NOTTINGHAM: Hardik Pandya took five wickets and debutant wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant claimed five catches as England were dramatically dismissed inside a session for just 161 in the third Test at Trent Bridge on Sunday.
That left India with a commanding first-innings lead of 168 runs at tea on the second day after they had earlier made 329.
All-rounder Pandya took five for 28 runs in six overs, including a stunning spell of four for eight in 11 balls, as he revelled in the swing-friendly conditions.
England only narrowly avoided the follow-on total of 130 but India had strengthened their grip on the game as they looked to recover from 2-0 down in the five-match series.
It was the second time this year that England had been dismissed inside a session of Test cricket following their humiliating 58 all out against New Zealand in Auckland in March.
The irony was that England had enjoyed a solid opening stand to be 54 without loss.
But the exit of left-handers Alastair Cook (29) and Keaton Jennings (20) on that total sparked a collapse that saw eight wickets lost for 74 runs.
Only Jos Buttler’s 39 briefly kept India at bay.
Admittedly, the overcast conditions that saw the floodlights switched on were not the easiest in which to bat, but England’s top-order problems run deeper than that.
Cook edged paceman Ishant Sharma to give Pant an easy first Test catch.
Cook’s exit meant England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer had made 252 runs at a meagre average of 19.38 in Test cricket this year.
Next ball, Jennings, one of 12 batsmen to have opened in Tests with Cook since Andrew Strauss retired six years ago, was squared up by the recalled Jasprit Bumrah and nicked to Pant.
New batsman Ollie Pope fell for 10 when a genuine glance off Sharma was well caught down the legside by the 20-year-old keeper.
England captain Joe Root only managed 16 before he edged all-rounder Pandya’s first ball low to KL Rahul at second slip.
The umpires called for a review but made a ‘soft signal’ of out and, as often happens in these situations, replays cast more doubt than had been apparent to the naked eye.
But the on-field call was upheld and Root had to go
Ben Stokes, recalled just days after being acquitted of an affray charge on Tuesday following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September last year, walked out to a few boos from the crowd.
Having failed to take a wicket in India’s innings, the left-handed batsman exited for 10 when a thick edge off Mohammed Shami flew waist-high to Rahul.
Chris Woakes had bailed out the top-order with a maiden Test century in England’s innings and 159-run win at Lord’s last week.
But trying to hook Pandya on eight, he got a top edge and Pant, going down the legside, changed direction and lept back to his right before holding a brilliant one-handed catch.
England were now 118 for seven.
The first ball of Pandya’s next over saw Adil Rashid well caught by Pant, two-handed this time.
Stuart Broad survived the hat-trick ball but was out for a duck all the same, the left-hander plumb lbw to a Pandya inswinger.
At 128 for nine, England still needed two more runs to avoid the follow-on.
They got them when Buttler’s leading edge off Shami just cleared Ajinkya Rahane at cover-point.
Buttler, with only last man James Anderson for company, teed off.
He hooked Shami for six and drove Sharma straight back over his head for another before he holed out off Bumrah, with England all out in a mere 38.2 overs.
Sunday’s play started with a flurry of India wickets, the tourists losing their last four for 22 runs in 19 balls after resuming on 307 for six.
But they were still well-placed thanks to Saturday’s fourth-wicket partnership of 159 between skipper Virat Kohli (97) and vice-captain Rahane (81). —AFP