ENG v IND, 5th Test: Rain forces early lunch after Bairstow counterattack leads England's charge


Birmingham, July 3 : The first session of Day Three's play in the rescheduled fifth Test between England and India on Sunday yielded dramatic box-office stuff -- a flurry of boundaries, a wicket, two dropped catches, a superb catch and some words exchanged. At the end of it, with rain causing an early halt to the proceedings, Jonny Bairstow walked back, with just nine runs shy of his third Test century in as many matches, and fifth of this year as England reached 200/6 in 45.3 overs at lunch, trailing India by 216 runs. It was a session where Bairstow shed his cautious behaviour from Saturday for embracing the aggressive avatar associated with him under England's newly-invented BazBall effect on Sunday. The day began with Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah looking threatening with the ball, beating the outer as well as inner edges of both Stokes and Bairstow multiple times. In between, Bairstow had an exchange of words with Virat Kohli, who was fielding in the slip cordon. On the very next ball, he went for a big, booming drive, only to be beaten by a Shami outswinger with Kohli having a hearty laugh. When Shami and Bumrah erred on the fuller side, Stokes and Bairstow made full use of it by fetching boundaries. From 34th over, England seemed to shift gears, with Stokes and Bairstow taking a boundary each off Shami. Bairstow then welcomed Mohammed Siraj with back-to-back boundaries -- a swipe through mid-wicket was followed by a chip over cover. Stokes had luck on his side when he skied a shot off Shami, but Shardul Thakur shelled the chance at the cover, giving him life on 18. Bairstow added salt to the wound by smashing the next two balls for boundaries -- a flick over deep square leg was followed by a loft over mid-on. After Bairstow reached his fifty, Thakur struck in his very first over when Bumrah took a screamer of a catch, diving full length to his left at mid-off to dismiss Stokes just one ball after dropping a sitter of him. But Bairstow continued to march on, smashing short as well as full balls from Siraj and Thakur for boundaries, with a swat over backward square-leg for six being the standout. Thakur had Bairstow adjudged lbw while playing across the line but he reviewed it immediately and ultra-edge proved him right, as a clear spike meant Bairstow got to overturn the on-field decision. Two balls later, the rain brought an early end to a session full of power-packed entertainment, dominated easily by England and Bairstow. Brief scores: India 416 in 84.5 overs (Rishabh Pant 146, Ravindra Jadeja 104; James Anderson 5-60, Matthew Potts 2-105) lead England 200/6 in 45.3 overs (Jonny Bairstow 91 not out, Joe Root 31; Jasprit Bumrah 3-55, Shardul Thakur 1-28) by 216 runs. /IANS


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