Indian openers showed signs of improvement before Chris Woakes’ triple strike left the visitors struggling at 82 for three against England at lunch on the opening day of the third Test.
Put into bat, comeback man Shikhar Dhawan punched his way to 35 adding 60 for the opening stand before Woakes coming in as second change bowler blew away the top three to put the pressure right back on India.
From 60 for no loss, India lost three wickets for 22 runs to end the session at 82 for 3.
Dhawan was once again gone trying to poke at an away going delivery while KL Rahul (23) was trapped leg before by an incutter.
The most disappointing was Cheteshwar Pujara (14, 31 balls), who again did the hardwork before Woakes successfully led the short ball trap enticing him for a hook shot. Pujara went for it and was holed out at the long leg boundary at the stroke of lunch as the irritation on coach Ravi Shastri’s face was clearly visible.
Dhawan, dropped after the Birmingham Test, opened the innings, initially showed more patience as he played 65 balls hitting seven boundaries in the process.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad bowled a tad short and the ball didn’t swing much in the first hour of play as India were well placed at 43-0.
But it didn’t take anything away from the solid job done by the opening pair. In fact, this was India’s highest opening partnership outside Asia and West Indies since December 2013.
India’s 50 came in the 17th over. After drinks break though, things changed as Woakes bowled a fuller length and started troubling the batsmen immediately.
Dhawan was caught at second slip by Buttler as he edged one off Woakes in the 19th over.
Two overs later, Rahul was trapped leg before as Woakes set him up beautifully. He bowled successive outswingers before bringing one back in. Rahul opted for DRS, but that didn’t work in his favour either.
Things looked to be going smoothly despite these twin blows before Pujara’s indiscretion cost India dearly.
India have made three changes with Dhawan coming in place of Murali Vijay, Jasprit Bumrah replacing Kuldeep Yadav and Rishabh Pant making his Test debut replacing veteran Dinesh Karthik.