India firmed up their ascendancy in the fifth Test at Edgbaston as they edged closer to their first series win in England since 2007.
The third day began with England 332 runs in the arrears and by the time they were bowled out for 284, they had reduced India's lead to 132, still a significant advantage. When stumps were called at the end of the day, India's lead had burgeoned to 257 and will be looking to push on to set a target north of 400 to challenge England for a 3-1 series win.
Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes were circumspect in approach early in the day as India's seamers hit testing lengths but shifted gears before lunch and reaffirmed their much-vaunted 'Bazball' approach. Bairstow, England's talisman, raced from 16 off 65 to bring up his 50 off 81 balls. Stokes, on the other hand, reguarly charged down the track to the seamers hitting three boundaries but was then caught by his opposite number, Jasprit Bumrah, diving to his left at mid-off, after being handed two reprieves.
The wicket of Stokes hardly deterred Bairstow as he brought up his 5th century of the year to continue his stellar run of form. His most productive shots were the pull shorts and the clip off the pads, attacking anything full and short.
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He was out in the same attacking vein that brought him runs, edging a full bowl outside off to Virat Kohli at first slip off Mohammed Shami, a bowling change that proved to be fruitful. Sam Billings played his shots, flicking deliveries to the fine-leg boundaries off the pads before an audacious scoop off Mohammed Siraj. He was dismissed looking to run down a a short of a length delivery only to inside edge onto his stumps off Siraj, who found movement off the surface. He was instrumental in cleaning up the tail and finished with 4-66.
In response, Shubhman Gill lasted only three deliveries edging a rising delivery by James Anderson to second slip. Hanuma Vihari was dismissed similarly in the 17th over, albeit driving away from the body but edged it to Bairstow at third slip. Kohli crunched four superbly timed boundaries through the covers before he, too, was caught behind with Stokes inducing a nick with extra bounce. Billings dropped it but Joe Root, at first slip, caught a rebound to reduce India to 75-3.
Pujara batted obdurately, facing 139 deliveries for an assured half-century, with Rishabh Pant batting in his element at the other end unbeaten on 30. The duo will walk out on Day 4, generally termed as the 'moving day' in a Test match, eyeing a lead above 400.
Siraj, at the end of the day press conference, said that the bowling performance of his side's seamers was largely down to "sticking to our basics".
"As bowlers, we had to just keep patience," he said at the close of play. "Bairstow is in form and he has been continuously playing attacking batting since the New Zealand series. So we were aware his confidence was high. Our simple plan was to stick to our basics and, no matter what he did for us, it was a matter of one ball - be it an inswinger or seaming in off the pitch."