How often do we have a team way behind in a Test after batting for the full day and losing only two wickets? But that is where India find themselves at Headingley. They crossed the first hurdle of minimum damage on the third day but there is a mountain to climb still. With the new ball due from the first over of the day, India will have to write a script as historic as any if they are to mount a comeback.
The biggest threat is the man with 629 wickets to his name. His first spell in the first innings caused havoc and India were reduced to 78. However, in the second innings, Indian openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul managed to evade it. With both of them back in the hut, it is up to Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. Both batsmen have looked steady in this innings, but have been Anderson’s bunny especially when the ball is new in recent times
Coming back to Anderson, the wily seamer has an even better record with the second new ball. In Tests at home, Anderson’s balls per wicket record drops from 52.7 to 47 with the second cherry. His new-ball partners also have been equally threatening with the new ball in this match. Ollie Robinson and Craig Overton were able to produce 31.2 percent and 25 percent of false shots from the Indian batsmen in the first 25 overs. Anderson himself had induced 26.1 percent in the seven overs he bowled in the current innings. This means India have to go through the torrid times they went through once more.
A REPEAT OF JOHANNESBURG 2013 IN DEMAND
The spiffing news is, both Kohli and Pujara are well settled. Pujara is nearing his century and has batted 180 balls and Kohli is nearing his half-century and batted close to a 100 balls. A continuation with a bit of caution is what both batsmen will be eyeing. These two have saved India in several situations and the most notable one would be their Johannesburg partnership in 2013 in the third innings. The scenario was completely different in that match, India were in lead. Irrespective of that, the pair faced a vicious bowling attack similar to what they faced in this innings.
The pair had stacked 222 runs for the third wicket and had faced 356 deliveries to accumulate those runs. In the history of Indian cricket that is the fifth-highest partnership for any wicket in the third innings and the second-highest in an away/neutral venue. In that match as well, the situations were somewhat the same. The first wicket yielded 23 runs then and 32 now, there was a 70-run stand for the second wicket as compared to 82 in this match. If these two can repeat what they did then, by the end of the day India not only will be out of danger they will be in the driver’s seat heading into the fifth day. A prospect unbelievable when the third day began.
The ceiling for all the hope can come crashing down early on day four. But, If India manages to mount a comeback, it will be a bigger deal than what they have managed to pull-off lately.