Ben Stokes put in a Herculean shift in the heat of Ahmedabad but Rishabh Pant’s remarkable century and the folly of England’s imbalanced attack left India in full control on day two of the fourth Test.
Pant built to a brilliant 101 as he changed the complexion of the game, striking 13 boundaries and two sixes, with India’s closing 89 ahead on 294 for seven.
At tea it looked as though the unrelenting Stokes might have made the defining contribution, defying illness, stiffness and a muddled team selection to drag India back to 144 for five in response to his side’s modest 205 all out.
Flogging himself for 20 overs in near 40-degree heat he bounced out home captain Virat Kohli for a duck and removed in-form opener Rohit Sharma with a booming inswinger, holding down the fort for long, exhausting spells as the likes of Stuart Broad, Mark Wood and Olly Stone watched on from the sidelines.
But England had gambled on just three specialist bowlers, including one – Dom Bess – who turned up visibly shorn of confidence and unable to exert any control.
A story in three parts
Shot of the day
As the most prolific seamer in Test history, James Anderson has earned a certain measure of respect and usually demands it through his relentless ability to master line, length and swing. His first 10 overs in this match duly cost just three runs. But Pant on a roll is a unique prospect and his decision to stoop low, switch his grip and flip the 38-year-old over the wicketkeeper’s head for four had to be seen to be believed.
Bess under the pump
Since taking 17 wickets in his first three Tests of the winter, things have nosedived for England’s young off-spinner. Dropped after ending the first Test with a series of full-tosses, he was overlooked on two pitches offering elaborate turn. Restored on a more regular surface he looked short on self-belief, unable to do what was required as second spinner and ending up flattered by figures of 15-0-56-0.