After dominating for two days, England faced some resistance from India on a gruelling Day Three at Headingley. Cheteshwar Pujara (91 n.o., 180b, 15×4), Rohit Sharma (59, 156b, 7×4, 1×6) and Virat Kohli (45 n.o., 94b, 6×4) batted well to ensure India did not fold quickly as in the first innings.
India’s spirited fightback wasn’t unexpected, according to seamer Craig Overton. “We knew they would come back,” Overton told reporters at a virtual press conference at the end of the day’s play.
“We knew what they’re like as a team and what their characters are like, so, we knew it was going to be tricky, but we obviously needed to do what we’ve been doing for the first two days and try and make the most of it. Today they’ve played really well and made it hard for us. We’ve got to come back tomorrow and show what we can do again,” he said.
‘Still in a good position’
India still trails by 139 runs, and if England manages to take a few wickets with the new ball in the morning on Day Four, the contest could be effectively over. Overton felt his team, on some other day, could have reaped more from their efforts on Day Three than just the two wickets of K. L. Rahul and Rohit.
“You always like to think you’d get a few more. I think we bowled better than what two wickets suggest, but they also played well. That’s what they’re entitled to do. Ideally, we would have got three or four and then we would need only a couple more for the bowlers [to come in to bat]. We’re still in a good position in this game, and especially with the new ball in the morning, we get a couple of early wickets then we can drive it home a bit more,” Overton said.
After a nuggety partnership, Rohit was eventually dismissed for 56 but England could have got rid of him for 39, in the 32nd over of the innings, during the post-lunch session. An lbw shout by Ollie Robinson was turned down by the umpire, and captain Joe Root was late – perhaps by milliseconds – to signal for the review. Replays showed three reds, and Rohit would have been out.
Rohit and Pujara seamlessly drove India out of imminent trouble with an 82-run partnership on Day 3. – AP
Commenting on that missed opportunity, Overton said, “I think [Root] was right on the borderline [with his timing]. I wasn’t quite sure; I thought he might have hit it, and that’s what the umpire thought. But Jimmy (James Anderson) was almost certain that he didn’t hit it. We weren’t really sure obviously. It would have been nice had it been half a second earlier, and we got that wicket. It was frustrating for us but we had to keep sticking at it.”
Sticking to business
When asked whether England would try to make life as uncomfortable for India’s batsmen in the middle as India had made it for England at Lord’s, on the final day, Overton said, “All of our bowlers would be hunting to get them out, I think. We’d probably go about it differently than what they did. We just got to make sure that we stick to how we work best as a unit, and we’ll get the rewards from that.”
But he said his team would try to avoid unnecessary confrontations with Kohli and just focus on its task.
“I think he’s one of those characters that wants to be fiesty. As a side, we’re almost trying to make sure that we do our business as what we can and try and ignore him. But making sure that we stick to the basics of what we do as a side and what we do well and go from there.”
Back in the playing XI after two years, Overton has contributed with both bat and ball in the contest so far, taking four wickets and scoring 32 runs. He said he was glad to be back playing Test matches for England.
“I’ve been away for a couple of years, and I’ve been around certain Test sides, and still feel like I’ve been contributing. Even though I haven’t played, but it’s always nice to get a game, and get a few runs with the bat and then contribute with the ball. I’d like to be doing more, but that’s just me as a character; I always want to be contributing to the team.
“I’d like to come back tomorrow and get a few more wickets. I haven’t played much red-ball cricket in a while but that rustiness is going now and I’m now getting back into the red-ball game which is nice.”