India's lower-order finally came to the party but it was still the rain that had a major say on day three of the first Test against England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham on Friday (August 6). After shining with the ball on day one, Jasprit Bumrah and Co. made handy contributions down the order and helped India gain a lead of 95 runs in the first innings. Amid all the action, only 49.2 overs were possible on day three.
Having lost four wickets in no time on day two, KL Rahul (214-ball 84) and Jadeja (86-ball 56) provided India with some much-needed solidity in the middle-order. The lower-order batsmen too made some handy contributions, with the last three partnerships adding 73 runs, before India were bowled out for 278 in 84.5 overs. In reply, England were 25 for no loss in 11.1 overs before the rain made its presence felt and played a spoilsport. The visitors are still 70 runs behind.
The contribution from the last three batsmen was in complete contrast to what we have come to expect from India lately. In the 2018 Test series in England, the maximum runs accumulated by India's batsmen from nine to 11 in an innings was 20. That was in Southampton in the fourth Test. In the first innings of the ongoing Test, they added 48.
Earlier, it took James Anderson more than 20 hours to complete his 14th over and we were set for an intriguing first session, with Rishabh Pant and Rahul at the crease. The last time these two batsmen batted together in whites in England (Kennington Oval, 2018), both smashed a century and put on a stand of 204 runs in the fourth innings. India were still trailing by 58 runs when the action resumed on day three and needed the two to form a partnership. Rahul was always going to take his time but Pant made his intentions very clear by charging down the track to Anderson and whacking him for a boundary towards extra cover.
We had only 11 deliveries into the day before the rain arrived once again and the play had to be stopped for almost 40 minutes. However, there was no shortage of action once the play resumed in the first session. Pant tried to take the attack to Ollie Robinson but ended up paying the price. The wicketkeeper-batsman managed to get a couple of boundaries via edges but soon ran out of luck. The left-hander kept playing every delivery with hard hands and eventually fell to Robinson's trap. Pant was caught at short cover but only after he scored 25 off 20 deliveries.
The onus was now on Jadeja to justify his selection over R Ashwin and the all-rounder added 60 runs with Rahul and got India past England's total. With an average of 53.7 in away Tests since July 2019 - more than any other Indian player - Jadeja once again proved his worth as a batsman. The left-hander got a couple of easy deliveries down the leg side and that helped him to take control of the game. Meanwhile, Rahul batted with a similar approach like he did yesterday and was more sedate with his approach. The right-hander from Karnataka left and defended quite a few deliveries but pounced on anything full.
While Rahul scored the majority of his runs through the off-side, Jadeja was more dominant on the leg-side. Rahul hit almost 85% of his runs through the off-side, while Jadeja got 45 of his 56 runs through the on-side. The former was dropped twice off Anderson's bowling but the 39-year-old eventually got Rahul caught behind in the 69th over. Rahul smashed 12 boundaries before becoming Anderson's 620th victim. In the process, the right-arm seamer went past Anil Kumble and became the third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket.
Shardul Thakur (nought) fell to Anderson in his next over and that's when Jadeja took the attack to England. He smoked Anderson for a four and a six in the 73rd over and then struck Robinson for two boundaries to bring up his 16th Test fifty. In the process, Jadeja also went past 2000 runs in Test cricket. He added 27 runs with Mohammed Shami (13) before becoming Robinson's third victim.
Once Jadeja and Shami perished, Bumrah (34-ball 28) and Mohammed Siraj (7*) added some vital runs at the end. The two put on 33 runs for the final wicket, with Bumrah doing the majority of the scoring. There was a thumping straight drive from Siraj, while Bumrah smoked Sam Curran for two fours and a six in one over.
If you look at the table, it will tell you about the importance of the lower-order contribution in England. The lower-order (8-11) has added 21.3% to the total runs in England since 2018, which is the second-most in all Test-playing nations. Time and again India have failed to dismiss the opposition lower-order but the difference becomes broader when their own tailenders fail to score. Since 2018, India’s lower-order have averaged 11.8 when on tour and conceded at 18.6 to the opposition.
India's last three batters today scored 48 runs and these runs could have a huge impact later in this encounter. The party finally ended in the 85th over when Robinson outdid Bumrah with a bouncer and completed his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket. Meanwhile, Anderson finished with figures of 4/54.