|Second Test, Visakhapatnam (day three of five):
|India 396 (Jaiswal 209; Anderson 3-47) & 255 (Gill 104; Hartley 4-77)
|England 253: (Crawley 76; Bumrah 6-45) & 67-1
|England need 332 more runs to win
England lost Ben Duckett late on day three after being set an enormous 399 to beat India in the second Test in Visakhapatnam.
Duckett made 28 in a stand of 50 with Zak Crawley before offering a bat-pad catch off Ravichandran Ashwin.
Crawley remains on 29, alongside the promoted Rehan Ahmed on nine, with England 67-1 and in need of 332 more runs for another astonishing victory.
India were put into a position from which they are favourites to level the series by a classy century from Shubman Gill.
Amid some England excellence with the ball in the morning session, Gill could have been dismissed three times before he reached 20, but survived to make 104 and help India to 255 in their second innings.
Despite giving up a first-innings deficit of 143, England clung on with tenacity. James Anderson was magnificent in the first half hour and even though Gill shared stands of 89 with Axar Patel and 81 with Shreyas Iyer, the tourists chipped away.
Tom Hartley claimed four wickets, Ahmed three. Ben Foakes was excellent behind the stumps and Ben Stokes took a wonderful catch to remove Iyer. India lost their last six wickets for 44 runs.
For as hard as England battled, they still need to break records to win. A successful chase would be their highest in Test cricket, the highest by anyone against India and the highest in this country.
No visiting team has ever made 300 in the fourth innings of a Test in India, regardless of the result.
England also have a concern over Joe Root, who took a blow to the finger in the warm-up and again at slip, and was off the field from the drinks break in the morning session.
England need history once more
England have already made history under captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum. It was against India at Edgbaston in 2022 that they set the record for England’s highest chase and only last week overturned a 190-run first-innings deficit to win the first Test in Hyderabad.
That they still have the feintest sniff here is down to the intensity they showed in Sunday’s first session and the perseverance they demonstrated across the rest of the day.
Shubman could have batted England out of the game, especially with Anderson barely used after lunch and Root’s off-spin unavailable. Instead, Stokes marshalled a trio of young spinners with only three previous caps between them and toyed with the field to induce Indian errors.
Ultimately it has probably come too late, albeit on a pitch still good for batting, bar occasional uneven bounce. It is likely that England will come to rue the 6-68 they lost in their first innings on Saturday.
There was at least precedent for what Stokes’ men achieved in Hyderabad, whereas victory here would mean doing something no England team has done. In fact, England have only twice chased more than 100 to win in India, neither of which were in the past 40 years.
Crawley and Duckett laid a platform and India will be wary of what England are capable of, but this feels like a stretch, even for the Bazballers.
Gill repays the faith
Gill has been an enigma to the India Test team. The 24-year-old has the second-highest one-day international average of all time, but has struggled to build on a promising start to his Test career. His highest score in his 12 previous innings was 36.
On Sunday Gill repaid the faith shown in him, albeit after coming through a torrid start to his innings. He overturned being given lbw to Hartley on four, survived a marginal lbw review off Anderson on the same score and on 17 edged Hartley between keeper and slip.
With determination, Gill grew in stature and scored all around the wicket. He played powerful sweeps, delicate cuts and lofted two sixes down the ground. Gill was particularly harsh on Ahmed en route to his third Test century.
The stands with Shreyas, who made 29, and Axar, who hit 45, pushed the game away from England, only for Gill to make the mistake that allowed the fightback. As Stokes left a gap on the off side, Shubman played a reverse-sweep for the first time in his innings and gloved Shoaib Bashir to Foakes.
India ground to a halt and lost 4-18 in 10 overs, leaving Ashwin to inch on in the company of Jasprit Bumrah, who chewed up 26 deliveries for his duck.
Bumrah’s vigil ended when he pushed Hartley to gully and in the next over Ashwin was last man out for 29, edging Ahmed behind.
With India 28-0 at the beginning of the day, already 171 ahead, England needed everything to go their way. As Anderson swung the ball in the hazy morning humidity, it felt like it might.
Anderson needed only four deliveries to nip one past the defence of Rohit Sharma and into off stump. In Anderson’s next over, Yashasvi Jaiswal followed a wide one and edged to first slip. It made Anderson the first 41-year-old pace bowler to take five wickets in a Test since 1923.
India were rocked, but somehow Gill and Iyer built their stand. Just as India were getting on top, Stokes produced his moment of magic. Iyer miscued Hartley, Stokes turned from mid-off and sprinted towards the boundary, holding a breath-taking diving catch as the ball dropped over his shoulder.
Anderson bowled only three overs after lunch, so Hartley, Ahmed and Bashir carried the attack. Like the first Test, Hartley was a much better bowler in the second innings, Bashir got the crucial wicket of Gill and Ahmed’s 41.3 overs in the match are the most of his first-class career. Foakes took two super catches up to the stumps.
As England prepared to face 14 overs under the floodlights, Ahmed hit throw-downs on the outfield but it looked as though he would not be required, only for Ashwin to strike with 19 balls of the day remaining.
And Ahmed, only 19 and in his third Test, had the confidence to take two boundaries off Axar in the final over of the day.
‘We’re going to give it a good crack’ – reaction
England bowler James Anderson, talking to TNT Sports: “We feel well in the game. We got sat down by the coach last night and he said if India get 600 ahead we’re going to try and chase it down.
“We’re in a great position and we’re going to give it a good crack.”
India batter Shubman Gill: “I am definitely very pleased but I left a bit out there. We were in a good position and we could have scored a few more runs, but overall it was a good effort. It is about 70-30 at the moment.”
Former England captain Alastair Cook on TNT: “Shubman Gill saying 70-30 is the effect of Bazball. No side has ever got near this sort of total on the subcontinent. We’re only talking about it as a possibility because of what Ben Stokes has drilled into England.”