 42 balls) gave Jayant good company as they added 33 runs to frustrate the visitors further as India crossed the 400-run mark and Jayant reached his individual milestone.
Earlier, there couldn’t have been a better start for the hosts as Woakes bowled a juicy half-volley on the pads for Ashwin to clip one to the boundary.
The lead came when Jadeja lofted Moeen Ali over mid-off in the last delivery of the 88th over.
Ashwin was looking in fluent touch as he slashed Woakes hard for a boundary between the point and cover region. It was followed with another fluent drive as the all-rounder reached the 70s.
Finally, after India reached 300, Ben Stokes broke the partnership with Ashwin playing a lazy drive to a delivery way outside off-stump only for Jos Buttler to take a low catch. But Jadeja got an able ally in Jayant as the duo didn’t curb strokeplay, showing positive intent.
The Saurashtra all-rounder duly completed his 50 when he pushed Rashid for a single and celebrated it with a customary sword-wielding.
As if to drive home a point, he flat batted Stokes over mid-on for a boundary.
Young Jayant showed his batting prowess once again as he on drove and square drove Jimmy Anderson before playing a pull-shot off Rashid.