SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) – All-rounder Sam Curran followed up his innings-salvaging job on the opening day to take the crucial wicket of India skipper Virat Kohli as England fought back strongly in the second test at the Ageas Bowl on Friday.
By tea on the second day India were 181-5, still 65 runs in arrears of England’s first innings of 246 in which Curran had scored a vital 78 after the hosts’ top order had capitulated.
Trailing the series 2-1 India began the day on 19-0, looking to build on their impressive work of Thursday, but Stuart Broad blunted their early progress with the wickets of openers KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan.
Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara took the score to 100-2 at lunch, however, and began the day’s afternoon session looking set to accelerate the scoring rate and build the platform for a healthy first-innings advantage.
Kohli, who moved past 6,000 test runs in the morning, sauntered to 47 and looked in the mood for another big innings when Curran stopped him in his tracks.
In the first ball of the 41st over Curran slanted a good-length delivery across Kohli whose judgement for once betrayed him and instead of allowing it to go harmlessly wide he pushed forward and nicked it to Alistair Cook at first slip.
Pujara got lucky in the following over when he dangled his bat outside off stump to a Ben Stokes delivery, edging the ball between Cook and keeper Jos Buttler for a streaky boundary.
Stokes, bowling at three quarter pace because of an injury, was cursing his luck again in his second over of the day when his captain Joe Root could not hold a sharp low chance after Ajinkya Rahane nicked a wide delivery.
Rahane’s reprieve was shortlived though as in Stokes’ next over he was trapped lbw by a big inswinger having made 11.
With the match delicately poised India began to find runs hard to come by but Pujara released the pressure with consecutive boundaries off Stokes as he moved to 70 not out.
India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant stuck around for 29 balls without scoring but fell lbw to Moeen Ali on the last delivery before tea.
Broad, who trapped Rahul lbw for 19 and had fellow opener Dhawan caught behind after a watchful 23, was the pick of the England bowlers with figures of two for 50 in his 14 overs.
India lost the first two matches of the five-test series but hit back at Nottingham and are aiming to set up a series-decider at the Oval next week.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)