England will need to spring the biggest upset of the Bazball era as Shubman Gill’s century left them facing a huge fourth-innings chase in the second Test at Visakhapatnam.
The odds were already stacked against the tourists at the start of day three, 171 behind with 10 wickets still to take, but Gill’s knock of 104 gave India an iron grip.
England fought hard for everything they got, with two early wickets for the outstanding James Anderson and a pair of excellent catches from Ben Stokes and Ben Foakes, but a tea score of 227 for six looked emphatic for the hosts.
Two wickets in the session as India's lead passes 350 🏏
Match Centre: https://t.co/tALYxvMByx
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) February 4, 2024
That left England 370 behind – already close to their record chase of 378 against the same opponents at Edgbaston in 2022.
To make matter worse, Joe Root was absent for the entirety of the afternoon session after injuring his finger stopping a ball at slip.
Anderson picked up exactly where he had left off 24 hours earlier in India’s first innings, producing a sterling spell from the pavilion end. At 41, and with no other seam bowlers in the side, he would have preferred a longer break between shifts but he showed no signs of weariness as he blew away the Indian openers.
More than half of a sold-out Sunday crowd were still queuing outside when he struck with his fourth ball of the morning, a beauty that stood up off the seam and hit the top of Rohit Sharma’s off stump as he looked ruefully over his shoulder.
Yashavi Jaiswal, following up his stunning double century, was next to succumb to Anderson’s unforgiving line and length as he flashed a drive to slip. For a brief moment, England were calling the shots but Gill survived two close calls on four and went on to turn the game.
First he was given lbw to Tom Hartley and seemed more surprised than anyone when DRS suggested a tiny inside edge. Technology would not have saved him when Anderson went up with another big appeal, but this time the on-field umpire said no to one that could have gone either way.
When Anderson left the attack, the control went with him, leaving England’s inexperienced spinners unable to keep a lid on the run-rate. Gill took the lead past 200 by launching Shoaib Bashir for six and dashed to 50 with back-to-back fours off Rehan Ahmed.
A stand of 81 with Shreyas Iyer (29) did real damage but Hartley ended it thanks to a moment of inspiration from Stokes. He chased down what looked to be a lost cause to brilliantly catch Iyer at full length.
Foakes followed suit, reacting instinctively to gather Rajat Patidar’s bottom edge off Rehan Ahmed, but 102 runs in the session still hurt.
There was another 97 between lunch and tea as Hartley, Ahmed and Bashir picked up the strain. Gill moved the lead beyond 300 as he powered Ahmed for a six and two fours in one over and brought up his hundred in 132 balls.
He was gone soon after, gloving a sweep off Bashir to the waiting Foakes, and Hartley had Axar Patel lbw for 45. It was a morale-boosting end to the session but the task already seemed extreme.