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Recent Match Report – England vs India 1st Test 2020/21

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Welcome to our live report of the third day of the first India-England Test from Chennai. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here

*Most recent entry will appear at the top, please refresh your page for the latest updates. All times are local.

12.45pm: Bess’ bright start

This has been a useful start from Dom Bess, who has drawn a mistake from both Kohli and Pujara. First, Kohli mistimed a clip into the leg side off a full ball, which fell just short of midwicket. And in Bess’ following over, he found some extra bounce to surprise Pujara, who could only inside-edge into his pad. England’s brains trust, Root and Stokes, have been speaking at length to hatch various plans, but the main positive from Bess’ perspective to date is that he has been consistent: he is yet to concede a boundary and has hit a good length outside the off stump more often than not.

Bess has also been given a field with protection on both sides of the wicket, with men at deep point and deep square leg. I spoke to Graeme Swann in the build-up to this Test, who was critical of Root’s decision to field a deep point whenever Bess bowls. “The only time you should have a deep point or a deep cover in a Test match is if a team are 500 ahead and it’s about damage limitation,” he said. “It’s there for a bad ball, and I don’t think it helps a bowler at all. Having protection is saying that the captain doesn’t believe in you and that you don’t believe in yourself. You wouldn’t have a long-off in for an opening bowler, would you?

“Having said that, it’s easier said than done. The fact that Dom is still young and hasn’t bowled a great number of overs in his life means that he’s not as consistent as he might be in the future. It’s a tricky one, because Bess is a wicket-taker. He didn’t bowl particularly well in Sri Lanka and I think he’d admit that, but he took 12 wickets and he does bowl wicket-taking balls.”

It is a tricky balance to strike. Bess does drop short more often than he would like, and it is a bonus if his bad balls only go for one. “I want to be going at two and a half [an over],” he explained to Sky last summer, “and also if I have got deep point and they want to open the face and try and get one, it brings Stokesy [slip] into it, it brings Jos [keeper] into it; if it spins, actually brings Pope [short leg] into it as well. So, I see it as quite an attacking option. Also, if it is a bad ball, it can go for one, and again, I mean, it’s one run instead of four runs. It’s little things like that.”

12.25pm: Archer shifts gear

The host broadcaster has put up a graphic showing Archer’s average speeds, which have shifted down slightly from 141.5kph (88mph) into the mid 130s since lunch. Rather than looking to rush these two for pace, he has instead been looking to vary his lengths, alternating between full balls and hit-the-pitch, back-of-a-length ones. Kohli chipped a leading edge wide of cover three overs ago, but other than that, India have played him relatively calmly. Now a first look at spin for the session, as Dom Bess comes into the attack.

2:30

What makes Jofra Archer special?

What makes Jofra Archer special?

And here’s a stat that will give England fans some added optimism: no team has ever lost in India after batting for 190+ overs in a single innings.

11.30am: Lunch – India 59 for 2 (Pujara 20*, Kohli 4*, Archer 2-25)

No doubt that this was England’s session. Shubman Gill looked in fine touch throughout his innings of 29 but chipped an on-drive towards mid-on off Archer, where Anderson dived to take an excellent catch to leave India two wickets down before lunch. The spotlight this afternoon will be on Bess and Leach, and whether they can find the rhythm and consistency that will trouble Kohli and Pujara, but Root will play all of his cards, including short bursts from Archer, bouncer barrages from Stokes and Anderson bowling dry.

Stokes was briefly limping in his follow-through immediately before the interval, which is one to keep an eye on. It would be a significant blow to England’s hopes for him to aggravate any injury.

11.05am: Funky fields

Joe Root has often displayed his willingness to get creative with bowling plans in the last 12 months or so, and he has set an intriguing field for Stokes’ first over. There’s no slip in place for Pujara, but there is a leg gully, a short leg, and two midwicket fielders, as Stokes goes round the wicket looking to bang the ball into the pitch and possibly hit some of the rough outside leg stump. For Gill, the leg gully moves out, but there are three men out in the deep on the leg side on the pull.

Root has often used Stokes in this ‘enforcer’ role, asking him to toil away bowling short. Archer might have one or two more overs left in his first spell before we see spin for the first time in the innings.

10.40am: Archer strikes

England have the early wicket that they would have craved so desperately. Jofra Archer, operating around the 87mph/140kph mark, beat both Gill and Rohit inside his first seven balls with legcutters which moved appreciably away from the bat, and a similar ball accounts for Rohit. Back of a length, in the channel outside off stump, and enough movement away off the seam to take the outside edge of Rohit’s back-foot poke on its way through to Buttler.

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