Ind vs Eng: Alastair Cook (46*) stands tall on Day 3 of his final Test
England Opener Alastair Cook (46*) and skipper Joe Root's (29*) stretch the hosts' lead to 154 after Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari shine for India with the bat
For once it was not the sword-wielding celebration from Ravindra Jadeja as he reached his half century that took centrestage. It was what he did either side of it that conveyed an appropriate message. At first, he brushed his willow as if to suggest that his batting was still potent. Then, he pointed to the India crest and the number of his shirt to imply that he belongs to Test cricket.
Jadeja proved his credentials with the bat by scoring an unbeaten 86 and in the process kept India afloat in the fifth Test match here at the Oval. At stumps on Day Three, though, England progressed to 114 for two with retiring opener Alistair Cook on 46. At the other end, skipper Joe Root was unbeaten on 29 for England to lead by 154 runs. If Cook scores a hundred, he will become the first man under an England cap to slam a century in his first and last Test match.
Jadeja celebrates his 50. Pic/AFP
Earlier, Jadeja's brilliant knock ensured India finished their first innings on 292, only 40 shy of England's first innings score. Resuming at 174-6, Jadeja and debutant Hanuma Vihari repelled the English bowlers with a combination of determination and skill. After surviving the initial burst from James Anderson and Chris Broad, Vihari played some lovely drives and sweeps to bring up his half century. But the right-hander fell just before lunch for 56, edging a Moeen Ali delivery to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Vihari and Jadeja had added 77 for the seventh wicket as India slumped to 237-7. The departure of Vihari forced Jadeja to change gears. Suddenly, balls that were previously left alone were dispatched to the boundary. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid were cut with ease as Jadeja motored his way into the 70s. England spin twins, Moeen and Adil Rashid claimed the wickets of Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami, but there was still plenty of venom left in Jadeja's willow.
The left-hander smashed Anderson over the ropes for six and then deposited Broad to the midwicket boundary to move past 85. But just as thoughts of a century crossed Jadeja's mind, he ran out of support. Jasprit Bumrah was run out for a duck and Jadeja left the ground to a warm applause. It became clearer that perhaps India had missed a trick of not playing him in the series. England lost Keaton Jennings early in the second innings when he shouldered arms to a Mohammed Shami inswinger for 10 and then Jadeja knocked over Moeen for 20. Cook and Root stabilised the innings with a partnership of 52 to give England the upper hand.
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