The Day 3 of the fourth Test match between England vs India at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton was all nervy for both the teams throughout the day. The intriguing day was full of ups and downs for both – Joe Root-led England as well as Virat Kohli-led India. However, due to the gritty knocks by Root, Buttler that were supported beautifully by Stokes and Sam Curran (still not out), India found themselves on the back foot at the end of the day as the scoreboard displayed 260 runs for 8 for the hosts with a massive lead of 233 runs given the tricky conditions with two full days remaining.
Indian bowling department tried hard to send the English batters back quickly but yet another brilliant knock by Jos Buttler kept the hosts running. How the visitors come back in the fourth day of the Southampton Test would be absolutely crucial if Virat Kohli and co want to remain alive in this five-match Test series which England are leading by 2-1.
Here are 5 talking points from Day 3 of England vs India fourth Test:
End of Alastair Cook?
One of the modern-day greats, Alastair Cook’s poor run of form just doesn’t seem to end anytime soon. His struggle with the seam and swing bowling has been a major point of concern for England. The English opener was dismissed at 17 in the first innings, later to be dismissed for 12 in the second. And his highest score in the ongoing five-match series remains at 29 that came at Trent Bridge Test. Cook has played a total of 6 Test series since 2017 and averaged above 40 in only 2 Tests. His lack of runs has denied England from getting a bright start in the last few series and it might be the time when the selectors run out of patience.
“My concern watching him is that I don’t see any improvement in his game,” said former England cricket and long-time coach to Cook, Graham Gooch.
“I think he is flatlining a little bit. When you are a cricketer, as a batsman you always need to improve yourself, need to look for new things to drive your forward,” he added.
India’s pace battery is future-secured!
Before the beginning of the Test series, everyone was talking about whether the Virat Kohli-led Indian side would live up to the expectations with the ball without its star bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah (for the first three Test), given the injury woes of Mohammad Shami, and inconsistency of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. However, every single Indian pace bowler have impressed with the bowl. They have managed to bring out their best with the new ball. Bumrah, Ishant, and Shami were top class with the ball on third day. Shami even sent a resilient Root back to the pavillion with a direct-hit run-out! India might be massively disappointed with the fact that they were unable to send the English batting packing on the day but the long spells which the Indian pace battery bowled were pleasing and admirable at the same time, and such performance give a sense of security that India are well-balanced in the pace department.
Joe Root – Not about big scores
Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root are regarded as the batting starlets of this generation. However, Root, the English skipper needs to work on his ability to convert mid scores and fifties into big runs. He was sent back to pavillion for 48 runs, courtesy to a brilliant direct hit by Mohammad Shami, as Root failed to convert yet another good start into a big knock. With just 13 tons to his name, Root is lagging behind the above-mentioned names and his 41 half centuries show how many times he has failed to convert bright starts into tons.
Jos Buttler – the unsung hero
It was widely argued whether Jos Buttler would crack Test cricket like he did in the limited overs. His flamboyancy has been impressively backed by his ability to spend time on the crease and churn out his limited-over personality in the needed times. His 69-run knock could be the match-winner for England and Buttler has once again put the hosts in a winning position.
Ashwin – a bad day at the office
India needed Ashwin to turn the match for them on the third day but his (35-7-78-1) performance was below par as he tried way too many things that were not required at that point of time. He didn’t try to float the ball in the air that troubled the hosts in the first innings, rather he was bowling flat and quick which was not troubling the gritty English batsmen at all. However, it could be said that Ashwin didn't take a note of how Moeen Ali bowled as he took a fifer and left the Indian batters stunned.