LONDON (Reuters) – Virat Kohli, ably assisted by fellow half-century maker Ajinkya Rahane, produced another captain’s knock for India in the third test after England’s Chris Woakes had rocked the visitors with three pre-lunch wickets at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
Kohli, who has shone amid the ruins of his side’s poor batting displays as they have gone 2-0 down in the five-test series, looked imperious again as he and Rahane put on an unbroken century partnership to guide India to 189-3 at tea.
Kohli, 51 not out, never looked in any trouble as he eased to his 18th test fifty while Rahane, still there on 53, compiled his 13th, the experienced pair putting on India’s highest partnership of the series, an unbroken 107 on the first day.
Ben Stokes made his return for England just four days after being cleared of affray but it was the less heralded all-rounder Woakes who made the early inroads into India’s batting in the first test to be started on a Saturday in England since 1955.
Centurion and man of the match in England’s second test win at Lord’s, Woakes took three wickets after the home side had won the toss and decided to attack the visitors’ brittle top order once again in conditions where the ball jagged around.
Seeking to seal the series triumph 3-0, England, thanks to Woakes, reduced India to 82 for three by lunch before Kohli and Rahane produced a fine counter-attack when the sun came out in the afternoon session.
Shikhar Dhawan, restored to the side in place of Murali Vijay, and Lokesh Rahul had started well enough with India’s highest partnership of the entire series — 60 — until the Kohli-Rahane link-up as England’s pacemen failed to make a breakthrough.
Stokes, back in the starting XI after being found not guilty of affray in a high profile court case, was given a ripple of applause as he came on to bowl but he had a lean time, going wicketless for 47 runs off his 11 overs.
Woakes looked the potential game-changer again, having Dhawan caught at slip for 35, trapping Rahul lbw for 23 and tempting Cheteshwar Pujara (14) into a hook on the stroke of lunch which went straight into the hands of Adil Rashid on the boundary.
Kohli, at the other end, was doubtless unimpressed as he faced the prospect of having to bail out a sinking ship again with Woakes having taken 3-18 off 6.4 overs before lunch but he found an assured partner after the break in 30-year-old Rahane.
The tourists also gave a test debut to 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who came in for Dinesh Karthik.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Christian Radnedge)